Monday, 6 April 2015

West African Inspiration: Aissatou Sene of Bélya

One of my favourite things about being back in Dakar is being surrounded by young creatives who are all incredibly driven and determined to succeed. It seems like every second person you meet here is an entrepreneur who has given up the rat race to pursue their own creative passions.

 Today I want to introduce you to one of these people - Aissatou Sene who runs the brand Bélya.

Aissatou has been running Bélya since 2012. Over the past three years, Bélya has grown from a small passion project, to an internationally recognised brand. Here in Dakar, wax print brogues and loafers are now synoymous with Bélya. Creating and selling unique and original products in a place like Dakar where every second person has a small fashion business is not always easy, but Aissatou's creative eye and business savvy has led to her continued success.

Continually striving to create original, beautiful products, Aissatou's collections over the years have included both mens and womenswear, and a range of handbags and women's shoes.

Most recently, Aissatou has launched an initiative to produce locally-made hand-dyed fabrics by forming a women's workshop in Lompoul, in Northern Senegal, where her Grandmother lives. The workshop will train and employ at least twenty women to dye and sew fabric, and will provide them with fair wages and a sustainable income source. The fabric produced in the workshop will be recycled cotton, and will be dyed and treated entirely in Senegal by a Senegalese workforce - which will make it one of the only fabrics available here that is authentically Senegalese. 

We love the initiative - to see a young Senegalese designer like Aissatou think outside of the box, and  directly address the lack of locally made textiles available in Senegal is nothing short of inspirational, and we are very excited to see the fabric the workshop will produce!
For the workshop to come to fruition, Belya needs our help. They have launched an Indiegogo campaign and are offering some very generous thank you gifts for donations over $45 (which will all be made with the fabric from the workshop!). Belya will ship all thank you gifts internationally too, which is great news if you're outside of Senegal! 

Please watch the video, and follow the below link to donate generously to this exciting initiative.

You can support Belya's Indiegogo campain here