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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: Our inspiration

Marianna Carolissen was the original powerhouse behind the design and production of most of Yho!Yho!'s range.  Marianna 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 gave 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.  Tragically Marianna passed away in December 2019. YhoYh's South African supplier Marrianne

A family business: Tarien

We are delighted that Marianne's daughter Tarien is now working with us. She was taught sewing by her Mom and used to help with some of the appliqué work squares. Though lockdown we acquired grant funding to support Tarien to build her sewing skills working on a new range of shweshwe and soft cotton bibs. Her gorgeous young 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.

All our T-shirt tops are made from organic cotton or cotton in conversion to organic and all are traceable to origin. Production respects workers rights with everyone involved being paid above local minimum wage, with verified good working condition. Several styles made in a family run factory in Tanzania, and our appliqué animals are created from unique South African shweshwe print fabric and other offcuts to minimise fabric waste. Our new line of bandana bibs also uses colourful shweshwe print.

Our packaging is always 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. These include: Promoting  opportunities for disadvantaged producers, Capacity Building, Fair wages and working practices,  and Respect for the Environment. 

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