Bea Bond is the first ethical and slow-fashion children’s brand handcrafted in Botswana. Time to find out more about Bea Bond.
Please Introduce us to your brand.
Inspired by Botswana, Bea Bond is the first ethical and slow-fashion children’s brand that is handcrafted in Botswana. Bea Bond partners with Batswana artisans and craftsmen to create beautiful clothes, while creating local opportunity and sustainable growth.
Bea Bond’s vibrant collection is designed for children from 6 months through to 8 years, made for kids to run wild in. The collection is made with cotton Shweshwe, nicknamed the denim of southern Africa. The collection is a fusion of traditional cuts and vibrant African prints. The collection includes rompers, swing dresses and shorts.
What Inspired you to start your brand?
Two big factors inspired me to start my brand; having children and simultaneously moving to Africa (five years ago). When I arrived in Botswana I couldn’t find any locally-made cotton clothes. I discovered a beautiful fabric called Shweshwe, traditionally worn by Batswana for official occasions and ceremonies and I started sewing outfits for my children. Friends asked me about the vintage-inspired designs and African prints and that was the starting point for Bea Bond. But today we are much more than this.
What sparked your interest in fashion?
My mother made our baby clothes, they were like mini works of art filled with love. She showed me how to use a needle and thread and I learnt how to use a sewing machine at school at about nine years old and I loved understanding how to make things. I didn’t use this skill for years and it is through Bea Bond I have found the joy of producing beautiful garments in collaboration with others, the process is what is interesting to me.
What does your average day look like?
I am not a morning person and being a mum to two young children the mornings are always chaos, but I swear by a green juice to wake me up. I moved to Belgium only two months ago my days start at 6.30 (a whole hour later than Botswana) but like before no two days are exactly the same. I walk my dog every morning and go to Pilates twice a week and I love it! Some days I spend at my computer replying to emails or speaking to our artisans in Botswana about our projects for Bea Bond. The afternoons I spend with my kids, I collect them from school and then its homework and dinner. We always sit together for dinner as a family. I tend to have lightbulb moments late at night and have to discuss them with my husband, it drives him crazy but he is very supportive.
At what age did you first notice art around you?
I first remember visiting London aged five and was in awe of the museums and architecture. I chose History of Art at school and had a brilliant enthusiastic teacher, I have always been fascinated by understanding the deeper meaning and the context in which pieces are created, each one with a different story. I loved our school trips to museums in London and Paris. I then went on to achieve a BA History of Art and Architecture. I work with a number of local artists in Botswana, both craftsmanship and local artistry plays in important role in the development of the brand.
What sort of clothes and or accessories did you enjoy wearing as a child and what did you hate wearing?
I am the youngest of three, with two older brothers to look up to I was definitely a tomboy, constantly climbing trees, making dens and mud cakes. I wore dresses up to the age of nine. My favorite shoes I remember were a pair of red shoes with a ribbon fastening. My second favorite shoes were my roller skates. I didn’t like wearing the scratchy grey wool skirt which was part of my school uniform.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
There are obvious challenges with setting up a business in Botswana, and logistically in working with local artisans spread across a country the size of France. But having returned to Europe I foresee the biggest challenge is yet to come. How will I get people in Europe to connect in a meaningful way to all that is Botswana and Bea Bond. The sheer distance between Botswana and Europe is phenomenal in itself but how to make people relate and understand the Motswana heritage in a way that respectfully honors who they are.
What’s in your handbag?
I have the essentials wallet, I phone, spare hair elastics, Estee Lauder 8 hour lipbalm, sunglasses and I always have some emergency rations for those sticky moments when the kids are hungry and have to eat and I just bought a re-usable copper straw, which I need to put into my bag.
What’s your unique selling point?
Part of establishing Bea Bond is about using it as a platform to challenge a number of pre-conceived ideas around sustainability, consumerism, children’s fashion and specifically Africa. Most larger more established children clothes brands are following the same ‘receipe’ in terms of fast fashion where they release several collections in a year. I didn’t want the whole seasonal machine and I wanted to help change consumer consciousness to a less is more approach. Bea Bond produces a limited production each year of high quality seasonless styles, of items that will never go out of style. But is more than this, it’s about showcasing the essence of Botswana and Africa in a way that stays true to the people that handmake the clothes, there heritage and their dreams. We want to tell a story which is as personal to me as the all the Motswana we work with.
What advice would you give your pre-baby self, that you now know?
