A big part of setting up NOZOMI has been discovering brands that meet our three core values; Skillfully Made, Fairly Traded and Empowering People and then being able to share them with you guys.
So with this in mind we thought we would shine a little light on the brands we are partnering with, this first spotlight is on the beautiful Rose & Fitzgerald.
We were lucky enough to ask the founder and director of R n F Courtney Poole a few questions, enjoy!
So Courtney, where did your inspiration come from to start Rose and Fitzgerald?
When I moved to Uganda in 2012 with my husband, I fell in love with the richness of the colours and textures of handmade goods found at markets, and was so impressed with the methodologies for crafting them. Decorating a big empty house in a chaotic, third-world country was no easy feat, so I began working with local artisans to handcraft my own designs—items mixing my coastal, modern design perspective with the timeless methods of these master craftsmen. I was so impressed with the goods that resulted in our collaborations, and knew it was the beginning of something much bigger. Starting a business that would employ artisans to practice a craft they were not only brilliant at, but also deeply loved, became a desire that I couldn’t ignore.
Tell us a bit about the artisans you work with?
Our design studio in Kampala is a space we poured a great deal of love and energy into. We wanted this workshop to feel unlike any in Uganda, so we focused on making the space feel creative and energetic. More than anything, we wanted our studio to give these incredibly talented artists a space to master a craft they have practiced for years. Many of the techniques they use are sadly dying out, due to large craft factories, so we’re doing everything we can to preserve their traditional artistry. In a world where many artisanal goods are produced in factories and sold through mass marketing campaigns, the Rose & Fitzgerald studio was created in hopes of giving people something truly unique. Currently, we have a team of 9 full-time Ugandan staff working there each weekday, which includes a metal smith team, a cow horn team and a production/quality control manager. I think the stability our artisans have within their well-paid roles, along with working each day in such a creative, free environment, gives the artisans a great deal of joy and allows them to focus on perfecting their art.
What are a couple of the benefits and challenges in doing business in the way that you do?
Building Rose & Fitzgerald has been a marathon, certainly not a sprint. Challenges are persistent and could have stopped us countless times along the way, but I’m so glad we’ve chosen to push through time and time again. Being in Uganda full time and spending most of my energy on the manufacturing side meant there were serious constraints on the other end of the business, and what I could achieve in terms of sales and marketing. Now, being based in the US, I have so much more access to networking, sales opportunities, pop-ups and events, but this means entrusting others to manage our Uganda-based operations, production, sourcing, quality control, and product sampling. It has meant having less control over these aspects, and has of course made communication more difficult with our artisans. But the move back to the U.S. has been incredible for our growth and sales potential, so pushing ahead feels natural and exciting.
Awesome, thanks Courtney!
To check out the full NOZOMI range of Rose & Fitzgerald, check out