Skip to content

Tag: Home décor

Six Bougies: Personal and Home Accessories Set to the Backdrop of West Africa

If you’re interested in textiles, a trip to Dakar will feel like you’ve hit the jackpot. You’ll find a dazzling array of fabrics from across the region at huge, never-ending markets such as HLM, high-end boutiques, roadside stalls, and even in your local corner shop.

The choice of fabrics and ease of being able to produce high-quality items by excellent tailors was one of the reasons which inspired Kim Rochette and Megan Carpenter to start Six Bougies, a Dakar based home décor and personal accessories range that fuses West African textiles and patterns with a Western aesthetic. Rebecca Hughes came onboard in 2015, after Megan left Dakar.

Inspired by the light and colours of West Africa, this brand has a fresh, global feel. A couple of their bogolan fabric pillows can easily add elegance and interest to a drab sofa, or a pop of their signature turquoise and coral in the form of a clutch bag livens-up a plain outfit. Their simple, clean, designs let the amazing fabrics speak for themselves.

Recently, I spoke to this lovely, talented and textile-crazy pair to find out more about their company, their design inspirations, and to get some insider tips on buying fabric in Dakar.

Where did the idea for Six Bougies come from?

K: When we first came to Dakar, we were captivated by the selection of fabrics and textiles from all over West Africa, and loved the ability to have clothing and accessories custom-made. We began contemplating the idea of a small business sourcing fabrics and commissioning clothes and accessories from local tailors and in 2013, Six Bougies was born!

What are some of your design inspirations?

R: We’re inspired by the vibrant colours and patterns we see in the city. We love how Senegalese men and women are bold and fearless with their colour choices and put intricate, elaborate detail into custom-made outfits for everyday wear. Six Bougies aims to translate this local inspiration into original, daring clothing, accessory and home décor designs that will appeal to Senegalese and international clients alike.

Man modelling a red Six Bougies wax print tie.

Six Bougies pink patterened duffel bag.
Wax print tie (top) and wax and bogolan duffel bag

K: I’ve lived in Senegal for six years and definitely agree with Becky on the colour and personal style so prominent in Dakar. I’m also very inspired by the use of colour and design in unexpected places like on car rapides, pirogues, and in mosques. The tropical climate also serves as inspiration as it lends itself to an indoor/outdoor, laidback style both for clothing and home décor.

What makes Six Bougies unique?

K: We aim for impeccable design and quality, ethically made and at a reasonable price. Our signature aesthetic features unexpected textile, pattern and colour combinations, while maintaining a classic, fresh style.

R: We’re especially committed to using locally made fabrics as often as possible such as indigo, bogolan, woven fabric and wax prints produced in Africa (woodin, uniwax etc.) and are devoted to supporting the local garment industry.

A selection of Six Bougies pillows on a sofa.

What is your all-time favourite Six Bougies product?

R: I love our pagne tissé clutch. I use mine all the time and it’s great for travelling as it fits my passport and other important documents while still looking stylish.

K: I love wearing a flowy blouse we make with Mauritanian voile fabric; it’s breezy and comfortable, perfect for a hot climate or layered under a cardigan. I’m also obsessed with pillows, and I love all our pillow designs – bogolan, indigo, pagne tissé, and wax alike!

Rebecca Hughes modelling a Mauritanian voile fabric Six Bougies top in blue.

Pink and blue Six Bougies Pagne Tisse clutch bag on wooden table.
Mauritanian voile fabric top (above) and pagne tissé clutch bag

What are the home décor trends you’re loving right now?

R: In the home décor world, mudcloth pillows are currently super popular. I like this trend because they’re neutral but still offer a “global” pop, and can easily be mixed with other colours.

K: Indigo is becoming increasingly popular as well. In general, I love white/neutral walls and bringing in colour and pattern through global, textured home décor accessories like pillows, throws, baskets and decorative items. I see this style a lot on home décor blogs, especially in Californian and Australian homes.

