Zellipah initiated the idea of Gitzell Fairtrade in 1998 when she came to the US to attend college and brought a suitcase full of souvenirs that she had had been gifted by her nieces in Africa. She came to the US to attend college and started showcasing her souvenirs to teachers and students which led to eventually selling the souvenirs at a cultural exchange activity at the university. Following the success at the university, Zellipah began Gitzell FairTrade and showcased the artwork at both craft fairs and festivals. Zellipah continued working with artisans from several African countries and supporting over 220 families. The increasing sales at the craft fairs and festivals eventually led her to begin selling wholesale. Gitzell FairTrade is a member of Fair Trade Federation
Zellipah’s experience with making baskets goes back to childhood. She was born in Kenya and is part of a large family with 9 children on her mother’s side and 17 children on her father’ side. The inspiration for Gitzell FairTrade really stems from her mother’s work with knitting and weaving baskets. She learned how to make sisal baskets even before learning to read and write. She would then help her mother with selling both baskets and farming produce at the local market near the health center. The family had a fence lined with the sisal cactus that provided readily available raw materials for basket weaving and also served as a protection and privacy fence.
WHAT ELSE WE OFFER
Aside from Gitzell FairTrade:
Zellipah has taken the initiative to launch Project Gold finger during Kenya’s worst drought in 60 years. She launched this project with 16 ladies in her hometown of Ngorano, Nyeri. This grew to supporting over 100 families. The goal of the project is better crop production through education and training. The main focus is on proper seed selection and growing methods. The Gold finger name stems from the notion that these women’s fingers can produce “gold” and earn income with the proper tools and resources. The mission of Project Goldfinger is to improve the livelihood of rural women through various community projects.