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Robin Sirleaf

Reconnecting with my roots, a love story.

At Sarep + Rose we believe in promoting traditional African craftsmanship through repurposed design. I personally visit and spend time with the people that make our goods. I go through markets, sit in workshops, sift through leathers, textiles and fastenings to create items that work for you, yet are born from an authentic process.

Indigenous fabrics such as ‘Kita’ and ‘Baoule’ from the Cote D’Ivoire, Kenyan Kikoye and Shuka’s worn by the Masaai tribe and Liberian ‘country cloth’ have been handwoven for thousands of years. They were once used as currency, included in dowries, and traded across the continent. Though they are still worn by prominent societal leaders on special occasions and as smart-casual shirts, the influx of second-hand clothing across the continent now means that reviving and protecting the industry for these ancient handcrafted textiles is now urgent.

Leatherwork is an industry that has no barriers of age, gender, or education to provide employment. Some of our artisans work without electricity and belong to tribes and communities that have worked with leather for centuries to create shelter, saddlery, weaponry and adornments. Others are men and women who for the first time, have the opportunity to create with their hands and receive continual technical training in large teams on a daily basis.

In combining traditional handwoven textiles and leatherworking skills with contemporary design, we are building the platform for the future of African manufacturing. This kind of private sector, value-added activity is the only way economies on the continent will continue to evolve for its citizens.

Sourcing in developing nations is by no means the easiest way to run my business, but I wouldn’t do it any other way. Thank you for joining us on this journey.