Six Bougies co-founders Rebecca Hughes and Kim Rochette with their favourite indigo supplier at Soumbedioune market in Dakar.
Rebecca and Kim with their indigo supplier at Soumbedioune market in Dakar

What are the most challenging aspects of running a business?

R: Since Kim and I both have other careers, it can be challenging to balance a second job on top of our other responsibilities.

And the most rewarding?

R: The most rewarding aspect is the design process as well as working with our team of artisans. I love imagining the colour combination possibilities.

K: I agree, building relationships with artisans has been very important. And, of course, seeing the fruit of that collaborative process feels pretty great – especially spotting a Six Bougies blouse on the streets of Dakar! Knowing that people share our design aesthetic, value ethical shopping, and are enjoying Six Bougies products – there’s nothing more rewarding to me.

A tailor sewing pillows with a Singer sewing machine

Two female tailors at work
(From top) Six Bougies Tailors Bouba, Penda and Adji

How does Six Bougies give back to the local community?

R: In a big-picture sense, we are a socially-responsible business providing employment to local tailors and supporting the local garment industry.

K: The name Six Bougies comes from an iconic Vlisco wax fabric representative of female empowerment. Giving back to the local community – particularly women and families – has been a key part of the Six Bougies ethos from day one. As the company grows, we hope to formalise this commitment and brainstorm specific community projects beyond employing local artisans at above-market price. For now, clients can rest assured that they are purchasing ethically-made products that are directly supporting the local workforce.

What’s next for Six Bougies and where do you see the brand going in the next five years?

R: We’re scaling up! With the launch of our new website very soon, we hope to increase our sales overseas as well as create more of an internet presence.

K: We’re also hoping to work with more international wholesale clients to sell at a larger scale, ultimately bringing more jobs to our Senegalese tailors and artisans and hopefully leading to some meaningful community projects. Our co-founder Megan is now based in Los Angeles, and is setting up our international marketing on the West coast of the United States.

A stack of pink pagne tisse fabric.
Pagne tissé

And lastly, I can’t let you go without giving Palm Tree Tea readers some insider tip on buying textiles in Dakar!

K: Of course! Sourcing textiles is one of my favourite parts of Six Bougies. Dakar has tons of great places for hunting unique and beautiful textiles; for wax, I recommend HLM, of course, but Sandaga actually has a diverse and great selection as well, particularly of wax from Benin. For indigo and bogolan, I recommend Soumbedioune market.

R: I love ACOMA, it’s a co-op of weavers who came together in the 1980s. They weave all their fabric on site, and have a boutique there as well. They do custom orders and we try to work with them as often as we can. They’re located in Point E, right near the Ali Baba restaurant on the Rue de Ouakam.

 

Six Bougies is available to buy in Dakar at Keur Marie Ganaar, the arts and crafts cooperative in Mermoz. International orders can be placed through their Etsy shop, and you can also find them on Facebook and Instagram.

1 Comment

A Dakar Apartment Tour

img_9079

After two years, our apartment is finally starting to come together. I feel like we’ve managed to create a simple, stylish, yet comfortable space on a budget, something which can be quite hard to do in an expensive city like Dakar.

I thought I’d share some hints and tips on how we achieved a chic, yet affordable look.

img_9048

We had almost all our furniture made by a great local carpenter. The rest, we were lucky enough to inherit from family who were leaving. We find having furniture made using strong and sturdy local wood lasts much longer than the more expensive items you find at big department stores.

img_9007
Colourful Ghanaian throw on the sofa.

As it’s a rental apartment and we can’t change the walls, we used colourful, mainly African-inspired accessories like pillows, throws, rugs and baskets to add pops of colours to the neutral background.

img_8927

In one corner we have a couple of rainbow-coloured storage baskets which not only look pretty but are extremely useful for tidying away bits and pieces. We use them to store books, magazines and blankets for those (rare) chilly nights.

img_8960
I love succulents as they’re so easy to look after and do well in this climate. I put these into glass and steel bowls and added some colourful stones around the cactus.
img_9043
Our coffee table is actually two benches from our dining table pushed together. We almost always use them in this way, unless we’re having people over for dinner.
img_8950
Fairy lights along the top of the living room door add some sparkle at night-time.

