Our first post to let you know how and why I started KEARA.
I have been living in Senegal for almost four years now, and feel at home. I think that the one thing that made me appreciate living here is the way people live; there is a strong feeling of unity and togetherness that I've never experienced in my own country, Bolivia.
KEARA started when I met a fantastic artisan (Mbaye in the picture), someone contagiously dedicated and passionate about his job. Somebody refer him to me, without knowing exactly his name or telephone number, she just said, "go to the market and look for his shop". Of course in that market you have more than one shop that sells leather bags, but I casually walked down into his shop, like I knew where I was going.
I had some fabrics back from Bolivia, and a bag design in mind. We started making two bags, I remember we used black leather and multicolor fabrics. I was truly amazed by the quality of his work, each detail counted for him, and he constantly acknowledged the flaws and areas that needed improvement.
Our good relationship fueled KEARA, as we both want it to succeed, and while we are just starting, I feel that we made a lot of progress since those first two bags, especially in terms of quality. We upgraded our hardware by importing Riri zippers and other high quality accessories from the US, I reached out to various local leather producers in Fès (Morocco), and some others in Ethiopia. I also figure out ways to transport our fabrics all the way from Bolivia, all of which contributes to a more solid supply chain that improves everyday. On his side, he started training other artisans and setting up solid production standards.
A lot more needs to happen. We have big dreams for KEARA. For the time being, our first priority is to facilitate online purchases by integrating credit cards. Since we are based in Senegal, this service is not yet available, but we are working on it. Shipping was also a challenge, but thanks to a great Senegalese company, we are able to offer free shipping to France and other EU countries. US and Canada require some shipping costs, that are way below DHL rates.
Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get to know us better, your suggestions and impressions are more than welcome. We'd love to hear from you. We are open to all sorts of collaboration. Till the next post!