Let’s get right to it by answering the famous question, “What does Letasi mean?” Be warned though, we are going to go on a short history and geography lesson.
Letasi is a word in my native language Lugbara. We are a tribe located in the West Nile Region (North East) of the beautiful country Uganda. Depending on the context and the scenario, Letasi simply means “with love”. So going back to the variations based on the context it could be:
Made with love and care
Done with love and passion
With that in mind and relating it to myself as a creative, this word really sums up who I am, what I do and why I do what I do.
Letasi Design Studio first started in 2012, I really wanted to have a place to channel my creativity through design and crafting. Even though, I was a graduate architect at that time, my urge to explore other design niches had always been unavoidable. This is why the design studio part of the name was perfect. As a design studio, I can be able to explore as many areas of design as I could.
At the time of starting the studio, fashion and apparel design was a growing trend in East Africa. There was certainly a movement around using African fabrics like Kitenge, Kanga and wax prints to make more modern outfits that could be worn by anyone. East Africans were getting a new perspective on how these African fabrics can be trendy hence eliminating the past perceptions of these fabrics being for the old fashioned and rather conservative people. This therefore became my big focus and starting point. However, just like everything I put my mind to I always lke to add a little twist to it. Partly because I love a good challenge but also because I figured if I was going to get in to this niche, I ought to make do something different to it.
Some images of the first Letasi Design Studio (2013) designs using African wax printed fabrics.
I wanted to take that love and pride that most east Africans had when they wear African fabric to a whole new level by showing East Africa and the international market that we can do so much more with the fabrics that we have tagged our own and create a market that goes beyond the ordinary use it has been known to be and make something extraordinary. Letasi's clothing selections and exclusive personal style services, which include a detailed style assessment, will ensured that our customers are well dressed.
The Game changer/Turning point …
Enter Agatha and her beautiful batiks in 2018.
We have all had our moments when social media has greatly impacted our lives in one way or another. (If it hasn't happened to you yet, I can promise you the time will come.) As I was casually browsing through Instagram one afternoon while I was at home in the UK nursing my little baby Joseph, I noticed a one of Agatha’s post of a batik fabric piece. I quickly, then went to her profile page (@aunt_k_batiki) and started to see all the other fabrics she posted singly. I was immediately in love with everything I saw. Admittedly, I had never seen fabrics like this ever so I immediately messaged her to start a chat about what type of fabric it was. She was really kind and happy to tell me all about it. Generously answering my endless number of questions.
Some of the first set of Batiki fabrics from Agatha
We had our family trip back to East Africa planned later that year so I immediately reserved some of the beautiful batik fabrics and made an appointment to meet her when I arrived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. What a precious moment that was, one I will forever hold close to my heart. Because it was on that day, in that moment, I knew that I wanted to the world to know about batikers like Agatha and let the world see the beautiful batiks that they are making that are so distinctly and accurately East African. It was this day that that I committed to representing East African batiki letasi(with Love) through Letasi Design Studio.
And the rest, well isn’t history but it certainly is what you see today and the journey I am beyond excited about and very much looking forward to sharing with as many people as possible. I hope you will continue to journey with us as we continue to share and touch lives of both the artisans and those who get to experience the final product of the batik fabrics.