Soooo, remember when we were in Iringa, Tanzania one, two – five buses and a boat ride ago? Well when we were there, we stayed at a place called Neema Crafts Guest House. Neema is a not for profit organization that employes 106 deaf and handicap Tanzanians to make all things crafty-wonderful. My father worked with deaf and handicap people in his second career, so remembering him, I was immediately drawn to their cause. I took a tour of their facilities and OMG I thought I’d died and gone to creative workshop heaven.
Being a creative person, it’s been one of the most challenging parts of traveling – not being able to spread out and get creative. All I’ve had is my journal and a few pens, so mandalas have been my main creative outlet. How could I be a part of the Neema workshop, filled with sewing machines, looms, hand dyed fabrics and yarns, screen printing equipment and a carpentry workshop – are you kidding me, a carpentry workshop? Oh happy day!
Where is all this going? Let me back up a bit… When I was in Brazil I had an inspiration – I needed a mandala bag! I cut up one of my white linen skirts that I’d bought in a London thrift shop and proceeded to hand sew myself a bag with my travel sewing kit, then I drew my favorite mandala onto the bag. The mandala bag was born; but the broader idea was to make them on a larger scale and sell them on Etsy.
Since I couldn’t carry my sewing machine in my big bag, I knew I couldn’t possibly start a creative project of that scale until I settled somewhere… That is, until I ran into the Neema Craft people. I couldn’t pass up this serendipitous moment. J and I spent an extra week in Iringa so I could work on product development and they’ve begun making mandala bags for me. Hurrah! Is it the most cost effective way to produce mandala bags? Certainly not. But what a great cause! Hopefully I can sell a few bags and make a little money for myself and help the Neema craft people as well. Perfect!
One of my goals while traveling was to find another career path using my creative skills. I knew things would begin to fall into place if I was patient. I’ve been gone a long time now and this traveling stuff doesn’t pay for itself, you know? Hopefully the mandala bag will be just one of several artistic endeavors I’ll establish so I can carry on without returning to the world of construction. OMG I’m going to become one of those artsy people with unreliable income. Did you ever think you’d see the day? Aggghhhh how scary!
So, here we go – mandala bags. In 12 to 16 weeks, they should be available. I’ll keep you posted on how the project is going and will share the Etsy link when they’re ready to go. On today, my one year anniversary of leaving the U.S., I am excited to be sharing this Big News with you all.
Beautiful design! 🙂
Thanks man! I”m working on a ‘man bag’ too 🙂 Hope all is well…
Happy birthday to you!!!!! Have a great day. Can’t wait to see the bag you have created.
Gail and Dr. D
Thanks Gail and Dr. D. Will keep everyone posted when the bags are ready. Hi to mum DeBoer too! Miss you all… xxooo
Amazing post and great, great news!! The design is beautiful!
Hey Jill. Thanks for checking in. Yes, very excited about this venture. We’ll see what happens. Hope all is well with you 🙂
Great entrepreneurial skills!! Helping people grow their business and help themselves. Perfect~proud of you!
Keep up the creativity.
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Thanks Victoria. I’m trying to make some things happen out here in the world. Hope all is well back home 🙂
You are SOOOOOO in your element!
Yes Andrew, it seems I am… I’m working on a ‘man bag’ too 🙂
Beautiful ! I can hardly wait to purchase one! Love you adopted daughter!
Hi honey! Long time no talk. I think of you often and wonder how you are in Key West. Thanks for checking in and for supporting me and my mandala bags. Will let everyone know when they’re ready to go. When I make it back to Key WEst, we are SO getting together! Miss you… xxxoooo
First, Happy birthday! Second, happy one year anniversary. Third, we have to talk, girl. Neema, in the Diocese of Ruaha! That’s the Anglican Church of Tanzania. The Archbishop of Tanzania, Jacob Chimeldaya, is a frequent visitor to my church at home, and to my seminary.I have a couple of ideas for additional outlets for your wonderful bags — and other things Neema may be making. God is clearly at work in this new enterprise of yours.
The work is beautiful — and I absolutely love the fact that it’s all silk-screened (which makes my printmaker’s heart sing.). Love you much, love what you’re doing, and miss you.
Wow, how interesting! Small world, huh? Very excited to talk to you about your other outlets. Could be interesting. Maybe we can catch up soon and compare Africa stories. Hope all is well… And thanks for the birthday wishes… xxooo
So, so SO cool!! I love this. What a fantastic place this sounds like. I would like to be there with you. 🙂 xoxoxoxox
AND a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY my friend! :*
OMG you would’ve loved it here! Sewing machines galore! I thought of you while I was there. Thanks for the birthday wishes. I’m enjoying my day 🙂 xo
Girl, I will TOTALLY buy one of those beauties! Send me the link asap! 🙂
Hey honey, thanks! Will send the link out when they’re ready to go! If you’re in a yoga studio somewhere, maybe we can talk selling them there??? Just a thought. Hope you are doing well in your life transition. xxooo
hey….. nice, so awesome! would love to get my hands on them for the cafe…..
Hey honey! So nice to hear from you! Would love to have some in the cafe. Let’s make it happen. Will keep you posted when I can get you some, we’ll talk… Hope all is well. xo
Eryn-perfect! i want 3 when you get started.
Yay, you’re the best! Will keep everyone informed when they’re ready to go! xo