Chapter 2: Crafting Traditions - Ankole's Diverse Artisanal Odyssey
In the ever-evolving world of Ankole, the journey from humble salad bowls to intricate bottle openers, delicate egg spoons to ornate napkin rings, is a testament to the brand's commitment to preserving an age-old craft. Embracing working with horn has been a central focus for Ankole. Recognising the immense skill embedded in this ancient tradition, Ankole has been a driving force in preserving this craftsmanship. The viability of this incredible skill, deeply rooted in history, faced the risk of diminishing without a substantial market for horn products in Uganda. Ankole's commitment lies not only in creating exquisite pieces but also in sustaining a rich cultural heritage that might otherwise fade away in the absence of a thriving market.
In Ankole's early collection, drinking vessels, buttons, and shoe horns showcased the timeless artistry of horn crafting. Lesley Magnay, the visionary behind Ankole, recognised that sustaining this traditional craft required a global market and a larger collection. Over the past decade, she tirelessly worked to establish wholesale businesses within Uganda, Kenya, and America.
The journey didn't stop there. Lesley, accompanied by her ever-supportive husband John, crisscrossed the Atlantic, making multiple trips to the UK each year to participate in some of the country's most prestigious country events. These gatherings not only introduced Ankole to a broader audience but also formed the foundation of a growing community of loyal customers and friends.
As Ankole flourished, so did the local community in Uganda. The success of the business translated into meaningful support for the region. Lesley and John extended their assistance beyond commerce, paying school fees for local children and investing in the education and aspirations of the community.
In 2018, Ankole took a step further by purchasing a sewing machine for a local girl, Melissa. Beyond crafting cotton over-the-shoulder bags for Ankole's horn pairs which sold in the UK, Melissa established her own business, creating clothes sold within her village. This ripple effect of support embodies Ankole's deep-rooted commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of those involved in the craft.
Ankole stands as more than a brand; it's a source of pride for Lesley, John, and the entire community it touches. The ongoing journey is not just a testament to craftsmanship but a celebration of sustaining tradition, empowering communities, and building lasting connections. As we explore the chapters ahead, we'll delve into the intricate stories behind each piece, showcasing how Ankole's evolution is intertwined with the artistry of its craftsmen and the growth of a supportive global community.