We are two sisters, Hatou and Fatou, who love crocheting and preserving our culture. We grew up in Quebec and southern Alberta, but we have deep roots in Mauritania, a country in north-western Africa. Though we are not fluent in our native language, Soninke, we have always looked for ways to hold on to our culture so our mom taught us how to crochet as her grandmother did with her. As time went on, we started to integrate patterns and colors from our culture in our crochet which led to us creating Kona Threads Co.
What's your favorite part of the crocheting process? Making the patterns! It gives us the chance to not only look at and pull inspiration from traditional Soninke motifs, but pattern making also allows us to explore the rich storytelling traditions of Soninke culture.
How has it been working with your sister? Hatou: Working together has been an extension of our relationship. We already support each other in so many different avenues that this was a natural partnership in building this business.
Fatou: I love my sister. She is one of my favorite people, and she inspires me to be a better person every day. It's been so easy and fun to work with her and I feel like I have learned a lot about myself, her, and the business side of things.
Why did you start Kona Threads Co? We started this small business to shed light on our culture. Soninke culture is often overshadowed or misinterpreted as it is often grouped together with other West African countries. In running this business, we hope that the world can learn more about our stories and traditions.
What does being a Maker mean to you? Being a Maker means experimenting and creating items that represent us and that can be shared and enjoyed by others.
What is your favorite thing you've created and why? Hatou: I love the Gorro pillow cover as it was inspired by one of my mom's hand-woven wrap skirts that were gifted to her by our maternal grandmother. Since I've only seen it in picture form, I wanted to create an item that would honor the many generations of Soninke textile workers.
Fatou: The original Gaara pillow cover is my favorite thing I've created. I love the colors and the simplicity! The Gaara pattern, which is supposed to resemble fish scales, is a very common pattern in Soninke textile. Textile workers hand stitch the Gaara motif onto the fabric then dye the fabric in a color of their choice. Finally, using a blade, they remove the stitching to uncover the fish scale pattern.