Impact Stories: Collectively Created

November 12, 2019

Jenny Nuccio first traveled to Kenya in 2009 to work with a school in a village called Mtepeni. After that first visit, she returned every year. And, she says, “Every trip got progressively longer.”

In 2013, Jenny sold everything and moved to the village. “I used that money to start Imani Collective and it funded my move and the 16 Singer sewing machines we bought. We started with 16 women in May 2013. In our first class I introduced a pattern and most of the women stared at me blankly because they did not know how to read their measuring tapes. So we pushed all the machines aside and for the first couple of months we just taught numbers and letters. This is where the vision of Imani Collective truly came to fruition because it was in this moment I realized it was more than just teaching sewing and product design; it was about empowering through educating.” The first years were all about refining the team’s wares and selling them in small batches in the U.S. Through that early work, the Collective grew.

Jenny says, “In October 2016, I brought on our first U.S. staff member, Hailey, who is our VP of Product Design and in three months we rebranded and redesigned everything. We started with the original 16 women and sewing machines and today we employ over 70 artisans and staff in Kenya. As we grew, I wanted to ensure the women who had my back were truly empowered on every level, so we implemented holistic programs. Currently, we offer many programs from childcare and free daily lunches to business classes and birthday celebrations.”

Imani Collective is unique in its structure. It is truly a collective, with a marketplace for artisans to sell their goods, volunteer opportunities stateside, and even trips to work and volunteer in Kenya. “It is our nature to be collective,'' says Jenny. “We could not do what we do without customers who love and want to participate in our story. This is the main reason we offer volunteer opportunities and Imani Experience trips. We want people to experience our culture and be a part of it all.”

As ethical consumers, we all have the ability to empower others through the choices we make. Brands like Imani Collective make it even easier for us to connect with the ideals that matter most to us.

Our partnership with Imani Collective for the Woven Throw Blanket is part of our Artisan Connect program. In an effort to create sustainable, enduring change in the artisan communities we are invested in, we partner with companies who are equally committed to artisan impact and connect them with our artisan partners in Jaipur, India to collaborate on exclusive designs and products for the CAUSEBOX Community.

John is the managing editor at CAUSEBOX and a traveling writer who lives on the road with his dog, Hank.