When passionate women come together, lives around the globe are forever transformed. Years ago, Shannon Newsom, Founder of Wisteria, planted the idea of home goods in the mind and heart of Akola Founder, Brittany Underwood. Shannon was inspired by the work of Brittany and her team to empower thousands of lives in Uganda and wanted Wisteria to be a part of it.
Akola, "she works," is a non-profit that vocationally trains, dependably employs, and holistically educates women in areas of health, wellness, and finance. Up until the initial conversation between Shannon and Brittany, Akola's vocational training and employment focused solely on a jewelry collection that retails in 450 speciality stores in the U.S. Shannon thought Akola could do more, and she asked "Have you thought about pillows?"
Fast forward three years to the official launch of Akola Home through Wisteria -- beautiful, handmade pillows that are transforming the lives of hundreds. The pillows, designed in partnership with Wisteria and Akola, showcase an intricate handwoven textile that incorporates raffia, a natural resources from Uganda villages, and a one-of-a-kind bone bead closure. Each pillow is handmade by 1 of 400 Akola women, and 100% of Akola's product sales are reinvested in the social mission to empower more women around the world.
Launching a product expansion could not have been possible without the support of Shannon and the Wisteria team. As a non-profit, Akola is only able to add women and product offerings through donated expansion capital. Shannon introduced Akola to her church, Highland Park United Methodist Church, who donated the initial seed capital for Akola's textile program expansion. With their funds, Akola set into motion constructing the the vocational training center in Nabukosi village of Uganda, hiring local woodsmen to hand-build looms, and training Akola members in the craft of loom weaving. Rounds of research and development later, Akola now has the infrastructure in place to design and produce a wide variety of home goods that Akola plans to releases in the coming years. Through this partnership, Akola has even launched a cotton growing and spinning program to empower women in Northern Uganda. Every single component of Akola's value chain can and will be used to empower vulnerable women around the world.
You can purchase Akola Home pillows at Wisteria's Dallas store on Lovers Lane.