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Dsenyo Blog

  • Trip Report: Shopping at the Fabric Market in Lilongwe
  • Marissa Saints
  • African TextilesMalawiSocial Entrepreneurship

Trip Report: Shopping at the Fabric Market in Lilongwe

Marissa spent three weeks in Malawi this March, 2011 working with Dsenyo's producer groups on new designs.  She is posting a series of "Trip Reports" here on her blog to give you an inside look at her travels.

I love color.  I mean, I really LOVE color!  So much so that one of my favorite books is "Color: A Natural History of the Palette" by Victoria Finlay, that almost every wall in our house is painted a different hue and that I am absolutely in love with the wild, lively, delicious combinations of color and design found in African textiles.  For these reasons, doing my shopping for Dsenyo at the main, open-air fabric market in Lilongwe, Malawi is a favorite passtime. 

I spent a full day (6+ hours) at the market going from vendor to vendor to see what was available.  I made sure to buy from each vendor (over 40 different women) since it's extremely important cuturally to spread the wealth and not leave anyone out. 

There was me and my little notebook, scribbling down each lady's name, which colors I liked and how many meters she had available.  After surveying the entire market I was ready to buy! 

So many of the ladies were overwhelmingly grateful for the business I gave them that day.  Angela Kachali nearly brought tears to my eyes when she gave me a huge hug and explained through my translator that she hadn't had a single sale yet this month and was starting to get really worried about how she would provide for her children.  A day at the market can generate anywhere from $20 - $100 in sales for these ladies.  Dsenyo was able to make this a remarkable day for them doubling or trippling those numbers.

In the end, we walked away with enough chitenje for our new designs ready to place our largest orders to date.  Producers get ready....we're going to have fun with these! 

Watch our short video of Tamara and I being silly and just having fun at the market!

Watch a slideshow of photos from the market:


  • Marissa Saints
  • African TextilesMalawiSocial Entrepreneurship