Through her experience of spearheading the creation and building of the Dream Big Montessori School in East Africa, founder Susan Bibbings gained a firsthand understanding of the unmitigated damage, corruption and disempowerment caused by the charity model. Then during her time in the region she became aware of a remarkable collaborative fashion social enterprise using the ‘Trade Not Aid’ model. Originally begun as an environmental initiative to address the deforestation of the local rainforests, an alternative income source was created through the project and has successfully shifted 200 women away from logging, back to their artisan roots creating spectacular collaborative jewellery. The KILIMANJARO KOLLECTION is designed by students at the prestigious Istituto Europea di Design, overseen by founder and director Francesca Soldini. This innovative jewellery is meticulously hand beaded by the 200 Maasai women artisan partners – a truly unique collaborative mix of Italian design genius and rich African artisanship – jewellery that helps preserve Kilimanjaro Rainforests.
Excited to act as a bridge to North American markets, Susan founded LOTUSLAND IMPORTS in 2011 and launched this first KILIMANJARO KOLLECTION.
Using fashion as a vehicle for humanitarian and environmental change in the world, LOTUSLAND now also offers several other Collections which fit her Fair Trade and environmental mandate.
The ZULUGRASS COLLECTION – by the Leakey Foundation offers casual artisan jewellery handmade from local Zulugrass harvested after the dry season. Now in 100 gorgeous colour options, EU certified natural eco-dyes make this Collection colourfast and waterproof – perfect from yoga to swimming. Single strands cleverly multi-purpose as necklaces, bracelets, anklet and hair accessories. This Fair Trade project employs over 1,000 women artisans and uses sustainable and renewable native Zulugrass.
The OUT OF AFRICA ethical leather Collection salvages cow and goat skins 100% from the local food supply which were previously being thrown away to rot, and masterfully turns this waste into beautiful leather handbags and products. Local youth have been trained to be master leather workers, creating pride of workmanship and skilled Fair Trade employment while creating stunning leather goods.
NEW! Debuting at EcoFashion Vancouver is the latest LOTUSLAND Eco Collection – FLIP THE FLOP – Healthy Oceans Collection. Raising awareness of the critical environmental issue of Ocean Garbage, specifically the estimated annual 400,000 discarded old flip flops that wash ashore and choke African beaches, FLIP THE FLOP innovatively turns waste into remarkable art. Started by native marine biologist Dr. Julie Church, beaches are cleaned up as these garbage flip flops are collected, cleaned, melted together, then hand carved by 100 local artists into fabulous African and ocean animals.
LOTUSLAND is delighted to play a small part in the shift to a New World Economy of sustainability, responsibility, consciousness and love.