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Our Story and Commitment to Fair Trade

Mission Statement:

To work in partnership with individuals and craft focused social enterprises in South Africa to build capacity for income generation and financial security for families, and always considering wellbeing, happiness and respect for the environment. 

The Background

Yho!Yho! was established to combine my love of South Africa with the desire to source products for young children which were original, fun and provided a source of income for mothers. The criteria for choice of products were that they made me smile, I would want to buy them, and that they were made in accordance with the principles of Fair Trade. 

Key partners

In the UK: Gill Howard


I fell in love with Africa in Primary school after reading about an explorer's incredible encounter with hippos.  Twenty years, and a few travels later I married a South African and we moved to Cape Town.  As a qualified dietitian I was inspired by the craft businesses which were part of many nutrition projects in South Africa.  These helped mothers to develop skills and earn an independent income to support their families.

Back in the Scottish Borders, and with 3 children, I wanted to source original children's products from some of those tiny businesses. Yho!Yho! is a Xhosa phrase which describes, surprise and delight. A good name for what I wanted to create.

Our elephant backpacks are cheerfully and proudly unique to Yho!Yho! Our range also includes long sleeve t-shirt tops, and bibs decorated with African animal appliqué. We also stock fabulous Fairtrade certified fruit and vegetable rattles and seasonal beadwork for extra little thing gifts.

In South Africa:

Marianne, Carolissen was the original powerhouse behind the design and production of most of Yho!Yho!'s range.  Marianne learned her sewing skills in a clothing factory and then supervised work at a local craft project. She created our range of backpacks with her amazing eye for detail. Her embroidery skills have given each a personality of its own. She also designed the appliqué animals which decorate our t-shirt tops. We have always been proud of the colour range of these tops - each one a tiny bit different !YhoYh's South African supplier Marrianne

A family business: We are delighted that Marianne's daughter Tarien is now working with us on a new range of baby items and appliqué animals. She was taught sewing by her Mom. Her gorgeous baby daughter is of course our  favourite model.


Yho!Yho! Ethos: South Africa to UK

Yho!Yho! elephants are made from linen and cotton fabric woven in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Many fabrics available in South Africa are imported from the Far East. This trend has decimated a previously vibrant textile industry. Elephants are stuffed with a recycled stuffing made near Durban. This means that we support local employment at every step of backpack production.

Most of our t-shirt tops are sourced from a family run factory in Tanzania, and our appliqué animals are created from unique South African shweshwe fabric and other offcuts to minimise fabric waste. Our new line of bandana bibs also uses colourful shweshwe. 

Yho!Yho!s’ partners support women to develop their sewing skills, and everyone involved in the production of our products is paid above local minimum wage, and has good working conditions. Our packaging is recycled and recyclable.

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 WFTO include: Promoting  opportunities for disadvantaged producers, Fair wages and working practices, Accountability and Respect for the Environment. 

Yho!Yho! is a member of the British Association of Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers (BAFTS).