SAWA SAWA Collection works with women in rural communities in Kenya to support their artisans by providing a direct conduit to an international retail market, and supplies and materials to those that would like to create but lack the resources. Traditionally rural artisans have been forced to sell to local merchants, who resell at local markets. Traders buy from these markets and resell to markets in nearby cities. From there, the artisans’ work is often bought and resold again before reaching the end user. By working directly with the rural artisans themselves, SAWA SAWA Collection bypasses the merchants and resellers, providing the artisans with pricing that better reflects their efforts and the inherent value of their abilities. Freed from a sustenance-level piece-work pricing model, the women are much better able to provide for themselves – regardless of marital status, reducing or eliminating reliance on extended family or other support. With independence and relative prosperity, they positively impact their local communities through increased spending and by attracting other women to direct their efforts accordingly.
SAWA SAWA Collection has also established educational programs for rural women that provide birth control information and resource contacts, and female empowerment. Traditional and religious protocols often cause the women of rural Kenya to find themselves trapped – emotionally, and financially. By facilitating an increased standard of living and instructing our artisans on the resources and options that are available to them, SAWA SAWA Collection seeks to help end dependency and promote confidence and independence.
Based in Dripping Springs, Texas, just west of Austin, SAWA SAWA Collection is a 501c3 nonprofit fashion brand that celebrates the brave, bold, hardworking, and resilient African artisan woman. Our earrings, necklaces, bracelets, accessories, shoes, clothing, sculptures, bags, and works of art are intricately handcrafted in Kenya using age-old traditional techniques, and are sourced through fair trade practices and our partnerships with artisan families.
By incorporating a chic, feminine, and modern style with traditional craftwork methods, our designers work to create an affordable fashionable collection – with a dash of luxury. We hope we have produced a style destination for the modern, inspired woman while providing the artisan women in Kenya with a sustainable, dignified income to support their families, and to share their designs and love of their craft with the world.
We also work with local Kenyan communities to bring sustainable solutions to day to day problems through programs funded by grants and product sales. These include clean water access, nutritious food choices, female empowerment programs, and eradication of poverty and dependency.
About Me: Anne Drane – Founder – SAWA SAWA Collection
I was born and raised in Kenya. I now reside in Dripping Springs, Texas (15 miles west of Austin) with my husband, Walter, and daughter, Haley. I never really appreciated the beauty and charm of the Kenyan culture until I moved to the USA. Looking at my culture from ‘outside the box’, I realized how unique and inspired the artwork is, which has taken thousands of years to develop and perfect into the amazing, vibrant state of quality and design it is today.
I started buying fashion accessories and bags for myself, and found that soon I was getting a lot of complements and requests to sell to my friends. I founded what was then – Anne Drane collection – selling accessories, sandals, bags etc. on Etsy, then Amazon and eBay. My (most awesome) mother traveled to rural Kenyan villages and bought the jewelry and sandals for me and sent them to me here.
I then became re-acquainted with an old high school classmate and friend, Kate. We both have Business degrees in Finance. She was new to being a stay-at-home mom with her 2 daughters and so was I. We got to talking and decided to partner up. Kate works directly with the artisans of rural Kenya. She sources traditional designs but also has a team of designers and stylists that create in modern styles as well.
I am inspired and motivated by the economic impact to these rural communities and artisan women that has started to blossom as the SAWA SAWA Collection has grown. Our artisans are able to provide independently for themselves and their families while expressing their creativity and love of their artwork. We hope to continue to work with more artisans as we grow and share their styles with lovers of art and expression throughout the world.
Connect with me on Instagram, Pinterest, WordPress and Facebook @sawasawausa
Meet my daughter, Haley. She is 3 now. Incredibly bright, curious, talented and all around gorgeous. She was and continues to be the inspiration behind my line. She is Kenyan and caucasian. I hope to use my work with tribal women in Kenya to teach her about her heritage, culture and traditions and to give her a sense of self. I hope that being of service to people who are less fortunate will teach her gratitude, selflessness, empathy and a need to show up and do something. I look forward to when she is older and can join me on trips to the villages in Kenya.