Thursday, July 12, 2012


Philadelphia today is HOT! I thought being from Kenya, a country right on the equator, I had experienced heat, but boy was I mistaken. Anyway, enough about the heat. Today's blog will look at some of the products in the Soko Collection, the premier Spring/Summer 2012 Collection of the Recycled Treasures project.

The Soko Signature Kiondo Carry All (bit of a mouthful eh?) looks exactly as the name suggests. Its shape is similar to the kiondo which is a handwoven bag that is indigenous to the Kikuyu and Kamba ethnic groups of Kenya. Normally, the kiondo was woven using sisal but as our second blog post explained we crotchet plarn, which is a portmanteau for plastic yarn. This bag is designed carry all of a woman's essentials and not look bulky.

Why Signature? This refers to the finishing of the decorative flap which is embedded with colourful beads. The flap can be made out of leather, suede, fabric or rexin material. The straps as well can be made of any of these materials, or even the plarn itself.
Flaps and straps made of leather and denim. Blue and yellow crotchet in striped & eclectic patterns. Aren't these bags perfect for giving that extra oomph to your outfit?
The colours available range anything from black, green, blue, yellow, purple, red, pink, white to even silver. Our women producers are incredibly creative. It is unbelievable the patterns they come up with from simple discarded plastic bags! We classify our patterns into three categories: solid/bold, striped, and eclectic. The eclectic pattern, my favourite, basically refers to a random pattern that the producer comes up with. The bags have a zip closure as shown below.

The interior of the bags are lined with cotton fabric. There is a phone pocket, which is extremely convenient because you don't always have to be digging inside your bag for it. There is also a zipped compartment for small things and valuables.

Some of our Soko Signature Kiondo Carry All Family
For more information about these bags, visit our facebook page or our website or simply just make a comment on this post.

Charity Migwi
Tosheka blogger

Monday, July 9, 2012


As mentioned in the first blog, Tosheka Textiles has a couple of projects going on in Kenya. One of my absolute favourites is the Recycled Treasures Project, a design and recycling initiative established in 2010 by Lucy Lau-Bigham along with her business partner and American husband, Herman Bigham. The ultimate goal for this project is to design and produce a line of eco-friendly accessories for the global market while reducing environmental pollution and producing sustainable income for the producer groups that make the products.
Herman and Lucy Bigham
You're probably wondering, how and where did they get this brilliant idea? Well, you're in luck because I'm going to tell you. Before Tosheka Textiles, Mrs. Bigham was working with various women development projects. As some of you might know, it is very common in Kenya to find women organized in 'chamas', which is groups in Kiswahili. In 2010, while working with a certain women's group in Wote, Ukambani, one woman brought her a bag that she had made from recycled plastic. This got Lucy interested and she decided to do further research. She discovered that the women were collecting dirty plastic from the trash, washing it, then using it to crotchet 'kiondo' style into bags. Needless to say, this was not hygienic. The wheels in Lucy's head started turning: how could she improve this project, because it was definitely a great idea. How could they intercept the plastic bags before they made it to the trash?
Women collecting dirty plastic bags from trash piles :(
Luckily, on another unrelated conversation with the administration of Nakumatt, she found out that they were interested in setting up a recycling campaign with their consumers. From there, they carried out a promotional campaign in some Nakumatt stores, some of you might have seen them, where they gave the customers incentives to bring back their used clean bags instead of throwing them in the trash. After the success of the promotional campaign, Nakumatt in partnership with Tosheka has set up collection bins in their various stores where people can drop off their used but clean plastic bags.

Promotion & Awareness Campain at Nakumatt Stores
Some of the women crocheting the clean plastic collected from Nakumatt in to beautiful bags
These bags are then collected by the Tosheka group who distribute them among the 15 women groups that they work with. From here, the 100 women turn that trash into amazing recycled treasures. Incredible isn't it? Now you can see why I am in love with this project. Not only does it clean our environment, one plastic bag at a time, it provides employment to over 100 women and counting, and it builds the Made in Kenya brand. On our next blog I will look at the products that the Recycling Treasure project produces. Tosheka has recently just released their premier line for Spring/Summer 2012 called Soko Bags. I bet you a million stars that this collection will blow your minds! Here's a little sneak peek.

Who knew you could get such incredible and bold colours from plastic shopping bags!! And if you can't wait, you're allowed to have a look at our facebook page.

Charity Migwi

Tosheka Blogger


Tosheka Textiles is a Kenyan and USA based social entrepreneurial company that specializes in the production of green textiles and related products. Our emphasis is on production of textiles in ways that are non-toxic, ethical and sustainable. By using modern techniques, we blend traditional and contemporary techniques adn designs to produce innovative, high fashion quality and globally competitive textiles. We work towards TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE RETURNS: FINANCIAL, SOCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL. We currently have two projects going on in Kenya: Creating Recycled Treasures from recycled plastic bags and growing organic cotton using neem fertilizer in Wote, Ukambani from which we produce hand-spun cotton and subsequent value added products.

So what will this blog be about? It will be anything from an environmental to fashion blog, entrepreneurial to travelling blog and last but not least, a farming blog. By now you must be thinking HUH? Let me explain. 

  • Well, our intention is to take you through this crazy ride where we will talk about our awesome bags (Recycled Treasures) made from recycled plastic (you're probably imagining a not-so-nice looking bag, but you will be pleasantly surprised). We will tell you the story of why and how we started, how these bags are made, who makes them, where they are made and of course where to get and buy them. Some of our clients will blog about their Recycled Treasures, where they wore them and how they styled them, hence a fashion blog. 
  • Where our Recycled Treasures go, we go, hence a travel blog.
  • We will talk about our successes, hurdles and battles of being an entrepreneur, hence an entrepreneurial blog. 
  • We cannot showcase our Recycled Treasures without talking about the environment, the existence or non-existence of waste management systems in Kenya and other great Kenyans who are improving our environs through business, hence an environmental blog. 
  • Remember the organic cotton I talked about earlier? Well we have conducted a pilot cotton growing project using neem fertilizer & pesticides in Wote. The results were INCREDIBLE. We will feature our farmers who will talk about their experiences, the dos & don'ts of farming, hence an agricultural blog. 
Now that that's settled, we invite  you to join us on this journey of our dreams, life, laughs, joys, woes and GOOD OLD HAVING FUN! 

Welcome to all that is TOSHEKA!

Charity Migwi
Tosheka Blogger