Linda Trau is a world-renowned fashion designer who has started, launched, and grown some of the most legendary labels and stores of our generation. She’s also Chloe Jo Davis’s (Founder of GirlieGirl Army) beloved Aunt, and a tireless activist and philanthropist. Her fight for human and animal rights goes beyond her lifestyle of veganism and compassion. Her newest endeavor has changed the lives of scores of women (and their families) across Africa. And you can help. Not by donating money.. but by simply shopping for something really fabulous.
Inspired by “izuba,” the Rwandan word for sunshine, ZUBA Africa is a collaboration between Linda Trau and Fairwinds Trading, a company founded by Oprah favorite Willa Shalit, that uses business as a strategy for the economic empowerment of women in developing countries. We asked Linda about the story behind ZUBA, the artisans who hand-make each beaded necklace and printed tote, and how her efforts have made a difference in Rwandan communities.
What first brought you to Rwanda, and what is the story behind the line’s origins?
Linda: I was involved with a village that was built in Rwanda for orphaned children, and I saw how desperately poor the women were. These women were survivors of the genocide, and I decided to work in Rwanda the following summer to teach them vocational skills like sewing and making jewelry. The women responded amazingly well. Their spirits were lifted. I worked with the local materials, and began to design fashionable pieces for stores in the United States. We had a wonderful response and were able to empower hundreds of women. In turn, their lives were changed, as was mine. The humble gratitude was so inspiring and heartwarming that my life has been changed forever.
What benefit have you seen in these Rwandan communities?
Linda: The benefits for the women have been wonderful. They have become stronger and better able to feed themselves and their children. Learning these skills has given them hope and a newfound passion for living. Not having to depend on the charity of others changes their reality.
What goes into the creation of each piece? Could you tell us about the process?
Linda: Each design is based on an original idea, and assembled with materials purchased in local markets. The vibrant prints and colors are inspired by the Rwandan women themselves.
Support this incredible project and endeavor by supporting Zuba and forwarding this blog and reposting to your networks, particularly to your ladies of style and substance. Together, we can make a difference.. and look really foxy doing it. L’chaim, kittens.