Being from an entrepreneurial family, it was almost inevitable that the path Louise Sommerlatte chose was influenced by what she was most accustomed to: creativity.
Hamaji, meaning nomad in Swahili, is a heart and soul brand working with local artisans across Africa, as well as supporting ancient textiles and nomadic craft. “I studied fashion design in Cape Town and Hamaji was actually my final year project. After I graduated and headed back to Kenya, I thought: why not establish a brand and pursue it full-time?” says Louise.
Beyond the rich embroidery, intricate beading and patchwork, what reeled me in to each Hamaji piece is how it seems to perfectly flow as if dancing to the silent Kenyan desert song. Not far from the truth, as indeed Hamaji garments are designed to unravel a tale of history and heritage. In the three years of Hamaji’s existence, Louise sources traditional textiles, vintage textiles as well as any beautiful leftover textile scraps for her designs. She then designs and works directly with local craftsmen to bring her vision to life. Clearly, there is no denying that heart of this brand has its roots deep in sustainability.
When asked how she spends a typical day, she chuckles and responds: “I spend most days in my studio where I design, oversee the garments and take care of marketing and social media. It is currently a one woman show, so there is always a lot to do.”
Naturally, I asked her how she manages to tackle entrepreneurial challenges and still find time to herself. In her words, you get exactly what you put in; in the face of challenge, you must keep calm, believe in yourself and remember that there are more, bigger struggles happening in the world. Don’t be fooled though, it’s not all work and no play for this Kenyan damsel. You’ll often catch her out and about with her biggest support system; her friends.
Images are courtesy of Hamaji.
Words: Khumoetsile Seamogano