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About us

In the UK: Gill Howard

I first fell in love with Africa aged about 10 after learning about one Scottish explorer's encounter with hippos. Quite a long time later I went on to marry a South African and we moved to Cape Town.

As a dietitian looking for work within a nutrition project, I was inspired by the craft businesses which run alongside many of these. In this way mothers are able 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! 

Gill in South Africa with Duncan and Connell

 In South Africa:

Marianne, Carolissen is the powerhouse behind the design and production of the Yho!Yho! designs. Marianne 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 no formal design training but 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! 

YhoYh's South African supplier Marrianne

Yho!Yho! Ethos: South Africa to UK

Yho!Yho! elephants are  genuinely South African. Uniquely, the fabric is made in South Africa from flax, which is processed into linen yarn and 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. The principles are described in full on the WFTO site. Yho!Yho! is a member of the British Association of Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers (BAFTS).