swahili coast origins
Swahili Coast was founded by partners Tony Peele and Caroline Fisher. We moved to Tanzania in 2013 for Tony's Fulbright Fellowship in Economics.
After spending a year working with farmers in rural Tanzania with Tony's research, we decided to start a sandal company, then called Seeded Hand Sown, to promote East African women's beadwork to a larger audience. Our first breakthrough was a collection for Anthropologie. We invested the proceeds and our savings in opening an independent worker-owned co-operative.
As a founding partner, we financed the founding of the beadwork cooperative. However, we own no part of it and it is 100% worker-owned.
While this might be a 'risky' move for business, we believe in the co-op model, because Tanzania has a history of co-operative development, and because it offers independence that doesn't always come from traditional employment. Co-op member artisans choose their leaders and share 100% of the profits of the co-op.
We are guests in the co-op, and guests in East Africa. We are proud to have the opportunity to build a project in partnership with our friends and neighbors in Tanzania. The co-op continues to grow in membership and skill, and we look forward to what the coming years will bring.