Each design is hand-painted using fabric paints that are specially mixed. One delicious-sounding colour chalked up on a blackboard for mixing on the day we visited was ‘chocolate blue’. Colour palettes range from bright greens and reds to more muted blues, green and mauves. My favourites were the muted yellows complemented by black and khaki.
The final stage is a room humming with sewing machines, where men and women use the fabric others have created to make finished articles.
The factory was started in 1991 by Gillie Lightfoot, who markets the fabric and manufactured items in some 20 countries around the world. ‘As the business grew so did the workforce and I was able to start handing over some of the drawing and painting to a select few,’ she says. ‘Moses Musa, now the workshop manager, and I have worked side by side from the beginning. With little or no formal education but for his years of experience, Moses now leads our workforce.’
Need to know
- You can do a workshop tour from March to December (dry season), except for Saturday afternoons and Sundays.
- The shop next to the workshop is open from 7:30 to 16:30 seven days a week (it's only closed on Christmas day).
- For more information, see www.tribaltextiles.co.zm or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find a supplier in your country or ask how to become an international stockist yourself.
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