The bustling markets of Dakar and the people who we met there are such an important part of the Madame Tây creation process. We spent hours trawling through piles of fabric, visiting shop after shop and chatting with so many shop assistants and traders, its hard to remember everyone's names!
Today, we're giving you a glimpse of Marché HLM - Dakar's largest and most renown textile market. HLM is the place we found lots of our wax print, some of the cotton and silk-mix linings we used, as well as buttons and zips. We'd like to show you around, and introduce you to some of the people we worked with to source all our materials. If you're in Dakar and are looking for textile supplies, drop us a line and we'll gladly pass on our friends' contact details.
This is Malick. Malick runs Dakar's best zip store! It is tiny, and full to the brim of bags upon bags of zips of all shapes, colours and sizes. Cara would go to see Malick and ask for a specific size, colour and type of zip and he would deftly climb piles of bags to the exact place where such a zip was kept. For a few weeks during production, Malick had travelled to a different city and Cara and his replacement spent hours looking for the right zips - no one else knows his store like he does!
This is Abdou. Abdou runs a tiny little stall inside the dark corridors of HLM market. He is incredibly friendly and was super patient as Cara stumbled through her broken Wolof to explain what sort of fabric she was looking for everytime she'd visit him. Abdou would help her search the whole market if she needed a specific colour or fabric, and sold us lots of the lovely, thick cotton and some beautifully soft silk-mix that we used to line some of our garments.
This is Yaye - you might remember him from our blog post last year about indigo fabric. Cara was super happy to run into him at HLM market once again, and bought lots of great indigo thioup - a soft, beaten cotton fabric from Guinea. Yaye is well known around HLM - when Cara went to see him, she learnt to ask around for 'Borom Thioup' ('borom' is Wolof for 'boss') and would quickly find him. Yaye is a lovely guy, and speaks some English as he grew up in anglophone Gambia, but prefers to converse in Wolof - which was a gladly accepted challenge for Cara! Yaye also has incredible balance and will walk around HLM with a (heavy!) pile of cloth resting on his head.
This is Mohammed. Mohammed is originally from Sierra Leone, and would enthusiastically greet Cara in English everytime she walked past! Mohammed owns his stall in conjuction with his mother, who herself has her own stall further into the market. Mohammed sells a range of beautiful wax print, but his best seller is the hand-jewelled lengths of lace (in the photos he is using his embossing machine to apply the blingy jewels that Senegalese women adore!). Mohammed was really helpful, and very patient as Cara decided upon which gorgeous wax prints to purchase for our new collection.
Thanks to Djibril Drame for the photos.