Western & English Today

Summer 2018

W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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8 Western & English Today SUMMER 2018 EDITOR'S PICKS ROSE & FITZGERALD By Lindsay Whelchel PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY ROSE & FITZGERALD, COURTESY UWEZO W hen her husband, a human rights activist, began spending more and more time in East Af- rica with the Bridgeway Foundation, Court- ney Poole decided to forgo a long- distance marriage and opt instead for a shared ad- venture. In 2012 she and her husband, Laren, packed up everything they owned and moved to Kampala, Uganda, where they built a new life — and company — together over the next three years. While Laren went to work helping local communities, Courtney explored Kam - pala by motorbike taxi in search of things to furnish their new home, and she was im- pressed to find a multitude of shops filled with original works by skilled local carpen- ters, chiselers, and weavers. Impressed by the quality of their work and the abundance of beautiful natural materials accessible in the region — such as soapstone, horn, and hardwoods — Courtney began commission - ing pieces of her own. Soon, the idea for Rose & Fitzgerald was born. Combining Courtney and Laren's mid- dle names, Rose & Fitzgerald is a home- goods company that the couple launched together in 2013 in an effort to share the talents of these local artisans with the world. "We wanted to create a brand that told our love for Africa and for the cras- manship in Africa that I think goes over- looked," Courtney says. Sharing a sensibility for the contem- porary, she and Laren design every piece themselves, focusing on quality over quan- tity. e result: a boutique collection of handcraed goods that are in vogue and exotic. "ere are very few products you can purchase in the States that look like our products," Courtney says. "I just think they have this African, beautiful touch to them, but they're still made for the more modern home, so it's a really cool mix of styles." e couple has also incorporated their social consciousness into the business model. Rose & Fitzgerald employs 13 full- time craspeople at its design studio in Uganda, paying above fair wage and pro- viding full benefits, and partners with con- tracted local artisans. "at was kind of our dream all along — to provide sustainable income for artisans that are amazing at the cra but maybe were having a hard time making a living off of it," Courtney says. Customers are clearly responding to their approach. "I think it's a combination of the story behind the products," Courtney says. "Con- sumers are making choices with a lot more intelligence and care, so I think that's part of it, but I think ultimately the customers we see coming back again and again just fall in love with the product and just how high quality it is." roseandfitzgerald.com

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