Posted Apr 24th, 2019 in Retail Roundup
Living in a first-world country like America and being able to enjoy all the benefits of a thriving place like Downtown Wilmington, it’s hard to imagine any other kind of life. Six years ago, Tony Peele and Caroline Fisher were in Tanzania and discovered an issue of inequality where talented women lacked the opportunity to thrive.
The women worked hard creating products that incorporated intricate beading, yet they still lived in poverty because of limited outlets for sales. These women did not want pity; they were hopeful and resilient, yet powerless. In their year in Tanzania, Tony and Caroline built relationships and decided to create a business where these handmade products could be sold in America as a way to help lift the women out of poverty.
The business started with sandals designed by Caroline in styles Americans would wear and were made by the Tanzanian women. The sandals were sold wholesale and the business grew to include towels, bags, jewelry and more.
Tony and Caroline opened their first Swahili Coast retail store in The Cotton Exchange in 2017 and continued to grow the business to include global sales. By the end of 2017, they had secured a deal with national retailer, Anthropologie, to sell their sandals.
Last year, Tony returned to Tanzania to form a co-op which would be ethical and sustainable. The co-op is self-managed and employs 30 local people including 26 women.
In Wilmington, they also expanded into bigger retail premises on 21 North Front Street and opened a studio at Chandlers’ Wharf.
By growing Swahili Coast and developing wholesale connections nationally and worldwide, Tony and Caroline hope to employ more people locally and in Tanzania and to continue the story of “power over pity” for Tanzanian women.
You can share in this movement to empower women by shopping at Swahili Coast for products like high-quality, unique flip-flops, towels that are incredibly soft and lightweight, stylish bags and beaded cuffs that are individually designed.
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
225 S Water St