How did the Nakate Project get started? What is the meaning behind the name?In 2010, we met a 7-year-old named Cossy Nakate. Just recently confirmed to be HIV positive, orphaned and living in a small Ugandan village called Kakooge, Cossy impacted us in a way we couldn’t stop thinking about – because Cossy was a fighter.When her mother died of AIDS, she left Cossy alone with a father who cared for her until his own struggle with AIDS made him too weak to do so. Afterward, she was shuffled to and from different relatives, where she was often mistreated and neglected. When her father passed away, she landed with her aunt – a prostitute, who often left her alone at night with her cousins and brothers.But it wasn’t Cossy’s sad story that caught us – it was her spirit. She has a twinkle in her eye, a quickness to her step – and she’s known for telling the boys how it is. She’s loving, she’s expressive – and she laughs more than your average kid.We knew we wanted some of what Cossy has in our lives. We could tell she was going to be the kind of woman we wanted to do business with, to be friends with – to know as she grew older.As we delved further into her village, we realized there were dozens of women that had been little girls like Cossy. And, here they were, laughing, full of life, of expression and of inner power, and maintaining the kind of vision and strength we knew we wanted to do business with, and be around, as we grow older.So, we brought home a sack of necklaces from these women we wanted to partner with, and we started the Nakate Project. That was our piece of Africa, our way of beginning to carry Nakate with us into our everyday lives – so we wouldn’t forget her, or the way she had shown us to carry life and power inside of us, regardless of our circumstance.When you buy a piece of jewelry from Nakate, you’re taking a small piece of Africa with you and, with it, you’re celebrating the power, the life and the laughter of the kind of women we know Cossy will grow up to be. What is the overall mission of the Nakate Project?The Nakate Project exists to empower women in underdeveloped or remote areas of the globe by providing a platform for their art in the high fashion and design community. Nakate seeks to bring attention to cultural, religious and economic issues surrounding individual women through bringing their designs, and their stories with them, to the industry’s forefront.
I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with the Nakate project when I co-hosted the "Curls Night Out" event, associated with the fab "Style Bloggers of Color" weekend that Mattieologie planned! When I learned more about the mission behind the Nakate Project, I knew I had to share their story with the rest of you all.
THE NAKATE PROJECT
What types of services/products do you offer?We offer Made-in-Africa shoes, accessories and bags. At Nakate we know the fashion world is always changing, and we believe we are bringing the market new access to developing talent that can grow and change along with it. Our items are green, and often created from either waste, or natural resources, such as a swamp grass. Our artisans are adding value to their products by taking something salvaged and commonly thought to be useless and making it into something beautiful and marketable. We feel we are adding value to the market by providing it access to a previously untapped combination of artistry and materials, while also creating sustainability in the market as well as in the community. What do you find most rewarding since starting this venture?I have found it most rewarding to watch women change their own lives - to watch their self image change, their livelihood change and their view of the world change with it.
Here's how you can keep in touch with the Nakate Project