Thursday, November 28, 2013 0 comments

a beautiful collaboration

This season we were excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with artist Naomi Van Rampelberg. Naomi is known for her fine, incredibly detailed work that she applies to glass as well as paper collage. For the first time ever she hand painted on fabric for our Tuareg inspired 2013 collection. Our glass jewelry was hand painted by the artist as well.
Check out more of her work on her facebook page. We're excited for Naomi as she exhibiting her collection at at Hangar311 Gallery in Mechelen, Belgium

Friday, May 24, 2013 1 comments

Solar energy in our workshop

Power outages are a common occurrence in Rwanda, but we've found a green solution to help us out. Solar lamps! The sun is not a scarce resource here in Rwanda. The team can charge their lamps while using them at their machines.

 Sun Kings charging in the bright sun, while our tailor uses it at his table. Efficient.

Shedding some light on our tailors as they sew our Isaro Tank Top.
Some tailors get more creative than others with how they mount their lamps.

Thursday, May 16, 2013 2 comments

there is something about Nairobi

There is something about Nairobi. Every time I set foot in the airport, I remember that summer of 2010, when Marc was building our very first mille collines store. There are so many emotional memories attached to those days when we were creating the very first one, the store that would give us green light to keep on breathing. I remember vividly Marc drawing for the first time a wooden table with 98 pieces that created a perfect puzzle. Or him phoning me from Nairobi to explain me how the electrician wanted to install speaker cables in our shop for the lighting. The tented camp he stayed in during the construction months; sometimes tented, sometimes a shared room, sometimes a dark old humid room. He asked for nothing more, asked for nothing less. I can still remember the blue Bata flip flops he wore during Kenyan winter four sizes smaller. With that will and that passion is how we made our first mille collines store happen.

There is something about Nairobi now, the home that Marc imagined and created through a lack of one during two years has turned out to be a magic place today. A place that is full of light, of fresh and new Africa, of optimistic surprise messages in places you would never expect them, of memories of a life we are leaving behind and expectations of a year we want to move forward faster than slower, bigger than smaller.
The apartment, home to co founder and brand is located in Parklands in a very peaceful street full of bushed that are perfectly shaped to the eye. This weekend we walked to Westlands to have breakfast and the following days have been a constant race of meetings after meetings.

There is something about Nairobi today, we have two stores and one that is on its way. Expectations are high and many times scary. Today was scary. However, in the peace of that house Marc imagined and customized to be, wrapped in a new blue striped blanket recently purchased to add a touch of color to the leather coach, cuddled by the glance of three beautiful people photographed in black and white on the wall above us there is nothing that can actually go wrong. We have built a brand that is so full of us, of the story of two young naïve and brave people and the beauty of a continent that will only open more to the world year after year.  

On a plane now back to my Kigali home. There will always be something about Nairobi.
Thank you Marc for always wrapping up my fears. For your determination and unconditional faith in mille collines.   

Friday, May 10, 2013 0 comments

Business romance

When you start a love story, everything smells like roses and tastes like fun. We fell in love with our business 4 years ago. That was the start of what would soon become a long lasting romance. We were so madly and crazy in love that we moved into a multi flawed apartment of 30m2 and saw in it only charms. No running water, rat parties at night in the garbage corner, and electricity cuts every evening. We prepared dinner on an electric cooker that would always stop 3min after we threw spaghettis. Oh yes, we were so in love that eating raw pasta was the best spaghetti “al dente” ever cooked. Yes, falling in love can be hard to remember.

 At some point that perfect pasta will starts tasting like raw uneatable spaghettis. That is when you have to face one of the hardest truths of love. No, you had not found perfection, you were blind to imperfection.  How do you keep on going after reality smashes you in the face like that? If you are lucky, already at that point you will be looking forward to a wide collection of dreams that feel beautiful and ambitious. Looking back won’t be painful but a sweet nostalgic memory.

Very often, we like to remember that flawed apartment in the middle of Kigali, we have a sharp memory of its smell, the sun coming in through the windows of a third floor and the bathroom painted half pink because we had no more paint left. Luckily, your brain tends to remember more vividly the good things so that you can keep moving when the bad ones come. Just like a love story, you wake up every morning to fight for something you believe in. Somehow, you will always manage to find new “al dente” pastas to fall in love with. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013 1 comments

Gatete, in love with leather.

Meet Gatete, our leather worker. He hand makes all our leather products.

The process is lengthy and time consuming, but the result is a quality bag that shows the beauty of what 'hand made' really means.

Meet our Akagera handbag.

Thursday, April 4, 2013 1 comments

New shop window: making off.

Thursday, March 28, 2013 0 comments

Books by hand

What do we do at mille collines when the power goes out?
make books by hand.

Very soon available in our stores.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 0 comments

The dyeing experience.

For our most recent runway collection we gave traditional kitengue fabric a new look by dyeing it dark muted colors. It was a successful endeavor, but as will all new collections, you then have the challenge of replicating these new ideas in order to get the product to stores.
This challenge led to a fun and tiring afternoon.

First step: organize and cut all the fabric to be dyed - no pot is big enough to hold all the fabric we needed to dye!

Step two: boil and stir. This left us all hot and thirsty, the fabric needs to boil for 20 minutes while you stir continuously, then lifting wet, steaming hot fabric out of the pots is no easy task.

Step Three: Get your buckets ready! Rinse rinse rinse until all the water runs clear. You need strong arms to twists out all the water.

Step Four: Hang the fabric to dry.

Final Step: Enjoy and big, cool glass of water, because you're finished!!

It was a successful day, and now we're ready to get the runway collection into stores!