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Jul 29, 2020

Could you imagine launching a footwear business with absolutely having no background experience in fashion design, manufacturing, or textiles? Not only that but imagine that the vision you have for your "dream shoe brand" consists of working solely with African businesses and artisans. In this perfect world where you’re imagining this perfect shoe you will, of course, only source the highest quality handmade wax fabrics, work with local charities that support women artisans, create close collaborations and partnerships with fair-trade manufacturers, use only eco-friendly materials, and oh, who knows, maybe at some point, you’ll want to create a circular fashion program!?!

For most of us, this “vision” may seem impossible. Where would one even begin? But for Hugues Didier and Vulfran de Richoufftz, the co-founders of PANAFRICA, and Hélène Lucas, their Communications Director, and today’s podcast guest, this “impossible vision” is exactly what they set out to create. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Did they make it happen? Yes, and I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Hélène to hear all about the journey that led this amazing trio to turn their vision into a reality. 

In today’s episode Hélène and I cover:

- Her Franco-African upbringing and how it influenced her career.
- How she came to join PANAFRICA’s founding team.
- What inspired Vulfran and Hugues to launch an ethical footwear company working with African businesses and artisans.
- The various textiles used + how and where they’re sourced.
- The history of traditional wax fabric.
- Their collaboration with Afrika Tiss (a Franco-Burkinabe organization which sets up initiatives aimed at promoting craftsmanship as a lever for economic and social development)
- Their close partnerships with artisans and manufactures throughout Africa.
- The importance of creating a transparent and ethical fashion brand.
- The entrepreneurial challenges they’ve faced.
- Their collaboration with the fashion brand agnes b.
- And so much more!

This was such a wonderful conversation and one I think you’ll really enjoy! Happy listening!