Archivi tag: africa

GINJAN & the success story of two talented brothers

Ginjan, Mohammed and Ibrahim are the characters of this African-American success, and the moment you get to know the brothers, you gonna like them for sure!


Let’s take a step back: Ginjan is an African drink – made of, above all, organic ginger- brought to New York and Long Island by Mohammed and Ibrahim, who worked for years to find the perfect match and create a winning recipe. Ginjan it is not just ginger made like the original African recipe drunk for thousands of years and also by the young brothers, but it is wisely mixed -with the precious suggestions of mommy!-. It has pineapple, lemon, vanille and anise, making a wonderful fresh and lightly spicy drink for summer, and if warmed up, an enjoyable healthy infusion for winter.

We spent a wonderful evening with Ibrahim discovering Harlem and the history behind Ginjan.

When we asked him where did they get that idea from, he told us that they have been thinking about it for a long time. But interestingly, even tho many people they knew spoke about the idea of commercializing it nobody did it until the brothers decided to take that step! At the end of the day, what always makes the difference is resolution.

Ibrahim is incredible: with a great serenity and a contagious passion, he tell us about future projects, the idea of making something good and building a sustainable business. This is the kind of future we also imagine, social responsibility and commitment to what we do.

Ibrahim and Mohammed were born in Guinea and moved to New York years later were they were raised. After some experiences in Europe, their idea was to build a business back in the US, involving also their African “home”. It was not easy and not fast; it took a lot of work and many lost hours of sleep to achieve the dream… and it’s not over yet!

The goal of the project is to involve local companies in Africa and cooperate with them in the productive process to create work and to help the economy. It is a different concept, a new course, the prospect to build a well-founded business where every part of it can take advantages, even the weaker party.

As Ibrahim told us, “Our purpose is to “brand” Africa, or perhaps I should say “re-brand” Africa. A lot of products from around the world have such a distinct and positive association with their place of origin that it in and of itself adds tremendous value to the underlying commodity. Think coffee and Italy, where coffee doesn’t even grow yet nothing is more synonymous with good coffee than Italy. In Africa, it’s just a place where raw materials get extracted to be refined elsewhere, we’d like to help make that change in the food space for starters. To be clear, money is absolutely crucial in our business and any venture really, as it is one of the easiest ways to “keep score” on what you’re doing.

We’re not looking to make money for money’s sake.

If at the end of it all we end up with a financially lucrative business that is selling terrible products to the world, that would be a major moral failure on our part; we’ll avoid this at all cost.”

Watch the video to discover more about Ginjan:


“We also have a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) component to our business relating to sanitation; the flip-side to the food industry. This issue is near and dear to our hearts, as we, the founding brothers, grew up less than a mile from the largest waste disposal site in Guinea’s capital city of Conakry. So, we started an initiative to help fund startups working to solve the waste management problem in Africa, starting with Guinea. This is not a charity, as we believe waste management can be a lucrative business, so we invest a portion of our funds in small companies addressing the problem. One of the measures of our success is therefore the total tonnage of waste managed by the enterprises we support and invest in.”

In your opinion Ibrahim, what does it take to become successful and what would you suggest to someone who wants to start a business?

Here are thoughts that are spontaneously occurring to me now:

  • First and foremost, you need to solve a problem people actually have or provide something their hearts will truly desire.
  • Second, It will take much longer and be much more expensive than you think.
  • Finally, you need to take care of yourself mentally and physically, otherwise you’ll end up rich and completely destroyed or worse, your business will fail and you’ll be completely destroyed. Work out, sleep, and love something and/or someone 🙂

More about Ginjan here

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…you have nothing to do now but to try it! 😉




“Sometime ago I was forced, for health reasons, to stay locked up in hospitals for a long time and from there I realized the importance of being alive and staying in the open air, watching the colors of a sunrise or a sunset, feel the wind that caresses your face just for a minute and enjoying the scents that only the nature of this land can give you, even from a window.”


Tell us something about you and Isula Design!

My name is Francesca, I live and work in a small seaside village in the district of Sassari (in the North Sardinia). I like everything that has color, form and tradition. I am a nature and animals lover, I live with the fact that I love my dog Sunshine, who taught me to love his world!

I love to walk by the sea as well as in the countryside and  I like stars, the moon, the sun, but also rain and melancholy. I consider myself a very (perhaps too) sensitive and emotional person, full of life. I like to smile and the smile on the face of the people I come close to sends me endless positivity! I am a natural and colorful food lover, as fruit and vegetables are. I think that in life there is always a lot to learn from other people, with humility and respect.

