When I was in my early twenties, I spent two years on the diplomatic floors because I thought by joining diplomacy, the UN more specifically, I could change the world. Looking back and reading this, I have to smile. I still think that diplomacy is very important and organisations such as the UN are essential. However, the speed and long-term perspective really did not work for me. I wanted to have an impact (ideally, an immediate one) and see how I can help change things.
During that time, I was fortunate to work in the field of anti-human-trafficking directly with NGOs supporting victims. I really learned a lot and knew that this was something I wanted to do. Unfortunately, the position was not a permanent one and I had to move on.
Roughly at the same time, a friend who told me that her plan was to build a career, track record and capital and then run her own foundation one day. That way she could see direct impact and not be dependent on long processes and governments. I think you have to have the right mindset to become a diplomat. Maybe my friend was right to try something on her own.
I have always loved fashion, luxury and design. But it really bugged me that even if I spend a lot of money, I can never be sure if the items are ethically sourced, apply a sustainable approach and are not made by using modern slavery. (If you have time, check rankabrand.org, for example, and look up your favourite brands regarding their ethics. When I did it for the first time, I was shocked.)
Pelagona did not come out of the blue. I had had the idea for it for quite some time. In 2016 I read Glamour Girls by Lousie Bagshaw – a light beach read about three friends. In the book, the three found a department store where they source from independent designers and women’s initiatives in foreign countries such as Jordan. This story of the three entrepreneurs was so similar to my idea and I could not stop thinking about it. But 2016 was the year I launched the fitness app. Hence, there was no way I could start another business on the side. But I still had it in the back of my mind.
As you may have discovered by now, my vision for Pelagona is to offer luxury items which are not only beautiful but also ethically and sustainably made. Furthermore, I would like to support women by offering them a viable livelihood and keeping local arts and crafts alive.
Over the past months, I have started to get in touch with initiatives all over the world to source from them for the store. And I am really excited to announce our latest partnership with the Mulikyondo Basket Weavers Initiative in Kenya. The beautiful baskets are available on pelagona.com now.
All the items are handmade mostly by mothers and daughters. Basket weaving has become an important way of income for the women as agriculture has been challenged by climate change. The income through the weaving allows the women financial freedom and, hence, less dependency on their husbands and/or extended communities or relatives. Furthermore, meeting for weaving reaffirms their social interactions and strengthens their community. It allows them to discuss the issues they face with other women and offer advice for each other.
By purchasing one of the baskets you not only add beauty to your home but also empower female artisans. I am really happy that this collaboration worked out. This is why I founded Pelagona and I hope that many more partnerships of this kind will be added to our collection soon. I hope you are as excited about this way of shopping and doing good at the same time. Stop by Pelagona and check out how easy it can be to have an impact!
PS: On Pelagona’s Instagram account, I will share more information about the basket weavers and their products this week.