It’s been a little while since I last posted as I’ve been traveling overseas. My travels put me in touch with how I got started in this creative endeavor as well as serve as constant inspiration.
If you happen to go to the Grand Hotel in Niamey, Niger, you’ll be attracted to the assortment of crafts and handmade items that Mme. Rose, as Rosaline Zocli is affectionately called, has in her hotel shop. From African fabric made by local artisans as well as those from her native home of Benin, Mme. Rose has an array of local and regional crafts to fit the tastes of those searching for the classical to the eclectic.
Some of my favorites include leather-covered boxes as well as jewelry and notions made from limestone, a rock found near the desert in Niger. Leather boxes, from the small to trunk-sized, are a specialty of Toureg artisans. Below are some of my favorites:[flagallery gid=2 name=Gallery]
Mme. Rose told me that she has “commerce in her blood” and has always been an entrepreneur. One of her daughters used to work the boutique with her but died a few years ago after a long battle with an illness. Her other children haven’t been as interested in the boutique and Rose’s wish is that they might take up her legacy and allow the boutique to provide them with income-generating opportunities.
After returning exhausted from a long day’s work, I stop by Mme Rose’s boutique to say “bonsoir” and ask how her day went. After salutations, we update one another on the highlights of our day. She tells me about how slow business has been since the coup in Mali and how security concerns have slowed tourism in Niger. Yes, times are rough; business is slow. Mme. Rose, like countless others, remain hopeful that things will improve. After all, without hope what is there?