More people travel farther distances than they did just a few years ago. I travel to East Africa each year. Even those who don’t pack up and hop onto an airplane keep in touch with friends and relatives in faraway countries through email and phone calls.
As people throughout the world become better connected, it’s only natural that a gradual merging of cultures takes place. Just look at the growing popularity of East African patterns, materials, and accessories in the U.S. as an example.
As a designer and importer of East African accessories, I love the styles and colors that remind me of my Ugandan home. At the same time, I try to stay current on the shades and styles that are trending around New York. The key to creating East African-made designs that strike the right note on the U.S. market is being able to blend a bit of both worlds into the fresh design line that is Harkiss.
A couple of trends that I like to showcase at Harkiss Designs are the popularity of indigenous East African materials, such as banana leaf or bark cloth that have the exotic textures people love to stroke, and the fashion world’s appreciation of whatever is fresh and unique.
It’s so much fun to work with wonderful, sustainable East African materials and textures in the Harkiss Designs line and to make essential accessories like totes and handbags that have unique flair. I also enjoy tracking new trends before they flood the marketplace in order to bring Harkiss customers the very latest in leading-edge style.
Best of all, by helping to set the pace in the East African accessories marketplace in the U.S., Harkiss Designs is helping women-run craft cooperatives in East African communities become ever more self-sustaining while bringing the beautiful artistry of their traditional skills to an appreciative international marketplace.