“Her Hands was born from my dream to create a ‘global village’ – one where our customers can buy beautiful products that support mothers from a vulnerable population so they can provide for their children.” – Sarrè Guille.
Here at Three Balls Red, we are huge supporters of quality craftmanship and meaningful design as well as women in business. So, we thought International Women’s Day 2023, was the perfect opportunity to put the spotlight on one of our brands, Her Hands. The brainchild of Sarrè Guille, Her Hands pendants are all one-of-a-kind, dyed using natural dyes from roots and plants and handwoven by female weavers in a remote part of South East Kenya. We sat down with Sarrè to find out more about this very special brand, why she left her corporate career to invest in women in developing countries and the power our purchasing decisions has on people and the planet.
Can you tell us a little about the beginnings of this very special business?
Her Hands was born from my dream to create a ‘global village’ – one where our customers can buy beautiful products that support mothers from a vulnerable population to provide for their children.
And it has perhaps been my silver lining out of the pandemic. Ultimately, it was the lockdown, and the forced focus on ‘the things that matter’, that was the push that I needed to leave my 20-year corporate career and make it happen.
Each pendant is a one-of-a-kind, which we love! Can you tell us a little bit about the makers and the process?
Our weavers live in a very remote part of South East Kenya, and they meet weekly to share materials and skills, which have been handed down over generations.
But they actually tell us the most important thing to them are the stories and laughs that they share when they come together. I visited in November and it really is the most beautiful community. Most weaving groups in the region go by the name of the area they are based in and this group call themselves 'Mapatano' which means 'togetherness' in Swahili. It just didn’t matter that we didn’t speak the same language – we sang and danced and laughed; I didn’t want the time to end! I left with such a deep respect, and a commitment to grow the impact we can have for these women.
In terms of the process, each pendant truly is a labour of love from beginning to end – from stripping the sisal, to dyeing it using natural dyes from roots and plants, to weaving over 110 knots per square inch.
Each shade takes up to seven days to weave and is one-of-a-kind, respecting the creative direction of the weaver. You really can feel the story and soul in each piece.
How many women does Her Hands employ as makers and can you share how much of a difference the company has made to these women’s lives so far?
The Mapatano group, who we predominantly work with, now has about 35 weavers, who weave around their other family responsibilities. We are also in the early stages of working with another weaving group. It takes time to find the right skills and fit for our pendants.
In terms of impact, I started on this path based on the research. I was blown away by all of the work around the impact of investing in women in developing countries, and the way it literally transforms communities. And I knew that I wanted to be part of the trade, rather than aid solution.
It has really been brought to life for me watching the way the weavers smile as they talk about having the opportunity to send their children to school that they otherwise wouldn’t have had.
Across the globe, people have become more aware of making meaningful purchases and placing more value on quality and craftsmanship rather than opting for mass produced and cookie cutter products in their homes. Would you agree with this and why do you think this is so?
Absolutely agree! I think we are moving through an exciting broader awareness of the huge impact that our purchasing decisions as consumers have on people and the planet. What was once a niche is now slowly becoming the norm. And with this has come a beautiful appreciation for handmade. The emails and messages that we receive from our customers almost always is on the quality, and how much it means to them to be supporting the communities that we do.It’s pretty special.
Why did you want to work with Three Balls Red?
Initially, I fell in love with Three Balls Red’s love of the unique!It’s just so refreshing to see the individuality that comes through in their range and their projects .It is also important to me to partner with businesses who share the same values, as well as an appreciation for handmade.
What are you most proud of?
Ultimately, it’s our product. Obviously, we can only have the impact that we want to if our customers love everything about our pendants. It has been a fine, but important, balance to respect the traditional craft of the weavers, while also developing a product that meets our market’s needs and expectations around quality.
It took us about two years to bring these pendants to market, with a lot of tears along the way! I received an email the other day from a customer who had just installed her pendants, and she told me how much she loved them and said that everyone who has seen them so far has taken our details down. That made me feel proud.
What is next for Her Hands?
We’re getting very close to releasing an extra-large size in our Woven Pendant, which we get so many requests for. We are very excited to finally release that! We also have some new products from different artisan groups currently in the sampling phase – so hopefully some other beautiful new pieces to share soon.