Meet Bonny - Our Soapstone Partner from Kisii Kenya
The beautiful soapstone products are hand carved, pained and etched by artisans in the Kisii area of Kenya. Bonny is the owner of the business. It is a family business and soapstone are has been part of his life all of his life.
I met Bonny on my last trip to Kenya. We have been working with him since 2018. He found us through our Facebook page and like many do, reached out to me to see if I was interested in the soapstone product. On one of my trips I had him send some sample product and then placed an order.
The quality of the product they make is excellent and we work together to improve the product for what customers here want. For instance the bowls pictured on the cover image are not painted on the inside and treated with beeswax so they can be used for food. Previously they were painted on the inside which made it no suitable for food. Many of our customers wanted to use them for more than decorations so we created a solution to make that happen.
I'm pictured here with Bonny at Imani Radio in Kitale, Kenya.
Soapstone is a soft rock that is easy to carve. The soapstone carvers make it into may different shapes and paint it right colors. We have been working with this group to develop new products and ways to make the product better.
Bonny started working with soapstone in 2016 after finishing university. The business is a family owned business and he took it over from his father who was a soapstone carver.
Bonny learned some skills for the business as a boy from his father but didn’t have much of an interest until he grew up and graduated from university. He thought if he can work this business he will help people in his community. Families struggle to get food, shelter, pay school fees and get medical care.
The men and women in the community who work with the soapstone depend on it as a source of income for their families. "If we are able to get more orders it will help us for paying school fees which is the biggest challenge." No school leads to drop outs, early marriage and pregnancy. Their goal is to provide steady work to prevent these situations from happening.
Your purchase of soapstone products helps families build a sustainable life.
These women are working on smoothing the soapstone figurines.
Visit the online store or our space at Fair Trade Long Beach in Long Beach CA to purchase soapstone products.