Last week was World Fair Trade Day and I decided to wear my Johari Tafriji dress as I love the pink colour and leopard design but also because I wanted to celebrate a brand that is really making a difference to peoples lives in Africa. I am also featuring Johari in my ‘Story Behind the Brand’ series as I think there is a really interesting story behind their clothes.
Johari’s Philosphy is simple, they believe that fashion should be ethical, stylish and beautiful. Johari means ‘something precious’ in Swahili and each piece of clothing and jewellery is handmade in Kenya by Social Enterprise Johari Designs. Johari empowers vunerable young adults to build a living for themselves and their families.
I have posted about Johari in the past here so thought that this time I would focus on the story of just one people behind the brand.
In its work with schools the Johari Foundation has recognised a need for support of particular children with their educational and social needs. They aim to help improve the employment prospects and provide long term economic opportunities for children who don’t have high academic achievements and avoid them being caught in a trap of poverty, drugs or prostitution.
Agnes (pictured above) is just one of the girls that has been employed by Johari as an apprentice on their Miale Scholarshop Scheme in Naorobi Kenya. 100% of the profits from the sales of Johari products go into funding this project.
“Ever since joining Johari as an apprentice my life has changed for the better. At Johari I have found a team that has encouraged me to look at life positively and found a reason to believe in a possibility of a good future. I have so far perfected my skills in dressmaking, and I’m familiar with purchasing of the workshop materials”.
Agnes has been working in the Johari designs studio, a bright airy space with plenty of natural daylight on the top floor of a building in central Narobi, since 2008. The workshop is well equipped with sewing machines, overlockers and jewellery making equipment. Agnes’s roles at Johari include making sure the production department have the necessary materials, sourcing and purchasing at least twice a week and compiling weekly reports. She says that her favourite aspect of working with Johari is purchasing as she gets to meet lots of different suppliers. She also likes unique items like the Ungana Necklace.
As part of the scholarship, apprentices are be given the opportunity to gain exposure to all aspects of the design, manufacturing and sales process. The girls divide their time between hand making intricate jewellery and dress making. They work between 9am and 5pm with 2 breaks and an hour for lunch and recieve £100 per month in pay plus access to people who can help with any social issues that they have including additional support with housing if needed.