As long-time fans of Indego Africa, we thought it only fitting to pass the love along to you! If you’re just now hearing about this globally impactful brand, who better to give you the full low-down than Indego Africa’s own creative director, Deirdre King?
Today, we’re talking with Deirdre about her job (a position she’s held for more than seven years!) and her role as mother, too. Fellow working moms: listen up and be prepared to feel an extra special kinship to Deirdre as she shares her story and daily triumphs/struggles below!
You’re a busy working mama! Can you tell us a little bit about your role with Indego Africa?
I’ve been the creative director at Indego Africa for the past 7-plus years. Generally speaking, this means I design all of our products, run our brand partnerships, manage production in Rwanda and Ghana and oversee our sales and branding efforts. Most of my time is focused on products and photoshoots—I love being in the thick of the creative work.
With regard to the day to day, it sounds like a big job, but our teams in New York City and Africa are so amazing that much of what I do is a sort of “signing off” on really great work by my colleagues and the artisans we work with in Rwanda and Ghana! Those moments make me really proud to have helped build such a strong team and organization.
I love reading mama profiles and truly see each one as personal advice columns. I think, as mothers, we all can learn so much from each other.
With all the amazing artisans around the world, what made you decide to focus on Rwanda and Ghana?
Indego started in Rwanda back in 2007 (yes, we turn 10 this year!). Our founders actually chose Rwanda after they developed our business model. They looked at a range of factors including ease of doing business, corruption, legal systems, artisan skillsets and, most importantly, the social impact needs of our artisan communities. When we decided to expand into a new country in 2015, we used these same factors in choosing to work in Ghana! Hopefully soon, there will be more countries to add to this list!
What’s your favorite piece in the Indego Africa collection?
I love our pink swirl plateau. It was the first product I had a design role in and it’s still one of our best-sellers. I think it’s really iconic for our brand. Lately, the embroidered surf bear is sort of my dream. It’s well-made, whimsical and totally fits our brand. I think it’s the perfect design-happy and kid-friendly item for any home. We have it hanging in our playroom and it makes me smile every time I see it.
How has working with women in these other countries shaped you as a mother?
Being able to support other women like me—creative, working moms—but who are on the other side of the world is an incredible feeling. The artisans we work with in Rwanda and Ghana are a huge source of both inspiration and admiration for me. These ladies are such hard workers and so dedicated to their own success and that of their families and communities. The selflessness that they’ve shown throughout the past six years that I’ve been with Indego has really resonated with me. They’ve created businesses, taken advantage of education opportunities and honed and improved their technical skills, all while supporting their families and fostering a true sense of optimism and hope within their communities. I have learned so much from them and really treasure being able to be part of their stories.
Tell us about a few of the moms who inspire you!
All of them! I am so inspired to hear about fellow mom experiences in childrearing, of emotional highs and lows and the wonderfully crazy journey of motherhood. I love reading mama profiles and truly see each one as personal advice columns. I think, as mothers, we all can learn so much from each other. It’s up to us to raise the next generation, and we should support each other on the same path toward raising kind, thoughtful, joyful children!
Since becoming a mom, my appreciation of so many of the women in my life has increased. I am endlessly inspired by my mom. She raised myself and my three sisters with so much love, patience and selflessness—it is actually so overwhelming to me when I reflect on it. Growing up, you don’t realize the sacrifices parents make out of love and it really puts everything into perspective.
Professionally, our CEO, Karen Yelick, is one of the most supportive bosses and has taught me so much about leadership, being a working mom and being a woman in business. It’s this support that encourages me to keep up with the juggle and learn how to work smarter and more efficiently.
White is the perfect backdrop to the endless toys and bright smiling faces, and provides me with the crisp and calming environment a busy mom needs at home.
What do you love to do most with your kids these days?
My daughter is almost three and my son just turned one and started walking. As you can imagine, we are in a bit of an active (read: crazy) run-around stage. We live a mile from the beach, so we’ve gotten in the habit of riding bikes there in the evenings before bed and letting them run around. I love seeing them exploring the outdoors, appreciating where they live and turning into little beach bums (while also finding ways to release their endless energy). It’s a great way to end our crazy days and always gives me that magical “pinch me” feeling.
Give us some background on your Ann B. Zeis Scholarship Fund.
The Ann B. Zeis Scholarship Fund was established by Marta and Jeff Zeis to help honor the memory of their daughter, Ann Bernadette Zeis, who served as chair of Indego Africa’s Regional Board in San Francisco. As chair, Ann worked tirelessly to raise awareness of Indego Africa’s mission and impact. The Scholarship Fund helps provide women artisans in Rwanda with free advanced business education at Indego Africa’s Leadership Academy. This fund is very close to our hearts—we are really thankful for the generosity of the Zeis Family and to Ann for all of her support and hard work.
Wall Swan // Senufo Stool // Purple Flower Plateau Basket // Whimsy the Flamingos Framed Embroidery // Birdhouse (similar) // Sleepy Bunnies // Embroidered Surf Bear // Cloud Chair // Pink Bassinet // Wooly the Sheep
How do you hope to empower and engage your Indego Africa customers?
There is certainly a growing global movement toward consumer goods that support craft and economic opportunities, and we can see that our customers are already so “tuned in.” We think consumers are looking for more from the brands they support—they want to know the “who, what, where and why” they should be spending their hard-earned dollars on any given product. We are happy to be able to help them feel good about shopping by offering products that have a known value—a beautiful, handmade product that also supports our mission of education and empowerment.
It’s up to us to raise the next generation, and we should support each other on the same path toward raising kind, thoughtful, joyful children!
What’s one design rule you love to break at home?
No white furniture/décor/walls/bedding with little kids? I’ve now gone straight into the deep end on this one, and might live to regret it one day, but for now I stand by it. As long as you buy washable and wipeable pieces, white is the perfect backdrop to the endless toys and bright smiling faces, and provides me with the crisp and calming environment a busy mom needs at home.
What has been the best part about being a mom so far?
In a moment, giving birth was the most magical experience. I have never in my life felt such a rush of joy and emotion. I would do that a million more times if I could (even with the actually indescribable pain of labor!). Day to day, it’s the little things. I love seeing their personalities develop and see how proud they are of themselves when they learn new things. I love the hugs and kisses and seeing their arms outstretched for me. I could go on and on!