LOCATED IN Madagascar

Social enterprise Razafindrabe Collections works with artisans in Madagascar, the majority of whom are women who have multiple children and have not previously had access to a formal education. Through their work, they can earn a sustainable income, participate in essential skill development opportunities, and provide food and cover daily expenses for their families.

They can also send their children to school when otherwise, children often stay at home to help financially support their families. Razafindrabe is a family name, and family is at the center of this group’s work. Razafindrabe Collections also supports the local primary school with basic supplies and donates 10 percent of its profits to the lunch program.

The artisans practice intricate weaving, crocheting, and braiding techniques that are often passed down across generations of women and shared by local associations that offer training programs. Artisans locally source raffia leaves and sustainable materials from markets to create timeless pieces including baskets, bags, and clutches. Based on the color palette, the strands of raffia are dyed with natural powders, which is a process that can take up to three days. After the materials are dyed and completely air-dried, the artisans weave the raffia strands into the product. Once completed, these pieces are lined and finished with decorative accents based on the design and shape. Approximately three artisans will work on one basket together.

Native to tropical regions of Africa, raffia grows mostly in Madagascar and is harvested from the western and northeastern parts of the country. The fiber is extracted from palm leaves, which helps the palm tree itself grow well. Once the fiber is harvested, farmers wash it with a neutral soap and allow it to dry. Razafindrabe Collections sources the raffia from a local vendor working with these farmers on-the-ground. After the fiber is dried and prepared, artisans will begin to weave the desired product. Select pieces come with handles made from vegetable leather, sourced from a family who has been in the business for more than three decades; their leatherman is a certified leatherworker.