Hi there, I’m Viola Labi; the woman blessed to partner with 186 intergenerational Artisan businesswomen. I first was introduced to the art of textiles, retail and story-telling as a child observing my Mother at her textile boutique in Toronto, Canada. For 18 years, she welcomed and inspired clients with tales of craftsmanship wrapped in history and cultural legacy.
I have just over 16 years of invaluable experience working in customer-centric leadership roles in major North American and European retail companies. I now enjoy working outdoors with skilled weavers, under the glorious African sun, at the beginning of many ethical supply chains. These various life experiences have connected in such a consistent and beautiful way.
The company was born on a personal journey to Ghana in 2017. I witnessed my reunification to elements of Ghana's time-honoured traditions like Shea, textile, and basketry production at the diligent hands of skilled female Artisans. While submerged in these environments, and despite language barriers and unfamiliar grounds, I felt centred and at home. As I built relationships, these women started sharing their economic and social opportunities with me and to be honest, I didn't have the answers; so I just listened. Understanding each of their needs required me to remove unconscious biases about Africa, luxury and marginalized groups of people. I needed to see life from their reality. As we built relationships, it planted a seed and I knew then I was called to partner with these women.
As I spent more time with these women, I also found myself being stitched together in areas I didn’t know needed mending; areas like identity, culture and purpose. These women were educating me about heritage, femininity and survival. Looking back, these women and I weaved symbolic exchanges of knowledge and cultural practices.
Although building this business wasn't intentional, it was written for my path. Now, by God's grace, I continue to create a brand that strives to make an impact on the lives of our first customer; the Artisan. For years—I developed skills, practiced my craft, and committed myself to build this business and the micro-businesses of the women Artisans that I serve. In unspoken ways, they each teach me about femininity, grace, and sustainability. Our connection is beyond the product and it's been a journey that I would embark upon again and again if given the chance.
In 2019, the company began partnerships with 5 basket weaving Artisans in Northern Ghana, while I spearheaded the opening of West Africa’s first Versace Collections mono boutique in Southern Ghana. Did I mention I loved the spontaneity this lifestyle demanded? Woven Worldwide has now grown our partnerships to 270 basket weavers between Southern/and Northern Ghana. We are proud of how far we have come, yet opportunities remain for the collective agency of Artisans in Ghana.
Although the assortment of our products is woven by hand, the company name speaks of an ideology; a blend of skill sets acquired throughout my personal and professional experiences, the indigenous beauty of ancestral weaving techniques that Our Partners exemplify, and a higher purpose of coming together as Humanity.
Know that if you ever have questions about a product—I'm only an email away. The very best to you and your family in 2022!