Welcome to lisa b marler | kigali
When I drive through the hills moving outside of Kigali, seeing the children walking home from school in their uniforms encroaching too close to the fast moving roadway, and people jumping on and off those packed, old VW like buses that give off black smoke from burning oil, and the busy open air markets where stacks of tomatoes, carrots, and cabbage have been delivered on over-loaded bicycles pushed by farmers, even after five years here, I’m still amazed that I am…here.
Rwanda is beautiful, a small, lush, land-bound country in the middle of Africa. In the past, design and craftsmanship fell solidly behind earning a sustainable living, but in the last 15 years there has been strong resurgence to bring the arts back into the country and for craft production to become a business.
As an interior designer, I had ideas when I arrived, many, many ideas to my husband’s delight and dismay. With the ability to explore a number of those, I did. The idea of producing a handbag line came early in my time here, but I kept finding obstacles around quality manufacturing, so it got pushed aside for other pursuits, like hotel design and magazine production. In the back of my head the shapes and styles kept appearing, and at the end of 2016, I found the right combination of materials, manufacturing, and time.
lisa b marler | kigali is produced with leather from Africa, cow horn labels made in Kigali, Rwandan bees wax, kitenge fabric, and the craftsmen and women of the country. Workers and suppliers are paid a fair trade wage for their work. We work to bring a western quality and an African sense of style. We also continue to source products within the continent to make our bags exclusively African.
Our products are all handmade with the help of sewing machines, the leather is hand selected by us - we love finding pieces with character, the kitenge is purchased at the local markets, and the cow horn comes from a small co-operative in Kigali that makes our labels and also buttons for our home products. Though they look similar, each piece has its own story.
We hope you enjoy taking a piece of Rwanda home with you.