When Sassy Spirit opened back in 2015 one of the first product lines I stocked was Raffia Baskets, hand made in Madagascar. I loved them as soon as I saw them and it turns out the Sassy Spirits love them to. Here is my guide of 13 reasons why.
They are super bright and cheerful - The artisans excel at creating baskets with bold colours and happy prints. Customers tell me all the time how just looking at the baskets make them smile. Over the years we have been able to bring our customers a cavalcade of cute animals, flowers, garden scenes, beach views, spots, dots, stars, hearts and even Hot Air Balloons. Whichever design you go for it will be bright and colourful design that draws you to it.
The baskets are lightweight – There is nothing worse than finding a bag you love only to pick it up and find that before you have put anything in it, it’s already quite heavy. Women are terrible when it comes to carrying around with us more than we need and with the average UK handbag now weighing in at a staggering 5.4lbs it’s not good for our bodies either. A small empty raffia basket in comparison weighs just a mere 300g, medium 400g and the large just 500g.
Our baskets are all Fairly Traded – The baskets are produced by local Madagascan Artisans who work from home using looms to weave the Raffia. The Artisans are regularly visited by our suppliers in person. Raffia production is recognised as a key trade for the economic stability of the Madagascan economy and in recent years the ITC (International Trade Centre) and WTC (Wildlife Conservation Society) have worked together to form initiatives focused on empowering women in the Raffia sector.
Baskets are made from renewable and sustainable raw material – Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world and is the native home of the Raffia Palm. The leaves of the Raffia Palm are the longest in the plant kingdom. The leaves when cut can be torn into long pale green fibres that are then dried in the sun. The government of Madagascar manages the harvesting of Raffia and limits the gathering of leaves between June and October to ensure regrowth of the Palm occurs each season. Our baskets are made entirely in Madagascar utilising the Raffia Palm. The bright and cheerful colours are achieved when the Raffia is dyed using local plants.
They have big bottoms – This is definitely one of those situations where having a wide bottom is a good thing. The simple but effective design and shape of the basket means the bottoms of the basket are nice and wide for their respective heights. In practical terms this means you can but the basket down without worrying about it falling over. A simple and yet very important feature!
Baskets are great travel companions – Perfect for summer holidays, many customers have told me how their Baskets are their go to bag for travelling. As we have already established they are super light and spacious so absolutely ideal when you are flying and make great carry on bags. The leather handles will easily fold down so you can store your basket under the seat in front of you and they fit nicely in an overhead locker without falling over. Once you get to your destination you cheerful and brightly coloured basket is great for ferrying about your towel, sun tan lotion and other poolside essentials. They can also be really useful for day trips when you want to take a few bits and do some shopping.
They are amazingly spacious – You won’t own a raffia basket for long before you realise what a proper little Tardis it is. Customers are regularly surprised by just how much they can get in their basket. Without the confines of hard sides the basket can be filled to the very top and will “bulge” to accommodate those few extra things you need to squeeze in. The drawstring will still close even when the basket is overfilled. You will be surprised just what a basket can hold; this Medium basket was unexpectedly filled by an inquisitive Boris the cat.
They are loved and used by all ages – Not only do the bright and cheerful designs appeal to such a wide audience but the light weight bags also make these bag attractive to young and old alike as they are so easy to carry. My 8 year old niece loves hers and has taken it away on holiday with her. Whilst the bags also prove a bit hit with older ladies to.
They have a secret pocket and drawstring tops – Each basket is fitted with a drop down top in a contrasting colour. When not in use the top of the basket simply drops down inside and hides the secrecy pocket underneath. The little pocket is made of Raffia and is hidden away at the top of the basket directly under the drop down top and is entirely hidden. To secure your basket the top is fitted with a drawstring and toggle, pull this together and squeeze the toggle to lock your basket shut and prevent would be thieves from getting their hands inside.
They come in 3 sizes – With all the same features, the Hanta style baskets come in 3 sizes; small, medium and large. Lots of ladies use both the small and medium ones as their summer handbags whilst the medium and large baskets are popular for days out and shopping trips.
They make great summer handbags – I have already highlighted that these bags are light and spacious and when paired with a Handbag Organiser, they are fantastic alternative for a summer handbag. No matter what size of basket you are using I recommend the Periea Chelsea Organiser as a great partner for your basket. This organiser will provide your basket with a combination of 14 pockets and zipped sections so you can have the structure of a handbag with the versatility of your basket. The organiser can be lifted in and out easily, allowing you to find what you are looking for and swap bags easily with no fuss. I often take a medium basket out with me, I have my Chelsy organiser in the bottom with all my handbag essentials but space above it in the basket to fit in other things. Even with a small basket the organiser fits perfectly inside and drawstring top closes to provide additional security.
Baskets make great storage solutions – Home crafters love these baskets and I get a lot of ladies buying them to keep their knitting, crochet or embroidery in. The easy access means no matter where you are in your pattern it’s simple to just fold away your project and tuck it into your basket. Leave your wide bottomed basket next to your favourite chair and don’t worry about it getting knocked over, everything is safely stored until the next time you are ready to use it.
They will last you longer than you think – I now have 6 raffia baskets, not because I have broken 5 of them but because I have fallen in love with them and use them so regularly for all the things described above. One thing I repeatedly hear from customers though is their surprise and pleasure in how long their baskets last. It’s sad but we no longer buy things expecting them to last very long and clearly my shoppers approach their basket purchase with this mindset. I think that they expect them to last a summer, fall apart and then be in the bin by Autumn. This is simply not the case, look after your Raffia and it will look after you, bringing you many years of cheerful colour and enjoyment.
A big thank you to all the Sassy Spirits that have shared their basket photo’s with me. I have been so pleased that you have loved this product line as much as I have and I look forward to seeing many more pictures of you and your baskets travelling the world.
Thanks for reading.