Back in 2020 during the pandemic, the women's collective: Axinene Ari Vava (We are the owners, we are here!) was initiated. We launched a crowd funding campaign https://startsomegood.com/axinene-ilha-textiles and were successful over and above our target amount.
Now, we’re into our fourth year… WE ARE STILL HERE
2020 was all about pulling the project together, gathering the funds and readying ourselves to receive training in creative textile arts from @karinganatextiles https://changingnarratives.design/
We held weekly workshops to tease out ideas, tell stories, draw out creative potential, explore physicality, interrogate cultural practices and how they permeate the daily lives and routines of women and girls on Ilha; play to strengths, dance, sing, dress up and have fun.
December 2020 saw the official launch of the project with an in person visit from Wacy Zacarias and Djamila de Sousa (@Karingana Textiles) followed up by a series of zoom meetings.
Training and Product Development
By 2021 training had begun in earnest. The energy in the two-week workshop blocks was so high we were even visited by the police and asked to ‘keep it down’. (We still believe they were just jealous). We also caught the eye of USAID and were offered some extra funding.
Axinene Ari Vava developed their first product line: hand-dyed, hand-embroidered Tote bags which have continued to be very popular. A second product line came in the form of hand-dyed capulanas using discarded bark of mangrove poles, avocado pits (seasonal!), mulala – a type of stick normally used as a ‘toothbrush’ and onion skins.
And the third product line was ‘bandeiras’ (flag stories) - a textile that combined techniques of natural dyeing, embroidery and appliqué to marvelous effect.
Selling to the world
In early 2022 the island saw the return of expedition cruise ships and the women benefitted from their best sales yet. The injection of cash was much appreciated, especially after the devastation wreaked by Cyclone Gombe in March.
And here we are now in 2023 and still going strong. The year got off to a great start with visits from the Coral Geographer and the Silver Cloud expedition ships. They were sell-out shows! Axinene’s products are very popular – they are perfect souvenirs imbued with rich stories and natural energy; light-weight and super easy to slip into your luggage. They are ‘Ilha Unique'.
Next time you visit Ilha come in and see the project, chat with the women, do a bit of shopping, grab your own little piece of Ilha to take away.