Kenya’s premier manufacturer of luxury handmade bags, safari style luggage and accessories, Sandstorm Kenya, are made just outside Nairobi. to the same specification as the luxury safari tents that made their name. They now have a reputation in both Kenya and overseas for making such luxury product. You will find that each bag has been meticulously cut from a single piece of material to ensure the best quality, and that to ensure a long lifetime of use each bag is then faithfully assembled by hand.
The company, Sandstorm Kenya was established in Nairobi initially to make luxury tents for East Africa’s leading safari camps and being encapsulated by Kenya’s amazing, even, breathtaking beauty they went on to utilise these skills and the same use of materials to create a range of travel bags and accessories to offer contemporary safari-grade a best descriptive would be “timeless styles”.
In the production of their bags they use only the finest East African materials such as Kenyan cowhides which are selected individually and tanned using a traditional “pull-up” technique which means that they actually improve with age. They use also camel hides which are derived from sustainable farms in Northern Kenya’s. As well as these hides they also use fabulous water-resistant safari-grade canvas which is made from 100% cotton that is grown, milled and manufactured in neighbouring East African country Tanzania; and we can’t overlook the softest cotton drill lining they use inside the bags to make sure the final product is all Kenyan/East African sourced.
Sandstorm’ product is made by the unique skills of the local craftsmen and women which are predominantly from the Luo tribe whom are from the shores of Lake Victoria and which make the final product unique. The Luo people built up a strong reputation for detailed work in their stitching and finishing while they initially worked on fishing nets or weaving. You will find that this ‘slow fashion’ way of working sets this business apart from their competitors in the travel market where travel goods are mass-produced.
Sandstorm Kenya proudly say that they are a:
“…a Kenyan business that is supporting local East African communities through an unwavering commitment to making products of the highest quality by hand: the authentic African safari-grade.”
You can find their factory at Jamuhuri showground which sits along Ngong Road in Nairobi. With forty members of staff it is not a large operation but the quality and time that goes into their work is amazing to give such a great result. The areas they work in including
- Cutting of the material (leather or canvas)
- Stitching or sewing together the different parts of a bag.
- Finishing and quality control.
- ….and more
Being set in a wildlife setting, for Sandstorm Kenya it makes pure sense that ethics and social responsibility is high on their agenda for business.
“Our aim is to operate at all times on firm ethical principles and as a company we take our responsibilities to our employees, and our relationships with our suppliers very seriously.
But we recognise that an independent point of view is always going to be more convincing than anything we could say ourselves, and that’s why we recently commissioned Africa Now to conduct a thorough ethical audit to ensure we comply with the Ethical Trading Initiative base code”
As well as this they support The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy which is home to many rare wildlife species, including black rhino and the world’s largest remaining population of Grevy’s Zebra, by making a contribution for every bag sold.
You can purchase their bags on-line but if in Kenya you can shop at up to 4 of their retail outlets there. They also invite you to visit their new shop opened earlier this summer at the Junction Mall, on Ngong Road. As well as the current stores at the Village Market, at Lenana Forest Centre (which is also where their offices are) as well as down at the coast at Diani Beach Shopping Centre.
Our favourite is definitely the Long Weekender bags. Beautiful quality made bags that will last for years without a doubt. We encourage you to also check them out for your travel bag requirements. let us know your favourite piece from their collection.
Author: Jacqueline Shaw