Radical Respect

“Your prices are outrageous!” 

Since starting Expedition Subsahara almost three years ago, I see some iteration of this remark on social media on a semi-frequent basis. It has always rubbed me the wrong way. 

Over the years, I have come to realize that people have less respect for artisan-made goods than those branded as “luxury,” which are often made cheaply in China. We put so much work into the design and creation not just of our products, but our entire brand. We don’t sell baskets and accessories — we authentically share our culture with you. Our goal and reason for being is to share and normalize African cultures and do it with radical respect through thoughtful cultural storytelling. 

We want to share our story with the world in a way that not only gives back through the creation and ongoing support of a STEAM school for girls in Senegal but also gives the world a voice that has been muted for too long. Expedition Subsahara is a love letter about our culture to the rest of the world. 

For far too long, African stories have been told by non-Africans. Even if the narrator is well-intentioned, their narrative is just their version of our story. It’s problematic when stories are not told from the first-person perspective. Unfortunately for the continent of Africa, the story told by outsiders is one of poverty, shame, and neglect. The story is that Africans are “have nots” who are at the mercy of “haves.” 

I’m proud that our space is a place in which we can respectfully share an authentic African story. It’s a story of love, craftsmanship, luxury, hard work, understanding, and persistence. While there are some painful chapters, they do not define our story. We define our story.  

Each piece takes an immense amount of craftsmanship and heritage. So, when you take into account that our hampers take anywhere from 25 to 40 hours to create based on the size and complexity, that our weaving skills have been passed down for generations and that they are infused with culture and love, $240 for our largest hamper is actually underpriced. Do you agree?