I graduated two years ago as a seamstress / modeler at the School of Art and Fashion in Sassari, for me a dream that came true and I want to continue creating with my style “SardAfrican”, because every woman wants externalize what’s inside, being free to feel colors and by being unique!

Can you tell us more about the ISULA PROJECT?

The project Isula design and the choice of the name was born out of this land, Sardinia, that is very close to me. It is my island that commands my heart, which offers different colors and shapes, but also distant Africa, which is also close in a sense!

Where do you find the inspiration?

The design of the clothes like the colors chosen for the fabrics are a reflection of a deep sense of belonging to my island, endless source of my inspiration. In each piece I try to interpret, with great respect and modernity, the ancient traditions of Sardinia and the bright colors and distinctive landscapes that this land gives to me. Mixing my Sardinians immense passion with the ancient soul and freedom of the African continent, the wonderful and colorful countrywomen, my collection becomes a perfect combination of ancient traditions and modernity, memories of deserts and unreachable mountains, open seas and splendid colors.

Each dress is the story of a mood, each color a feeling. Each collection is an old music.

Where was your passion born?

The passion for the art began as a child, growing quickly with a strong aesthetic sense towards clothing. As a teenager, I began to wish for a look that could fully represent my personality. Finding no garment that reflected my desires, exploded in me the urge to create by myself the wardrobe of my dreams.

Without ever having sewn, driven by a lively inspiration, I bought my first piece of cloth and alone, with the sewing machine of a dear friend, I created my first skirt. Driven by this magical inspiration, I created a garment after the other, with no experience, no pattern, just by looking, touching the fabric and getting carried away by instinct. My friends, affected by the visionary forms and evocative colors, asked me to create dresses for commission.

As if I had done nothing all my life long, I began to study by myself all methods to tailor, to improve day by day the quality of my clothes.

The requests came from people like me, who wanted to wear one of my dresses, out from the usual style, and they increase more and more and at some point it came natural the creation of a brand that identifies perfectly with my style.

I had the impression that nature plays a really important role in your world and for your fashion…

Oh yeah, I love to talk and listen to nature! Sometime ago I was forced, for health reasons, to stay locked up in hospitals for a long time and from there I realized the importance of being alive and stay in the open air, watching the colors of a sunrise or a sunset, feel the wind that caresses your face just for a minute and enjoying the scents that only the nature of this land can give you, even from a window. I think there is no better place to take photos for my clothes and feel in tune with it!

What does your logo represents?

The logo represents for me eternal freedom.

In fact the inspiration comes from the Egyptian key of life, which is also known as the Ankh, or the Egyptian cross Ankh. It is a T cross crowned by a circle, an oval and in some representations, by a snake that twists (the serpent is the symbol of wisdom and if chasing its tail forming a circle is a symbol of eternity). The form of the ankh remembers a key and that is also the reason why it is called “Key of Life” or “Key of the Nile”. Symbolic representation of life and survival after death, but it has been interpreted as a free butterfly, with Sardinian spikes.

The message is therefore to feel free, colorful, feminine, rich in tradition, but above all unique and special wearing my dresses!




NOH NEE, Dirndl à l’ Africaine

In Munich, Glockenbackviertel is the most famous neighborhood where many fashion designers and artists in general are based. Historically the favourite location of gays (which is often still a synonymous with creativity!) it is nowadays the best place to find new trends and enlightenment.

Now, imagine the colour and power of Africa, mixed with the deep tradition of Germany: this is Noh Nee[1], a shop close to Sendlinger Tor (Sendling Gate), in the south of the historic old town area of the city.

When we met in Glockenback to talk about Noh Nee, we were overwhelmed by the passion and energy of Rahmée Wetterich, one of the founders of this business. She started to tell us about a new App for tourists in which also Noh Nee is involved, and went on talking about the amazing recent experience in Brussels (Ethno Tendance Fashion Weekend Brussels 2014). Noh Nee is also in the “Museum der Kulturen” in Basel until 2019[2].

So, Noh Nee is really everywhere, or better said, in every place it should be.

The project is more than clothes, it is more about the mix of cultures and the passion for fashion, the influence of Africa with the lightness of the improvisation: we can say it because Noh Nee was somehow achieved by chance, the result of a great passion for creation, in particular for fashion.

The heart and head of the project is Marie Darouiche, the one who designs the clothes, since she has always been dealing with fashion, the person who decides to melt the tradition of the dirndl with the style from the ’50. This was made possible and started through the project of “Colour Mix of Africa”, an idea (and an exposition) that comes from Rahmée, her sister (as she explained us, it has nothing really to do with colours but about the influence of different cultures).

