I just got back from Mali, and you know what was one of my favorite stops? Le Ndomo in Segou. It’s a company that employs local artisans to make beautiful products, from blankets and scarves to pillows and napkins.
The aim of Le Ndomo is to give young people — particularly those who may not have had a chance to go to school — a chance to build some technical expertise and to learn some valuable life skills, including responsibility, personal commitment and solidarity. But that’s not all. They also learn firsthand what it takes to run a prosperous business — from quality management and commercialization to successful marketing and investment.
All of their products are 100 percent cotton and eco-friendly, including their packaging. They make their dyes from bark, leaves and iron-rich mud, and it was amazing to see all the different variations and possibilities the dyes can create on cloth.
The work — spinning, weaving and decorating — is all done by hand. It takes years of training to learn, but the end result is amazing. I tried to make a design myself, but I think it’s better to leave it to the masters!
ONE’s sister organization, (RED), Converse and Hallmark have all worked with Le Ndomo, and it’s no secret as to why. The craftsmanship and attention to detail on all the products is nothing but amazing. More importantly, it was extremely uplifting and inspiring to watch the proud craftsmen take such pride in their work at their stations. I was so impressed with their artistry.