The face behind the brand...
Jess Luby was an English Language teacher and a teacher trainer for an adult education school in central London before setting up her ethical basket label, The Wanderer. She lives in west London with her husband and baby daughter, Olive.
It was a bold move to pack your job in when your baby, Olive, was just a few months old. What inspired you to launch ethical baskets made by crafts people in Africa?
I was searching for a Moses basket for her and saw nothing I liked on the U.K. market. I knew and loved the traditional baskets from Ghana so started researching how I could work with some weavers in the region. I had a meeting with AfriKids who work do valuable work there and we decided to co-brand. They sourced the weavers and I sent a photographer out there to document the process.
Briefly, describe how each one is designed and made?
The designs are based on the traditional Bolga baskets, native to that region. I have tweaked a few of the designs and colours to suit the identity of the brand. The grass grows abundantly in the area and also in neighbouring Burkina Faso.
Do you think it's easy to shop with ethical, fair-trade and environment in mind these days?
I don’t think it’s easy, necessarily. But I strongly believe we have a responsibility to. We have a long way to go, but we can all be more mindful of the decisions we make when spending our money. If something is cheap, it’s probably going to have compromised someone, somewhere. The time is now for ending oppression in fashion.
Since having Olive, I’ve been much more aware and try to buy organic, plastic-free and fair-trade wherever possible. Natural materials are guilt-free and second-hand is even better. Landfill scares the hell out of me, so I try to reuse and recycle as much as possible.
What have been your best-sellers so far?
Have you been surprised by the incredible reaction to the moses baskets?
To be honest, I’m not massively surprised by the huge response. I knew they would be popular as soon as I saw them. They really are masterpieces. When you see them in the flesh you appreciate the work and skill that have gone into weaving them. They are scattered around my home and make such beautiful homeware pieces. They’re just so impressive.
Finally, what's your favourite travel destination and why?
Wow that’s so hard to answer! I love travelling and seldom go back to the same place twice as there are so many places to discover. My next big trip is to visit the weavers in Ghana. I haven’t been able to make the trip yet as the region is malarial and I breastfeed Olive. We are going in October this year as by then she’ll be old enough to take the anti-malarial medication. Cant wait to get over there and also see the current projects AfriKids are working on.
Moses baskets from £145 thewandererlondon.com