I would like to tell my pre-baby self to slow down, to get out into nature more and listen to my inner voice the one which tells me when I need a break. I would also say don’t worry you got this! I was very consumed with work pre-baby that I missed out on a lot of the good stuff that life is really about and this made me worried about connecting to and creating a new life as well as caring for a new little baby. Living in Botswana for five years allowed me to re-focus on what is important and soul fulfilling. Spending time with my family, exploring wildlife in Africa, and slowing down are the three most important things I ever did. These 3 things allowed me to be stronger and focus on what I care about.
Are you superstitious or do you have any rules you live by?
I am not superstitious. I live by a few simple rules I aim to listen and be kind and this extends beyond my family and friends. I believe we need to look after the world around us by being kind to the earth, the animals and where ever possible tread lightly. By listening I am able to identify where I can best make a difference. We can’t expect other people to make the change in the world that we want to see, it starts with ourselves. This is also why Bea Bond was born, from an idea that we ourselves can be the positive change we are all seeking for today.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your SS19 collection?
I created the collection keeping in mind that I wanted to bridge both European and African culture, hence the merging of classic cuts with African prints. Clothes which can be worn in any part of the world, it’s a fusion while channeling the beauty but also the rawness you can experience when you spend time in Africa both in nature itself but also when you get immersed in the cities and the urban areas. The colours reflect the primary colours which you can discover all around you in Botswana, from the sun and the sky, the colours of urban buildings and the stunning flora and fauna.
What can we expect next from the brand?
The idea of Bea Bond has evolved steadily over the last couple of years. Today we are focused on children’s wear but the focus will be to build a much more holistic brand, expanding the world of Bea Bond. We are currently developing new products within the children’s universe bringing stories to life and weaving together both the heritage and skills of craftsmen and women across Botswana.
The first two exciting projects we just launched are the opening of our Bea Bond online shop (May 2019) and we just finished our first pop up event Afro Hair & Beauty show www.afrohairshow.com Islington that took place on 26,27 May 2019.
Later this year we will also announce the partnership with a charity in the Okavango Delta which focusses on the co-existence of people and elephants, a cause which is incredible important to me personally and whose success will be imperative if we want to ensure that the elephant population in Botswana and all neighbouring countries remain protected for generations to come.
How is your work received internationally?
“so much love and so much respect for the local community on this one project makes it very special” Agnes Cazin – Founder of Haiti73
If one of our readers is in your city, which is, for 24 hours. What things would you recommend they do?
Gaborone the capital of Botswana has been home for the last 5 years and here are my top tips for 24 hours in the peaceful city filled with sunshine:
Day 1: Start the day with a good breakfast or brunch at Daily Grind the café is the perfect spot for people watching and has a great vibe. Wander over the street to visit the temporary exhibition at the museum giving a glimpse into Botswana’s history since independence in 1966 and before. As temperatures rise at midday visit Sanitas Garden Centre “the green jewel of Gaborone” they have a wonderfully relaxing family friendly garden café. Sit in the shade of the trees listening to the birds chatter don’t forget to order the handmade lemonade, you might catch a glimpse of the resident artist Ann Gollifer (www.anngollifer.org) . After lunch visit Oodi weavers, a collective who dye their own wool and weave on traditional looms and pick up a souvenir. Walk around the National Botanical Garden, located in the Village in the late afternoon, watch the rock hyrax play between the indigenous plants, and see the Old Gaberones Hotel built in 1890 and used as a resting post by the British administration. End the day with a visit to Mokolodi Nature Reserve for dinner and star gazing, you might also see impalas and other antelope coming to drink from the waterhole.
Day 2: Start the day early and climb Kgale hill to watch the sunrise, watch out for baboons as you climb, you will have a wonderful view of the city and landscape from the 10,000 steps up to the top stay then head to the Bahurutshe Cultural Village to see traditional round houses and learn about the Setswana traditions and culture, sample the local foods of seswa and pap.
Then visit the fabulous Mabeo studio to see the internationally acclaimed works of designer Peter Mabeo will need to pre-arrange a visit as they are not open to the public (www.mabeofurniture.com) Check out Timba Trading wholesalers in Africa Mall to see stacks of local African print fabric; its where all the local trade happens and where women come to buy a few meters at a time for dresses to be made for special occasions, expect it to by busy on payday! Watch the sun set over the city with sundowners at Room 52, the highest skyscraper in the capital and then move on to Basilico for dinner, the best tables are outside.