Basket of Ajo is inspired partly by my Dad’s younger brother, Alaba. Growing up, all our home furniture and decor were crafted by Uncle Alaba, a skilled woodworker. Art has a long history in the family. Grandpa Tommy was a Sculptor and his father, Grandpa Joseph was a Draughtsman in the Colonial Surveyor department in Southern Nigeria. Each ancestor is an inspiration to continue a family heritage of creating artwork and tools that preserve history and identity.
A creative urge and the desire to see more people motivated and empowered through handmade and curated products led to the forming of a gifting and home decor enterprise. In certain African cultures, the term ‘Ajo’ means a display of goodwill to those around you. Ajo is a journey, and a contribution, with the essence of sharing and encouraging good fortune. The concept of Ajo illustrates the essence of what we are about and a desire to create a culture of gifting for people of African descent around the world.
Gara textile making has a long history and tradition in Sierra Leone. This tradition has been in Fatmata Kabia’s family for generations. The creativity that goes into the production of our throw pillows is partly inspired by her family heritage and identity. She leads the creative team and oversees the production of our signature fabrics, all handcrafted by skilled craftsmen and women in Sierra Leone. All of our Throw Pillows are made in Sierra Leone by our team of Tailors and Seamstresses.
Our Gift boxes are filled with arts and crafts bought from craftsmen/women traders at “Big Market” in Freetown. Our small canvases are packaged in shukublai bags made by inhabitants of a historic village called Rogbonko in Northern Sierra Leone. Shukublai has strong links to the sweetgrass baskets made by African Americans along the Gullah-Geechee Corridor. The product highlights the strong connection between South Carolina, Sierra Leone and the region.
Big Market is one of the national historical monuments of Sierra Leone. Located in Freetown, it was originally built in 1861 by an Afro-West Indian builder, Charles Hazelborg. It sits at the heart of the historic settler town, founded by African American settlers in 1792, who gained their freedom from fighting for the British during the American revolutionary war. Big Market is a perfect illustration of the dynamic history and diversity of Freetown. Market traders, especially women traders and arts & crafts traders are at the heart of our brand.
©By Akindele Thomas Decker