Can a handbag change the world?

Wilderness, Waterfalls and Wildlife
April 4, 2019
Camping 101
April 8, 2019
Text and Photograph  Annelien Robberts

On No.1 Groot Tiras Street a group of women (and two guys) work together to hand-craft stylish high-end leather bags. Conscientiously and lovingly binding together unique materials sourced locally and internationally, these dedicated artisans also bind together the Namibian community…

The whole process from measuring, cutting, stitching and gluing to the sewing and final decorating takes place at Myeisha’s shop and workshop. It’s hard to believe that most of the women employed here started with little to no experience at all. CEO Sandra Baumeister ensures that Myeisha’s artisans are trained to become masters of the craft, but more importantly masters of themselves, all the while making an impact in their communities.

Authentic, ambitious, confident, talented, magnetic, focused, relentless and full of grit. Sandra’s buzzing energy is tangible. “I do not have an off-switch,” she acknowledges – it is a weakness as well as a strength. Originally from Germany, she fell in love with the Namib Desert where the vast spaces and loud silence spoke to her soul. When she combined her business know-how and love for fashion with her determination to make a change, a project emerged… one that makes a fashion statement.

Thus Myeisha was born, where high-end leather bags are exquisitely handmade by locals and exported globally. The word Myeisha derives from Swahili and is associated with love. It is also the middle name of one of Sandra’s daughters. All of the bags are named after her three daughters, and also after her business partner’s daughter.

In the Arabic culture the name also means “woman” or “life”, which beautifully links with the passion to celebrate the life of women, to cherish and empower them.

“We are all worthy of being valued and loved. Each of us strives for this, everyone in their

own way. It is my dream that especially the women who help to create these bags with such passion and dedication will feel this love.”

Myeisha’s main branch, called Myeisha is Love, was created in 2015. It functions as the export branch, which generates funds for the local subsidiary iNAMi, as well as for a non-profit charity trust called Especially
Namibian
. The good news is that Myeisha’s profits stay in Namibia and are donated to local charity projects.

As for the daughter company, iNAMi means love in one of the Namibian San languages. “This brand is a bit more African, and somewhat funkier”, Sandra explains. It’s especially designed for the Namibian market.

The Especially Namibian Trust was founded by Sandra, Kym Kibble and Barbara Erdt with the aim to give the underprivileged a home, an education, nourishment and thereby hope to live a life of value. Myeisha and iNAMi were both established to support this dream.

Some of their current projects include the Villa Colourful Kindergarten in Katutura, as well as financing a young lady’s training as a kindergarten teacher. Myeisha’s logo is a tree – a life-giving element. “We want to return something good to the community by providing help through self-help to make this world a little bit better for the women and children of Namibia.”

Can one handbag change the world? Maybe not, but the woman who wears it can.

Visit Myeisha’s flagship store at the Hilton Hotel in the city centre.

This article was first published in the Autumn 2019 edition of Travel News Namibia.

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