The rural Swazi reality isn’t as bright as the colorful pieces crafted by them. Finding themselves having to pay for transport to clinics, school fees and support an average of 7 children, Swazi women found their way to overcome the challenges instant approval loans and empower themselves financially.
Gone Rural is a holistically sustainable company that enabled the craft of over 760 Swazi women to reach 32 countries, establishing a respectful relationship between the world and the Swazi cultural heritage and community. The company, creatively directed by Philippa Thorne, a Central Saint Martins graduate, was very successful with their use of local resources and keeping Swazi traditions – the invasive weed, sisal fibre, used as one of the materials for the products, grows the year-through and doesn’t threaten the biodiversity; the lutindzi grass, which in Swazi means “Flora of Swaziland” is another fibre used for the fabrication, harvested once every 12 months without damaging the roots, is enough for the whole year.
The community work enables generations to work together and share skills and precious moments with their families and friends. The women naturally developed their own network and side jobs, trading food or clothes amongst each other. All the new designs or skills introduced to the production are studied and passed onto every woman, who then add their own creative touches to it.
A complementary non-profit company was then founded, in 2007, by Philippa, in order to provide the community with access to education, guarantying it for 360 children annually through School Fees Bursary Fund, Motivational Training and Early Childhood Development; health through Mobile Wellness clinic, Peer Education and access to holistic homeopathic care; community development through clean water, food and shelters; and women’s empowerment, through teaching artisans how to read and write, save and invest money and learning about their basic human rights.
Mixing traditional techniques and aesthetics with contemporary ethical designs, the psychedelic homewear and accessories pieces are handmade and unique, and a true example of what design can change lives.