Now, just try to imagine an expensive kitchen and some multicolored dresses spread everywhere and the feeling you have everytime you bump into something completely stranger: you become curious and you get excited. That is how I imagine the reaction of the people who were there and met for the first time (without knowing it) at NOH NEE. It was 2010.

Since 2011, Cornelia Hobbhahn also became part of the project. At the moment Noh Nee does not mean only dirndl, but also slacks, shoes, coats and more… The manufactoring is in Passau (the “Three Rivers City”), Bavaria.

The magic of the dirndl is that it does not matter how big or tall people are, a dirndl fits everyone! It is easy to realize it just by looking at the many photos that Rahmée keeps in the shop; pictures sent by people who got married with a Noh Nee creation, or went to a gala, or simply to Oktoberfest…

Let’s talk about textile. Maybe some people think, as myself, that they come from Africa… it is not really true! I mean, they are african samples but most of them come from Holland. More than 100 years ago  the first prints came from Indonesia to Europe and since then they are constantly edited: some themes are already 150 years old. There are circa 270 colours.

The fabric is really special, hard and difficult to work, unlike what we see, for example, everywhere.
Often many of them come from China, and are not original (Rahmée gave us a tiny tipp: you can recognize the original one because it is printed on both sides. The colour, in a manner of speaking, goes through the textile).

Furthermore, they revisit the textile they buy from them to create new designs through a process of development. Marie always has to find new ideas and patterns to match everything.
As Rahmée said, when they go to purchase the textile, in the same moment she has one in her hands she already knows if it has potential, and what it can be used for.
She talks about “visualize”, a kind of seer who can see into the future of fabrics.

Everything is special and privileged, also the wonderful pieces that they found are limited… and that is also another reason why they are so unique.

Explanation for such big success? It’s the right solution for people who are looking for a new fashion style to wear again, or for the first time, such a traditional dress like a dirndl.

The format of Noh Nee is different because it is new, powerful, multicultural and gives emancipation to this bavarian (but not only) costume.

But, above all, it worked because of the passion they put in it: to hear Rahmée  is like seeing a ball of fire, not only because of her enthusiasm and competence, but because she loves the project and she puts extraordinary effort in it.

It is easy to be infected from the feeling of love she feels when she talks about Noh Nee!

Noh Nee, literally “a godsend”, is also engaged with a project called: “Education for Girls in Benin“.

The shop is in Hans-Sachs-Straße 2, Munich.



The adventures of Nicolas & Julia

Julia Ibarra and Nicolás Marino are a couple of fearless travelers who crossed half of the world by bike, with lightweight luggage and their shelter tent. They already crossed all of Asia through jungles, experiencing wild animals, being hosted by tribes and enjoying a lot of new cultures, food, flavours, skies, stunning beaches, and millions of new sensations that will stay in their hearts for ever.

They met each other in Chengdu, China when Nico was working as an architect and Julia was working as a model and teaching English in a university besides studying Chinese. Their lives changed when they decided to join one of the most important trips they ever experienced, leaving behind what was ordinary for them. They embarked on an adventure shedding many conveniences of the modern life, to have a long and low budget journey through years, learning from fascinating new worlds.

Why have you decided to start this journey? Was it hard to make this decision?

Nico has had this trip in mind for a few years. He started to travel by bike since 2006 when he cycled from Tehran to Shanghai in 10 months. When we met the idea of a trip like this fascinated me. At the end of 2012 I decided to stop what I was doing and joined him. Let me tell you that first, to let go of everything you know and leave for an adventure is not easy but it is indeed exciting and eventually gives you true rewards.

Where are you travelling right now? How many countries have you crossed already?

Right now we are in the north of Ethiopia. We have explored China, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mongolia, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, India, Egypt and Sudan.

21000 km covered until today

How did people respond when you arrived to their villages by bicycle?

The bicycle opens several doors. The people come to us chatting about how difficult the journey is or the weather, but it depends on the country. In some places the people open the doors of their houses and involve you warmly in their lives. In other countries, they are more reserved or suspicious.

Do you ask the people to allow you to sleep or camp somewhere? How do you communicate with them?

