tribe philosophy

May 14, 2024

tribe philosophy

Get to know TRIBE’s Philosophy: Interview with TRIBE  founder Jo England GOOD magazine 2019.

What’s the Tribe Philosophy?

The philosophy behind Tribe is to give back. While we’re styling our homes, and having a beautiful environment, we can be conscious about where these things came from, who’s making them, and who’s behind them. Some of these crafts are generations old and support whole communities of people. We describe ourselves as a conscious way of living. The world’s in crisis and we’ve all got to make an effort.

What inspired you to launch Tribe?

Tribe represents my passion for handmade, organic and sustainable goods. I love sourcing products, meeting with the artisans and supporting the continuation of these timeless skills. Ethical trade is the core of my business principle. It must be good for the environment, good for the artisan and good for the community.

Credit: Dharma Door

How do you source your products?

A big part of our business is bringing on brands that are ethically aligned with our philosophy. We try to find the right person, wether that’s a craftsman in a village or an initiative that’s already been established, such as Armadillo & Co., Fiona Walker or Dharma Door. The other part of our business is the furniture we design ourselves. I frequently go on sourcing trips, on my most recent trip I found a company that’s run by four generations of the same family. They hand-loom cotton in their shop, so in the back corner there’s a loom and the two generations sit there, day in, day out, sliding the little loom back and forth between them. It’s phenomenal. And the father spins the cotton, so it’s a true family business. They make our Cinnamon collection of cotton blankets and cushions.

Credit: Armadillo & Co.

How do these initiatives give back?

The beautiful Armadillo& Co Rugs are certified Fair-trade, made from sustainable materials, and provide employment for their ‘family’ of 1500 weavers, which sustains an industry of ancient craftsmen. It supports education and local school in their weavers’ villages, has built six schools so far, and builds a brighter future for children in these under privileged communities. It’s also certified Kaleen, which is the commitment that no child labour is used in the making of their products.

How do you work with community to create your own furniture range?

Our Malawi range is an initiative by an architect who has a strong connection with the country. In Malawi, less than three per cent of the population has access to electricity so they need that person to come in and help them set up the initiative. They found the best quality in all of the villages, and formed a relationship with these craftsmen, who make their traditional chairs under a tree in their village. It’s a FairTrade set up so we know they are getting paid fairly for their work. The craft of these authentic Malawi chairs has been passed down generations, but in addition selling these traditional chairs, we’ve now worked with them to expand the collection. We get a lot of feedback from our clients, and everyone’s looking for a bench or stool these days, so they’ve created a malawi bench, side table, stool and baby chair.

 What are some of the challenges?

Each item is slowly and meticulously handmade by an artisan, and each piece is different to the next. You can’t rush these things, and the logistics of sourcing handmade products from more than 25 different countries can take its toll.

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