Meet the Cork-based designer who has launched a clothing range supporting women in her homeland

A renowned designer and artist who moved to Cork four years ago has launched a range of clothing to help women in her homeland, Nairobi, writes EMMA CONNOLLY
Meet the Cork-based designer who has launched a clothing range supporting women in her homeland
Rosemarie Kamana who will showcase her range at the Gifted Craft and Design Fair Cork at City Hall from November 29 to December 1.

A CARRIGTWOHILL-based artist and designer, originally from Kenya, has launched a new range of clothing to help women struggling to make ends meet in her homeland to help themselves.

Rosemarie Kamana has set up a collective of women in Nairobi and has collaborated with them to produce bags and clothing and to ultimately make them self-sufficient.

Interestingly, all items are sustainable and made from leftover materials discarded from factories across the continent and the range also includes jewellery made from recycled plastics.

Proceeds from what she’s called the Kamana range also supports the construction of schools and other community buildings in Kenya.

The public will have a chance to see the range for themselves and support the initiative as the Kamana range will be available at the Gifted Craft and Design Fair Cork at Cork City Hall from November 29 to December 1.

Scarf by Kamana who will showcase their range at the Gifted Craft and Design Fair Cork at City Hall from November 29 to December 1.
Scarf by Kamana who will showcase their range at the Gifted Craft and Design Fair Cork at City Hall from November 29 to December 1.

A renowned designer and artist by trade, Rosemarie lived in Sydney for six years before moving to Cork four years ago. She completed a masters in design while in Sydney, where she was mentored by an Irish artist who suggested making the move here as she felt the environment would encourage her creativity.

She now works for Gilead Therapies in Carrigtwohill, but a visit home last year opened her eyes to how hard things are for women in Kenya.

“At a market one day I met with a grandmother, in her 70s, who was raising her four grandchildren because her daughter had died from the HIV virus,” said Rosemarie.

“There are a lot of women over there who are struggling alone to survive on just two dollars a day. Some are forced to sell their bodies and be abused to provide for their children.”

Baby bags made from cut off fabrics (€39.99) available from Kamana who will showcase their range at the Gifted Craft and Design Fair Cork at City Hall from November 29 to December 1.
Baby bags made from cut off fabrics (€39.99) available from Kamana who will showcase their range at the Gifted Craft and Design Fair Cork at City Hall from November 29 to December 1.

As well as organising the women to produce the garments, and selling them for them, Rosemarie has also set up workshops to train others to get involved and benefit from the collective.

“I felt that I needed to do something, so I set up this collective of women to try and empower them and give them the opportunity to, in turn, empower others through these workshops. As an artist, I think it’s important for people to come together and make a change,” she said.

Rosemarie’s immediate target is to install a kitchen in a Kenyan school, where sanitation would be typically poor, which she intends to deliver for them as a Christmas gift, and she’s also planning another trip there shortly.

“I just feel I have an opportunity to help to build a community; so one woman can help another and she can help another. If we can all help each other collectively, and if there’s a will and faith, I feel anything is possible,” she said.

One of the women working on The Kamana range, in Nairobi.
One of the women working on The Kamana range, in Nairobi.

Outside of this, she’s also just been part of Art Source, Dublin, which is one of the most high profile art events of the year, featuring 200 Irish and international artists. Rosemarie’s Kamana range was showcased at the prestigious event and she said the feedback was incredible.

UPCOMING FAIR IN CORK

Formerly known as the City Hall Crafts Fair, Gifted Cork will feature more than 100 stands with everything from food to fashion, jewellery and more.

This year sees the launch of Art Source Cork, featuring the best of contemporary Irish artists, which will run alongside Gifted Cork and will feature 20 of Ireland’s top artists and galleries showcasing affordable contemporary art for the home.

Gifted Cork also features The Spectacular Christmas Food Emporium with over 25 local artisan food producers, tempting visitors with the best of the season’s fare.

Organiser Patrick O’Sullivan said: “There will be a huge concentration on sustainable gifts at Gifted Cork, with some of Ireland’s most original sustainable fashion, beauty and homeware brands.”

Gifted Craft and Design Fair Cork and Art Source Cork take place at the City Hall Cork from November 29 to December 1 See giftedcork.ie.

The Kamana range will be shortly available at rosemariekamana.art

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