We try to camp whenever we can, always trying to be safe. In countries like Indonesia, for example, they didn’t let us camp, they always gave us a room in their houses. In India we were in rural zones where was not advisable to camp so we were hosted by the locals or in small hotels that we found on the way. In Ethiopia we tried to camp always close to people because in the area where were travelling there were recent appearances of hyenas or leopards. In a lot of countries like the Philippines, Nepal or India the communication was not a problem because a lot of them could speak English. In Mongolia the interaction was almost by signals. Indeed, a smiley or a bad face are part of an universal language recognized in all the world. If one person wants to communicate in order to ask basic things, he or she can express himself easily. We also always try to learn some words of the country we are in.

What is your source of income? Where did you find the warmest people?

We have some savings and Nico used to sell his photos often. In Japan we were selling photos of Nico on the street and that worked really well, we also made a deal in a hostel; we worked for 3 hours in exchange of accommodation. In Indonesia and Sudan we were living with locals and there were days when we didn’t spend any money. In Mongolia a lot of people invited us to lunch or dinner. The warmest people we found were in these three countries: Mongolia, Indonesia and Sudan.

What do mostly attract you while you travel?

What I am most interested in is the direct contact with different cultures, see firsthand how people live and to learn from them.

Since the moment that you got further away from the city and into the countryside, without hotels… What do you do for showers or clean clothes?

Always depends on the country, the weather, water availability, etc. In the tropics it is easy because we can always find a lot of water and take a shower with bucket is not a problem. In Mongolia, for example, in the steppe area there were a lot of rivers but the water was completely frozen! In the Gobi or Sahara we spent several days without a shower.

How long the trip is going to be?

Our plan is to end the trip in Australia in 2016 and settle down, but it is only a plan in our mind. Let’s see how things fit as we get closer to that date. At the moment we want to travel around all Africa.

When was the most complicated part of the trip? When have you met a risk for your life?

So far Ethiopia was the most problematic. It’s a safe country but in several non-urban areas the kids found fun in harassing us. We didn’t receive the hospitality and kindness from the people that we felt in other places.

Nico’s blogs are (spanish) and (english). What was the reason for creating them?

He started his blog to share his adventures with family and friends. Today it has become something bigger and is followed by thousands of people around the world. Having a blog has brought him great satisfaction in knowing that many people get to enjoy the world through what he writes and his stunning photography.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to organize such a trip?

First of all do not idealize the experience; traveling by bike is a mentally and physically tough experience. It takes a longer or shorter adjustment period, but once that is overcome, the rewards are really priceless.

Tell us the best anecdotes of the trips through Asia and Africa.

There are so many, it’s hard to choose:

In West Timor, for example, I got sick with dengue and a woman called Sinema appeared from nowhere. She was an angel who welcomed us into her home with her wonderful family and she made anything possible to see me recovered and  healthy as soon as possible.

In Java we met a guy who asked us if we could show him how we ‘make babies’, harmless of course, but the humour of the proposal was not lost on us.

In Japan a stranger took us to lunch, he bought us food for dinner and gave us 50$ because he was fascinated by our trip and always wanted to have done something like this.

In Mongolia, in the middle of the steppe, we drank fermented mare’s milk in a Mongolian yurt with 15 Mongolian drunks celebrating I don’t know what, but we did laugh a lot.

In Egypt we met a really interesting cairota homosexual. He and his friends made ​​us see what it is like to be part of going against the tide as an oppressed minority within a ‘prohibited’ counterculture, but much more common than many would believe.

In Khartoum and Delhi we arrived as guests and left with two new families.

Do you think you’ve grown spiritually in this journey? Do you think your mind has widened somehow?

The understanding and experience that we are all one and that we are all equal was first and foremost. Now I judge a lot less and I do my best to understand the person I have in front of me with more empathy.

What are the three destinations that have changed your life and why?

Mongolia, Sudan and Indonesia have shown me that at some point in the West we have long distanced from each other. In these 3 countries one can stand in the door of a stranger and end up living with them as one of them. Another world is possible and exists.

What health precautions do you take before traveling or while traveling?

We have a first aid kit with some basic medicines for malaria, diarrhea or fever for when we are ill and in a very remote area. We’ve bought everything when we arrived in Africa. Before this we had nothing and luckily we did not need anything. We always try to eat and sleep well so that is why we don’t get sick.

What  would you say to those people who dream of traveling as well but do not dare?

A journey like this one is unique in life. If anyone has the ability or chance to do something like that, he or she should, change the routine or remain in your comfort zone. You can never regret doing something like this because what this brings you is so valuable that you will never be the same again.

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Interview by Anabel Garcia Ramon. A special thanks to Katie Goldsmith.

All the pictures are property of Nicolas Marino.