Why we set up Artisanne
Artisanne has grown out of two sisters, Elizabeth and Emma, discovering and growing to love the work of local artisans while living in and visiting Senegal over the last six years.
At first, we visited local markets in the capital, Dakar, to buy baskets for our own homes, where we used them to store laundry, children’s toys and household knick-knacks. Stylish and unique, they also made great presents for friends and family.
Our passion for the baskets was matched by their popularity amongst those we gave them to. So we soon began to look for ways to bring the work of these talented Senegalese women to your homes.
From the beginning, we have aimed to work directly with the weavers, ensuring they earn a fair and secure income for their products. This meant Emma travelling through the villages in the Thiès region down remote dirt tracks to spend time looking at collections of baskets and sharing bowls of curdled milk (a local speciality!) with villagers as she explained the project.
We soon identified groups of artisans interested in working with us. The hours spent talking in the shade of a Nime tree involved much laughter and helped establish strong relationships and an understanding of the intricacies of their craft. A large Ali Baba basket, for example, takes several days to produce. It also provided the women with the opportunity to understand Artisanne's need for consistency with regards to quality and size, and based on that negotiate a price that seemed fair to them and to us.
Each piece is created with meticulous attention to detail and is crafted respecting the traditional Senegalese Wolof weaving style whilst incorporating contemporary designs and colours.
The baskets are made by women in villages in the Thiès region, where weaving techniques have been handed down from generation to generation and where the baskets are still used for general storage.
The baskets are weaved from a local grass, ndiorokh, and long strips of plastic that are typically used for making bazin mats, similar to prayer mats. Weaving the plastic tightly and closely together ensures that the baskets are sturdy and long-lasting.
We believe the range of Artisanne products – which are a blend of traditional weaving techniques and modern design – beautifully combines the long-established traditions of these Wolof women with stylish, practical household storage.