Conservation & environment

Why your napkin has a story to tell

17 August 2022

Organic cotton sourced from rural communities is hand woven into our contemporary designs in the back streets of Arusha.

You don't have to go much further than a bobbin of cotton before you find some of our local artisans’ workshops dotted across Arusha. Irene first caught the eye of one of our Nomad camp designers when some of her handiwork was displayed in a local craft fair. With our philosophy of sourcing local for Nomad camps, and always keen to support talented entrepreneurs, it didn't take us long to visit Irene’s workshop and learn more about her and her cottons.

Irene had retired from a fulfilling career with the UN, but a restless spirit at heart and still wanting to do something positive to address the disparity she saw in her community, she had started a social enterprise and, being interested in textiles and conscious that this industry is under-represented in Tanzania, begun a weaving workshop. Sourcing cotton from rural Tanzanian communities, she looked for the best spinners and weavers she could find and set them up in a little workshop in the backstreets of Arusha. Hand-died yarn is spun and woven into bedspreads, throws and napkins.

Our designers work with Irene, selecting colours and patters to ensure each piece is of a Nomad style and standard, but the rest we leave to Irene and her team, content in the knowledge that not only have these cottons come from some of Tanzania’s poorer communities, but also that our involvement has meant that skills are being passed down to people who use them to make a living, a trade is being revived for future generations to benefit, and their workshop is never short of orders. By partnering with Irene, we help make sure that there is a constant flow of work, with much of what is coming out of their workshop going straight to Nomad camps; lying on our beds, hugging our pillows, and keeping our guests warm around the camp fire of an evening, Irene’s rural cottons have now come a long way.

Watching and hearing the shuttle clatter across the hundreds of individual strings, binding them together in a beautifully soft finished cloth, one can’t help but look at it differently, and with altogether more reverence for the work and skill that has gone into its creation.

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