I left the world of glossy magazines to join the Peace Corps when I was 27 years old. Moving from New York City, where I worked as a fashion stylist, to be a volunteer on the remote island of Madagascar didn’t stop my need to create, but it did change the way I saw the world and how I wanted to live in it.
After Peace Corps I moved to Malawi, a small landlocked country in sub-Saharan Africa. Since coming to Malawi, I’ve been able to explore my artistic side by working with local men and women to create one-of-a-kind handmade crafts. From paste-resist batiks to copper wire handbags, I’ve spent the past 13 years creating unique textiles, clothing, and accessories that combine my love of design with the resourcefulness that comes from living in Africa.
The original idea behind Zoona Nova was to sell these products internationally. But there was a big problem – shipping costs. Air freight from Malawi to the rest of the world is insanely expensive and customs duties only make things worse. Often the cost of shipping is more than the item itself. It became clear that the hope of selling overseas would never take off.
I channeled my energy into sewing myself a new wardrobe while I contemplated the future of Zoona Nova. Finally, I had that light bulb moment. For a particular group of people, creating is more rewarding than buying (if you are reading this you probably agree) and I certainly fit into that category. Instead of shipping ready-made clothing and textiles across the globe, it would be far easier – and much more interesting – to share my process of making things with other like-minded creatives. And that’s how Zoona Nova Patterns and the DIY blog was born.
My adventures hunting for materials and ideas, and the products and designs that follow, will be documented here at Zoona Nova. I hope this space inspires you to create something beautiful and unique that you will be proud to call your own.