I was out of regular work for about a year juggling family and my business, and in July 2019 I started working part-time for a global brand and retailer. This helped take some pressure off my business as I strongly felt I needed to recalibrate.
After diving into research for 6 months, I discovered that the country I am from, Zimbabwe, was producing a quality of cotton that ranked 3rd on the worlds marketplace as recent as 2018. That coupled with the history of its pre-colonial international trading centre, now known as The Great Zimbabwe Ruins, dating as far back as the 11th Century...a direction I was at peace with began to emerge.
Over the Christmas period I shared this with my family, and as I spoke to my mum, she began telling me more about my grandmother who was quite the entrepreneur. Someone whom I believed had a big garden, actually cultivated a 7 acre farm 2hrs west of Harare. Rearing livestock, growing rice, maize, pumpkins, lemons, peanuts and cotton . All this has been dormant since she passed away in 2002, you can imagine how amazed I was that this was still in the family (and knowing all that I do and desire, my mum hadn't told me sooner!).
This has obviously enthused and inspired me more, to the point where I'm at now is -
“The pursuit is to share my ancestral legacies into contemporary ways. Saint and Birchley will create souvenirs from stories of the Mashonaland and other Bantu provinces. With cotton grown and other produce grown on the land my grandmother once farmed. Ensuring growth traceability, from seed-to-sew"
I now see this as 2 opportunities. A documentary, (akin to the projects I was a part of with Destination Canada) to shine a light on different narratives of Zimbabwe through tourism. And the second, a scalable lifestyle brand. I’ve always felt that this brand was never for me, but that I was more of a conduit. And now to align with something my grandma started all those years go feels pretty amazing. So, that’s it. Not quite sure what the first steps will be considering the current climate but, I guess this is one of them. Thanks to her…. LENA