Adèle Dejak is an impressive woman. Originally a typographic designer trained at the London College of Printing, she has become one of the celebrated upcoming designers of Kenya. Born of Adèle’s desire to create job opportunities in Nairobi, she spent time and investment in training and up skilling employees to share knowledge and experience. There is a strong emphasis on sustainability and engagement with local communities including working with refugee camps in northern Kenya.
Adèle Dejak creates handmade fashion accessories for the modern, sophisticated and multidimensional woman. Inspired by African shapes, textures and traditional techniques, the cutting-edge pieces sit perfectly between artefact and high fashion statement designs. She is the perfect role-model and proof that african fashion and design can make an impact – in the community and the world!
A great success was her cooperation with the label Salvatore Ferragamo and its creative director Massimiliano Giornetti for “Bags for Africa”. BAGS FOR AFRICA supports development projects that champion women’s rights and the empowerment of local communities in Africa.
Adèle Dejak, tag yourself with three words.
Bold, design junkie, passionate
We believe that “hands tell stories“. What do your hands tell about you?
That i am a hard worker. I like to empower myself with the statement rings that i wear everyday. Usually, my rings are the first things people notice about me.
As a designer you work with your hands on a regular basis. What is the last thing you created with your hands?
I create everyday. The last thing i created are the new bracelets that we will be launching on Valentines Day.
If you could choose, what would you like to be able to do with your hands?
To Build a house.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
The advice my mother gave me about always being strong and independent and relying on yourself.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by everything around me. Growing up between Nigeria and Cambridge, I have always been interested in the connections between places and the inspiration one can draw from this. I take photographs everywhere I go and am obsessed with visiting markets which I try to do everywhere I go. Also, I try to take inspiration from as many things as I can from high end fashion designers, to art, to nature and the people who I work with.
“One of a mind” underlines our strong belief in equality and the value of sharing. How does intercultural exchange benefit our global society in your eyes?
Through intercultural exchange, we get to see a difference in beauty that we probably never knew existed. It also puts everything into perspective, hence making you grounded. Paradoxically, although we are a global village, we still share the same dreams and aspirations.
The Adèle Dejak pieces are all handmade in Kenya. How did you get in touch with that country?
By chance. By living here and by having a sense of adventure. I wanted to see the heart and soul of Kenya and how it differentiates with other cultures. Also, never living the house without my camera.
What does Kenya have that no other culture has?
Every culture is unique. Kenya has the magnificent Mount Kenya and the wonderful Ol Pejecta conservancy.
Talking about other senses – how would you describe the “Tastes of Kenya” and what is your favourite?
My favourite tastes of Kenya include the way in which women from all social backgrounds walk around with the lesso/Kanga draped around their shoulders during the cold season. I also love the way various restaurants and pubs provide for their guests maasai blankets at night. I am in love with the way all Kenyan women from different cultural backgrounds have embraced the Maasai and Samburu cultures. You will always easily see the adornment of cultural maasai/samburu accessories on women out and about.
We absolutely love the Adèle Dejak pieces. What makes your collection unique?
I think one of the things which makes my collections unique is the way in which I use materials from across Africa in innovative and creative ways. Ankole cow horn is especially one of my favourite materials to work with, it is reclaimed due to its beauty and abstract nature. I try to build on previous collections to produce accessories which are appealing to an international audience and challenge bad perceptions about products made in Africa. As a perfectionist I put a strong emphasis on quality of production, which I feel puts our collections in a good position in terms of local and international brands.
Last but not least – what is your your favourite quote:
“Make chance essential”
To sneak a peak behind the scenes and take a closer look at one of Adèle Dejak’s products, check out the profile of the Zuri Dark Horn Bracelet.
© All photos via Adèle Dejak