I first fell in love with Africa aged about 10 after learning about one Scottish explorer's encounter with hippos. 20 years later I married a South African and we moved to Cape Town.
As a dietitian I was inspired by the craft businesses which run alongside many nutrition projects. These help mothers to develop skills and earn an independent income to support their families.
Back in the Scottish Borders, and with young children, I wanted to source practical children's products that were beautiful and useful from some of those tiny businesses in South Africa. Yho! Yho! is a Xhosa phrase which describes, surprise and delight. A good name for what I wanted to do.
It has been a long road but we now have a range of gorgeous backpacks which are 100% South African, fairy traded and unique to Yho!Yho!
In South Africa:
Marianne, Carolissen is the powerhouse behind the design and production of most of Yho!Yho!'s range. She lives near the famous Cape Winelands. But it is not an affluent area, and unemployment is high. Marianne learned her sewing skills in a clothing factory and then supervised work at a local craft project. She has a wonderful eye for the colour and character of African animals. She now works with a small local team, co-ordinating production of all things Yho!Yho!
Yho!Yho! Ethos: South Africa to UK
Yho!Yho! elephants are genuinely South African. Uniquely, the fabric is woven into cloth in traditional mills within South Africa. Most fabrics available in South Africa are now imported from the Far East. This trend has decimated the previously vibrant textile industry. Doing things the Yho!Yho! way means that production of each elephant supports employment not only of Marianne and her team, but also jobs within small scale textile manufacturing in South Africa.
As a Fair Trade business Yho!Yho! is committed to fair and transparent trading practices. We adhere strictly to the 10 principles of Fair Trade advocated by the World Fair Trade Forum. These promote: Opportunities for disadvantaged producers, Capacity Building, Payment of fair wages, Fair working practices, Accountability and Respect for the Environment. Yho!Yho! is a member of the British Association of Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers (BAFTS).