Knitting New Connections in Zimbabwe
June is going to be a hugely exciting month for me personally and for Mixter Maxter, as we head out to Zimbabwe to work with knitwear company GoGo Olive.
I have had a real passion for GoGo Olive since they began. Knowing founder Julie Hagan from Orkney, I wanted to stock the products in my retail space in Kirkwall and have grown to love the story and ethos of GoGo Olive as much as the products themselves.
And what a story it is. GoGo Olive was set up in 2008 as a response to the huge unemployment problem in Zimbabwe – currently at 97% - at a time when conditions in the country were particularly difficult. As well as creating employment for local women, the aim is to give them hope as they have the opportunity to use their craft skills to build a future for themselves and their families. GoGo Olive began with a small group of just 6 women. During 2008, Zimbabwe was in the thick of hyperinflation and it was a struggle to find even basic supplies, but, amazingly, despite all the many challenges they faced, Gogo Olive grew. They were all pretty delighted when all 55 of the first batch of animals were sold in Hume Sweet Hume on the little island of Westray on Christmas Eve 2008, a year to the day of when the vision for Gogo Olive first came about.
GoGo Olive has since expanded to involve more women and work alongside different groups to try and support as many women as possible. The aim is to identify those who are most in need and there are now around 60 knitters from four different projects in 3 different areas of Zimbabwe.
This year, Mixter Maxter are working with Age Scotland/Orkney to holding PomPom Socials - https://mixtermaxter.com/pom-pom-social-party-with-age-scotland-orkney/ - and this is one of the things I want to run with GoGo Olive in Zimbabwe next month. My aim to learn more about GoGo Olive and gain a better understanding of who is behind the products and their stories. Myself and Julie Hagan have been talking about a collaboration for some time now and we decided that 2017 is the year!
PomPom Socials allow us to work volunteering our time and providing a social opportunity for those who also wanted to volunteer theirs. The pom-poms we created with Age Scotland Orkney will be added to our new collection for sale later this year.
For more information on both projects take a look at http://www.gogo-olive.com/ and https://mixtermaxter.com/