RETAIL SPOTLIGHT I LEI-LEI

Maria Murphy, a fashion industry executive with over 30 years of experience, founded her passion project Lei-Lei while holding the position of VP of Sales for Tahari Arthur S. Levine. She took time out of her busy schedule to hang out with us for our March retail spotlight.

What made you purchase Sasa Designs? The first purchase I made was through our friends at Global Goods Partners. We have a soft spot for them because they introduced us to you and your beautiful products! The reaction to the beaded hoops we first carried was overwhelming and we sold out of them right away. We reordered but then realized that we needed to get our hands on a greater assortment of colors and items. That’s when we went direct and had the pleasure of meeting Megan and her parents at NY NOW. We were immediately embraced by Megan’s warmth and passion and felt a connection to her work ethic and drive to help others.

What do your customers love about Sasa product? Our customers love the story behind the Sasa products! They feel compassion for the women artisans and immediately want to make the heartfelt purchase. Of course it doesn’t hurt that everything we carry by Sasa is so good looking and well made!! It’s a win-win combination.

What impact has our partnership had? We started this business on the belief that helping others eventually helps the entire world. Our socially conscious e-commerce marketplace showcases handmade items by women artisans from impoverished countries around the world. Our goal is to inspire positive consumer behavior to bring about real change, both in society as well as the environment. The Sasa brand meshes perfectly with our Lei-Lei mission of empowering women and enabling them to achieve self sufficiency, pride and strength. You ask about the impact your brand has had on our partnership… the other day I received a lovely note from a new customer who has worn hearing aids for years. She was thrilled to hear about Sasa working with deaf women to create products and support their families and purchased 2 Unity necklaces! I was so touched by the story she shared and knowing that we together…Lei-Lei and Sasa…could bring about positive change to women around the world while sharing the story with our consumers.

What's your favorite piece of Sasa? My personal favorites are the Earth Collection Stone Hoop Earrings…in every color!!! I wear them all the time with everything I own. They are so incredibly light and comfortable that I forget I have them on. I get so many compliments making it a super easy sell! We have reordered all of the colors several times and will continue to buy back into them throughout the year. If new colored stones become available you can be sure that we will buy those too!! Close second favorite piece…the Unity Necklace…love this too worn layered and in fact wore both of my favorites at a recent photo shoot used for an interview blog post resulting in more orders!!

 

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Bravery. Courage. Women.

This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the power of a first step, and the courage it takes.

Last October, Merina took a daring first step onto a shaky platform floating high above the heads of her peers. The group had greeted the ropes course with trepidation, fearful of the three-story climb. Someone needed to go first, and Merina was quick to volunteer.

Carefully making her way up the post with her friends cheering her on, Merina reached the stepping off point - the moment where she had to release her hold and trust her first step onto a floating platform.

As Merina reached the platform, the group was elated. Her bravery showed those on the ground that conquering the course was possible. One by one, every single woman made the same climb and finished the course.

 

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SASA STYLE I DATE NIGHT

SLICE OF HAITI SCARF   I   MARA NECKLACE   I   ORGANIC SHRUG 
FASHIONABLE GLENDA CLUTCH   I  SHINE ON COPPER WRAP
NISOLO AUSTIN NOIR

Love. We all need a little.

Make a date with your favorite person this February.
You know... the one that makes you feel great. Here at Sasa Designs, we love our moms, our dads, our friends and our significant others. Make Valentine's Day about spreading joy this year and spending time with people who mean the most.

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RETAIL SPOTLIGHT I THE FLOURISH MARKET

Emily Sexton, Founder of The Flourish Market in Raleigh, North Carolina, sat down with us to share some of her thoughts on Sasa Designs.

What made you purchase Sasa Designs? First of all, I loved the unique design of the pieces. And then to know that they were made by courageous women - that sealed the deal!

What do your customers love about Sasa product? My customers love to buy Sasa products for themselves, and they LOVE to gift the earrings to their friends and loved ones. I always look to buy pieces for our store that will demand a compliment when our customers wear the item, and that rings so true for all of the Sasa products that we carry :)

What impact has our partnership had? While I know that my customers have been able to provide dignified jobs to the women with which Sasa partners, there has been a big impact on the women in my community that shop at The Flourish Market. I teamed up with the Sasa Team to put together something very special for our dressing rooms in our flagship Raleigh, NC store. Hanging on the wall is a beautiful picture of the women that make the gorgeous Sasa Designs products in Kenya and they wrote a message of encouragement to our customers that inspires them to overcome their setbacks and use their strength and power to change the world. It is so moving for our customers to read, and I love that they can leave our store empowered by the women with which we partner with across the globe.

What's your favorite piece of Sasa? The Equator Hoops - I love that I can wear them every day but they give me a bit of an edge. I like to think of myself as an every day relatable gal with a dash of spice, so these earrings are my spirit animal (wink). You are slaying the earrings!!!! Our customers can't get enough!

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ARTISAN MADE I HANDMADE IS HUMAN

We helped say goodbye to 2016 in the company of some of the greatest allies we have in the artisan movement – at the Handmade is Human meeting at the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise in Washington D.C. in December. The day’s agenda included content covering artisan story, finance and the role the sector can play in addressing the struggle of refugees around the world. As usual, the day was full of inspiration, ideation and the opportunity to recognize the work being done by so many organizations in so many countries, to elevate artisan goods.

