Never fear we are still here and thankfully we weren't swallowed up by the recent floods that took hold of Lagos. A few dedicated folk made the choice to canoe or backstroke to work but I decided to stay put and plan my next moves for when the rain cleared up.
To update you, we are currently in what I like to call the lull phase of the design and manufacturing process where we sit back, make a number of phone calls, send a bunch of emails (occasionally watch Girlfriends season 3) and do a whole lotta waiting. A natural part of the 'slow fashion' experience and a very necessary one. We had originally hoped that all product samples would be completed by August 1 - but cheers to another deferred deadline (#slowfashion strikes again and we just have to adapt).
If you didn't know already, A few ethical fashion labels go through an intermediary such as Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI), a brilliant United Nations program who connects micro-communities of artisans from parts of the developing world (particularly Africa) to global fashion houses such as Sass and Bide or Stella McCartney through a network of hubs. Based on artisanal manufacturing, their model enables micro-artisans to produce directly for brands that distribute products worldwide.***
This method definitely saves more time and money and gets ideas across and deadlines completed in a much quicker manner. However, we've taken the other route and are attempting to do it all on our own (plus unfortunately, EFI and others don't seem to be based in Nigeria yet). Lone ranger Shekudo tends to take a lot more time and effort and it can be quite disheartening on those days where you have to keep sending samples back and forth before you get the correct shoe design. However, this is the path we've chosen #robertfrost - and we aim to create a strong team around us without an intermediary (as helpful as they can be) for now. I also secretly like feeling like a lone ranger daredevil and risking my life on the okadas (the local bike) from A to Z and comparing the Moi Moi (my favourite food in the whole wide world) from one location to another. More raw and natural experiences are had this way. So... win win win.
From hours of travel, lots of discussions and referrals, a stack of trial and error - we finally have a small team scattered across Nigeria working on our pieces. Currently, our shoe heels are being hand made in Aba (8 hours East of Lagos), our woven fabric is being created in Badagry (2.5 hours West of Lagos) our silver is being sourced from Jos (16 hours North-East of Lagos) and the leather and assembly of our products are being done right across Lagos (Ikeja, Obalande and Surulere). So I think it's safe to say that every piece being constructed is truly Nigerian, travelling across borders, between religions and bouncing along tribal groups. Each piece represents a unity in diversity model, showcasing the talents and stories of the many hands that have touched it. That is what we want and love. Eventually the end goal is that the Shekudo team will be made up of 95% female workers which is an ambitious process and involves a lot of education and training, but for now we are grateful for the hands involved.
So here's to the Lagos lull, until we receive our next batch of samples and wait for the next unavoidable deferred deadline, we will keep pressing on, adapting and hope that our supports will understand.
Until next time friends, unless of course it's deferred.
***Read more here about EFI