WORDS Amelia Brown IMAGES courtesy of Thola Africa
Cause meets convenience with tholaafrica.com – a new online marketplace of curated fashion and decor crafted by African artisans and designers.
Thola Africa is a not-for-profit organisation with the motto “Discover Africa at your fingertips”. Its goal is to partner with small local producers, brands and entrepreneurs and provide a platform for them to showcase their craft and talent, while making African design conveniently available to a global audience.
“Thola Africa makes it so much easier to consume African brands online and keep them right at our fingertips,” says photographer and director Anthony Bila (@theexpressionist). He was one of five tastemakers who recently toured the production facilities of five of Thola Africa’s partner brands. He visited Leather Zulu, a Johannesburg-based brand that manufactures specialist leather goods.
“The experience was incredible,” he continues. “I was so excited to see a female, black-owned company producing world-class goods, with quality that can compete with products from Italy or anywhere else in the world.”
Editor, CEO and fashionista Zoe Msutwana (@zoemsutwana) explored Lashongwe, which specialises in contemporary handcrafted jewellery. “It was a fascinating visit. I learnt some of the issues that face a small business like Lashongwe, particularly in the realm of distribution. Walking out, I could see how a platform like tholaafrica.com really helps them to address this,” Zoe shares.
Stylist and culture curator Kwena Baloyi (@kwenasays) visited Sibahle Collection, which produces a range of diverse dolls to foster inclusion and representation; Lerato Kgamanyane (@lerato_kgamanyane), digital entrepreneur, PR maven and fashion trendsetter, visited Galago, which manufactures unique shoes sustainably and ethically. Lastly, Naledi Sibisi (@naledisibisi), CEO of The Throne online magazine, visited Tshwane Hub of Arts (THOA), a collective that is helping to upskill and empower local creatives and craftsmen.