Here's Nina Weissberg of the Weissberg Foundation sharing her "Big Idea" for the Artisan Sector.

 

Sasa Designs was thrilled to share our award-winning film with some of the newer members of the Alliance, and our President, Megan MacDonald, also participated in a panel about a major project underway to create a donor-advised fund for artisan financing. Megan will also be utilizing a tool created by the Alliance, in partnership with support from the US Department of State and Pricewaterhouse Coopers, to guide our artisan partners through an innovation workshop later this Spring. We can’t wait to offer our artisans exposure to the larger market they are part of, and help them understand more about the role they play in offering consumers ethical shopping and fashion choices.

Megan on the panel "UNLOCKING ECONOMIC VALUE IN THE ARTISAN SECTOR" alongside Mathew Gamser of the International Finance Corporation
Megan with Simone Cipriani of the Ethical Fashion Initiative

Participating in the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise has been a great opportunity for Sasa Designs, and we encourage all of our retail and wholesale partners and customers to explore the work they’re doing to help people #chooseartisan and recognize that #handmadeishuman!

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SASA STYLE I YOGA

Are you ready to breathe in some good?

We'd like to make a few suggestions for looking great in your strongest warrior pose starting with our new Shanzu Yoga Bag

A few blocks from the calm Kenyan coastline, an airy workshop is filled with a variety of physically and mentally challenged women - all of whom now have a future to look forward to. Shanzu Project trains these women to sew, utilizing Kenya's traditional Kikoy cloth to make exceptionally useful and charming products.

 We're loving these other great brands that share our ideals.

 

YOGASMOGA

Honoring the tenets of Yoga, YOGASMOGA aspires to create world-class products and shares our values of social responsibility, collaboration and a need for fair wages. Products are made in the USA, but YOGASMOGA recognizes textile production is typically done in the most challenged economic locations in the world. NAMASKÁR FOUNDATION has been created to give back.

The Namaskár Foundation seeks to provide micro loans to individuals in developing economies who have no access to banks. These micro loans provide an opportunity to individuals to jump-start small cottage industries that over time generate income. Read more here...

 

MINDFUL MATS

Four California girls, mentored by one empowered and mindful mama make up the creators of Mindful Mats. Mom, Janet Roberts, is a career abstract painter. Her beautiful images are now being turned into a meditation, prayer and yoga mats.

The mats are made from recyclable material, free of PVC, plastics and fumes. Each mat is 1/4" deep, 24" x 72" and made in California.

Check out Mindful Mats here...

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Season of Dreams

When something good happens, the deaf raise their hands and shake them in joy. It's an open and shared gesture that captures gratitude as hands reach high and a person's whole body engages. On our last trip to Kenya, there was much cause for celebration and sharing this practice of gratitude. Our deaf partners in Kenya have just moved into a new house with the support of Greater Good Wholesale, providing space and room to expand not just their production, but their dreams. And dream, they do.

As we explored the house and walked through each room discussing how they would use it and ideas for improvement, the ideas spilled forth. 
 
"Here we could have a garden and grow Spinach"
"Here we can store our finished products"
"Here we can welcome visitors"
 
With every corner we turned the hands went up, celebrating the fruits of their labor, and the opportunity to keep working. 
 
All of this, is because of you.
 
As the years pass it can be hard to find new ways to share why shopping responsibly is important. There aren't always words that do justice to the value of a full day's work in a safe, comfortable and empowering environment. But you must know that every dollar you spend with us, every order you place, and every piece that you wear adds more space in which our artisans can develop their dreams.

These are the dreams of the mothers who make our jewelry. We celebrate them, and they celebrate their children's future. Is there gratitude enough to share what this means? Truthfully, there is not. But this holiday season, we send you our heartfelt Asante Sana with our hands raised high over our heads in celebration of you, your patience, your encouragement and your willingness to spend your money in ways that build others up. 
 
From all of us at Sasa Designs, thank you.

 

 

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Hurricane Matthew and our Artisan Partners in Haiti

Hurricane Matthew has leveled parts of Haiti, destroying villages and claiming lives in its path.

The death toll is rising throughout Haiti, but we are thankful to report that no lost lives have been reported in Matenwa, and our artisan partners are safe. There is, however, widespread damage in their community, with 30 structures uninhabitable or destroyed, and hunger due to food losses already setting in. Emergency workers are increasingly worried about the potential for spikes in cholera and the effects of massive crop devastation.
 
Help us help Haiti by shopping our hand-painted silk scarf collection and donating to GreaterGood.org's fundraising efforts for emergency relief in our artisan community.
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A FRESH NEW LOOK FOR SASA DESIGNS

 

Along with our new site, we are making a few key improvements:

A shortened name = bigger impact:
As Sasa Designs, we are now partnering with disabled, economically and geographically isolated artisans in Kenya and beyond: in Haiti, Mexico and Zambia to start. By growing our product offerings and working with expert artisans who share our commitment to quality, we can ensure the ongoing operations of our original workshop, where our core team of deaf women continue to thrive.

More jewelry, more everything: 
Our best selling brass pieces from Kenya are in the process of being introduced in Sterling Silver and Copper variations - helping us support generations of metal workers in Taxco, Mexico along with the new training of women metal smiths in Ng'ombe, Zambia. We've also got a variety of scarves, bags and clothing in the works - some posted, some rolling out in the coming weeks and seasons.
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