A lifestyle brand based in Tanzania, Nyumbani Design brings a collection of hard-carved jewelry to Lydali. Each boldly minimal piece is crafted from locally-sourced wood by artisans through the country. If that sounds too good to be true, read on: Nyumbani Design also partners with Trees for the Future, an environmental organization that plants a new tree in Tanzania for every piece of jewelry sold. We spoke with founder Kerry Glanfield to get the skinny on this design company's past, present, and future.
Tell us about Nyumbani Design’s progress since Lydali last spoke with you, back in March 2013.
As a Tanzanian-based brand, it was important for us to build our recognition for modern design within our local market place. We have garnered a resident following by working with other like-minded designers encouraging locally driven growth within Tanzania’s design sector.
Over the last year, it has also been exciting to see sales increase within the US market. Lydali was our first American stockist in 2013 and went onto support the label’s dedication to sustainable design by partnering with TOMS one for one marketplace. Like the TOMS one for one model, we have been proud to work with Trees for the Future over the last two years, an environmental project that has assisted us in the plantation of over 4000 multi-purpose trees in Tanzania for every jewellery piece sold.
What does your design process look like?
I gather inspirational images mostly of architectural shapes, formations and colour that are then translated into product design through sketches and lines. My wooden artisans will then carve and sculpt each design following my directions. For each collection I try to incorporate a new indigenous wood to the range to add a new texture or colour. For AW14/15 mustard yellow from the Jackfruit tree was introduced as an accent colour, a colour known to activate the memory, encourage communication and enhance vision. For SS15, I have designed a monochrome collection with clean modern lines in optic black with cappuccino tan hues and creamy whites to create a fusion of bold simplicity.
You moved to Tanzania in 2010. How do you see the country in terms of development? Have you experienced any significant changes?
In 2012, Dar es Salaam was considered as Africa’s next megacity. This bustling modern metropolis along the Swahili coastline is rapidly being developed in terms of city skyscrapers, rental property and restaurants due to a thriving economy. The city’s expansion has provided resident designers with more opportunities to source locally and advance in insightful architectural structures and product design.
What are the challenges of selling globally while living in Tanzania?
International travel can be expensive, so sales and marketing trips are limited. As the company is still young, I am involved in every aspect of the business that can prove difficult to facilitate when I am away.
Do you have any advice for someone dreaming about starting their own project, but can’t take the plunge yet?
Last December I read Blake Mycoskie – founder of TOMS – book “Start Something that Matters”. I believe this to be an inspirational and motivational tool for dreamers with entrepreneurial spirit who want to “explore, dream, discover”.