When we first launched our leather program, it was a decidedly small operation. Jen and I created one or two items a week as we learned the trade. Now, with five craftsmen (including Jen and I) and a dozen workers on tap (to generate journal paper) we are able to crank up production when we need to and can also hunker down to do custom orders. In short, this “leather thing” has become a success thanks in no small part to the donors that helped us fund the Loko Village rebuild and those that funded the leather program directly. We were long overdue for a web presence, and a name to establish the program as it’s own entity.
Well, we now have both.
First, the name. Ngozi is the Swahili word for leather. We tossed around quite a few other words, like “crafts” but this put us in the same category as some of the “not-so-nice” stuff called “Crafts” that are sold all over Uganda to tourists. Our work stands apart, so “crafts” wasn’t the best word, as it pulled us in with all the rest. We considered “Art” and “Artisans”, but this fell short for a few reasons. First, it lumped us in with the “Artists” in Uganda, most of whom only copy other “real artists” work, creating a flood of second-rate knockoffs and “art” that looks mostly the same from one shop to another. Again, we wanted to stad out. We don’t duplicate.. we create. Second, some of our stuff (like saddlebags, tablet cases, etc) doesn’t constitute as art since it doesn’t have any carving or tooling. It’s strong, durable, meant to last a lifetime. So, we settled on “Ngozi Creations”.
Jen found a font online, and created a logo which was good-looking and could be carved into leather, but when it came time to create business cards, she didn’t have the actual font, only a photo of the fint, which was fine for her purposees, but decidedly not fine for mine. She couldn’t remember the name of the font either, amking for the most difficult of Google searches. I tried for forty-five minutes, but in the end it was Jen who finally found the font. That officially makes her better at Google searching than me. I’ve been dethroned. (My past falls away at an alarmingly fast rate these days anyhow).
Next, we needed a web site, something simple to showcase our work. I tried to use a Flash template, but the site rejected my order as fraud. I called the company, who told me to call my bank and get a transactino code, but my bank didn’t have that. I called the company again, and they flat-out rejected my order. “If you can’t give us the code, you’re committing fraud,” they told me. “Shut up and take my money” didn’t have any weight with them.
I asked Sam to place the order, and his reply was basically, “Are you sure about Flash?” As it turned out I hadn’t thought through the site at all. Flash simply wouldn’t have worked. Most iDevices would gag on it, and even lots of Androids. What we needed, according to Sam was HTML5/CSS3. I realized in that moment how detached I’ve become from technology. OF course this was the right answer. HTML5 would render just about everywhere.
I found some decent HTML5 templates, but they all required quite a bit of heavy lifting to get off the ground. I decided to dig in and sort it out. Then the power went out.
After my laptop battery died (About halfway through the site) I fired up the JuiceBox and a few hours later, the site was finished in all it’s HTML5 glory. IT was the most technical thing I had done in weeks. That statement makes me quite sad.
We launched the NgoziCreations.com website, facebook page two days ago, and we’re working with a volunteer who’s setting up various web stores (Etsy, Amazon, Ebay) which will be linked to the site soon.
And with that, after years of false starts and untold hours or work and training, we’ve officially launched our leather program.
Thanks for all the support it took to make this happen. I’m proud of our workers and artists and excited about what’s ahead for this little group.