Philanthropy + Fashion = the Nakate Project

Posted on October 3, 2011


At Africa Fashion Guide we often come across similar projects in Africa who work with African artisans and local communities. Nakate is one such project but with a difference. Described by its founder, recent graduate, Shanley Knox as a “philanthropy focused fashion initiative”. Nakate is a transnational jewellery company bringing the work of  female artisans in rural Uganda to the fashion industry’s forefront.

summershoot - image courtesy Nakate

In telling her story on why she started Nakate, Shanley says

“In 2010, I reported on the aftermath of an AIDS crisis in Kakooge, Uganda. After returning home, I made a commitment to invest in the economic growth of individual women in Kakooge, rather than asking for donations from people that had never seen the things I had encountered in Africa.

I launched Nakate six months later, and I’ve been running around backstage at one fashion show or another ever since.”

Shanley now spends a substantial amount of time back in Uganda, but Nakate is now in partnership with Oregon and California based designers and has released four unique lines for Fall 2011. The Portland based company supports female artisans in the third world through buying their goods at a rate higher than the market price, and seeks to bring attention to cultural, religious and economic issues surrounding individual women through bringing their designs, and their stories, with them, to the fashion industry’s forefront.

NakateFall image courtesy Nakate

This fall is the company’s first time releasing several lines at once. Their designs feature boldly coloured pieces imported from Kakooge, Uganda, along with pieces with hand-crafted additions from Portland based designers Andrea Angell and Jamieson Diemer, and California based designer Selena Martino. What we love about Nakate’s jewellery is that it is primarily comprised of eco-friendly materials.

Nakate launched its first line in January of 2011 and the company supports over thirty Ugandan artisans with plans to expand their client base in rural Uganda.

“Our goal at Nakate is to partner with designers that have not been brought into the fashion industry because of their rural location or the state of their country’s economy,” Knox said. “We want to bridge the gap.”

image courtesy Nakate

Knox will return to Uganda in November where she said she plans to work with artisans individually, helping them to understand the importance of exactness and quality in their product, as well as financial management of the salary Nakate is providing to them. The company’s fall line focuses on shades of turquoise, orange and brown, colors Knox said are not only chic for fall, but celebrate the vibrant culture their pieces come from. Their pieces have been featured in magazines such as Glam Couture, Canadian Hairdress, Gladys and Elle Vietnam, among others. Nakate’s launched their fall line in late September which can be found online at, as well as in boutiques in Portland, Sacramento and Los Angeles.

Contact: Jianna Cofini, Public Relations, Nakate –

Posted in: Crafts, Fashion, Textiles