Our hallway is quite spacious so we decided to use it as a separate dining room. We had this chunky wooden table and benches made by our carpenter.

img_9096

img_9106

img_9073

These glasses were formerly pasta sauce jars. They don’t break as easily as normal glasses, look lovely, and of course come free with your next pasta meal!

I hope you enjoyed this little insight into our living space. Let me know if you have any money-saving décor tips in the comments, and also if you would like to see more posts like this in the future.

Décor Details

White candles from Casino supermarket, wooden table and benches made by carpenter, curtain rails made by carpenter, curtain fabric bought and curtains made at Decotex, cream coloured rug from Orca, plates from shop next to Ouakam Market (a bargain at only 1000 CFA each!), catci and storage baskets bought from roadside vendors.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Palm Tree Tea by adding your email address to the form on right!

Leave a Comment

Aissa Dione : The Grand Dame of the West African Textile Industry

Aissa Dione
Aissa Dione (photo provided by Aissa Dione Tissus)

Writing our first Palm Tree Tea and Afterblixen blogs collaboration on the eve of March 8th, International Women’s Day, it’s very fitting that our chosen subject is Aissa Dione, the grand dame of the West African textile industry.

Almost thirty years ago, Dione started her textile workshop with the last remaining master weavers of the Mandjaque peoples in Senegal. Since then, she has grown her business, Aissa Dione Tissus, into an internationally recognised luxury brand, provided over a hundred jobs, and preserved precious skills that were on the brink of being lost.

Her textiles have been used to produce home décor and fashion accessories by some of the finest design brands around the world such as Hermés, Fendi, Christian Lacroix and Peter Marino to name a few.

Dione, born to a Senegalese father and a French mother, spent the early part of her life in France, moving to Senegal in her twenties to pursue a career as an artist. After receiving commissions to decorate homes and offices around Dakar, news of her talents quickly spread and she grew a large local and international client base.

Textile weaving and dyeing in West Africa is an ancient tradition which dates back to the 15th Century. Dione used her background in fine art to create a product that respected this tradition, but was more commercially viable for the global market by adjusting the dimensions and colour palette of the textiles.

The results are rich and sumptuous, with her intricately woven designs providing an understated shimmer and luminosity to furniture upholstery, shoes, bags, wallets, pillowcases and an array of other elegant accessories.

A trip to her gallery and shop in Dakar is a feast for the eyes, and provides lots of home décor inspiration; all the furniture is designed and produced by Dione and the art on the walls is by local artists that she champions. Everything is available to purchase, or you can work with her directly for a customised design.

What we find truly appealing about Dione as an entrepreneur is not just her revival of the Senegalese woven textile industry, her job creation or beautiful products, but that her vision is one that encompasses the whole cotton supply chain; from production to processing through to manufacturing of the end product.

She believes that through targeted investments in the whole supply chain it’s possible to build an economically viable local cotton industry based on small production units, like the one she has successfully created. A vision where quality and local craftsmanship, rather than quantity are the essence, even if it means ‘swimming against the tide’ of how mainstream manufacturing and import/export models work in Africa.

Dione is discreet and unassuming in her manner, but her achievements speak volumes about her tenacity and vision, and celebrate the exceptional talent of Senegal’s traditional weavers, and its fine materials (the country’s cotton is among the world’s finest).

Her story is one of passion, dedication and determination. She has persevered, against the odds, to almost single-handedly keep the ancient art of Senegalese Mandjaque weaving alive, created luxury fabrics using home-grown cotton and successfully exported this unique cultural heritage to the rest of the world.

Dione should be an inspiration to a whole new generation of entrepreneurs to start turning the riches of this continent into tangible products that can be shared with the world. She proves it can be done, and that it can be done in style.

 

Watch a short interview with Aissa here, and see the master weavers at work here.

For more information including contact details for the gallery and shop, please see the Aissa Dione Tissus website or facebook page.

3 Comments