Last year, we discovered Tropikala, a fantastic small business that makes stylish lampshades using colourful and unique African wax print fabrics.
Tropikala’s handcrafted lampshades are sold worldwide via Etsy and Paper Plane, an independent shop showcasing high-quality makers in Bristol, UK, where the company is based.
Tropikala’s aim is to bring life and colour into people’s living spaces. The textiles they use to make their lampshades are sourced from around the world.
Like us, they are proud to support local textile industries and small businesses in Africa through their fabric sourcing. All their homeware crafts are made using 100% authentic, high-quality Ankara fabrics made in Ghana and Nigeria, and their stonewashed linens are from Lithuania.
Learn how you can tell the difference between authentic and counterfeit African wax print fabrics.
Here is a selection of Tropikala’s brightly coloured lampshades handmade using our authentic African wax print fabrics that are produced in Nigeria using 100% locally grown cotton:
Tropikala’s lampshades handmade using Kitenge’s Yellow Pineapple African Print Fabric
Tropikala lampshade handmade using Kitenge’s Yellow/Red/blue Peacock African Print Fabric
Tropikala lampshades handmade using Kitenge’s Yellow/Cream Shells African Print Fabric
We thought it would be great to interview the Founder of Tropikala, Ben Melarickas, to learn more about the enterprise he started from the love of African wax print fabrics…
Q1. What inspired you to start your lampshade-making business?
Tropikala began from my love of African fabrics and looking for a creative outlet to balance my 9-5 office job.
I’d hunt high and low for exciting designs and prints – in London, online, and through contacts at a charity I used to volunteer with that work in Northern Ghana.
As my personal collection of fabrics grew, the idea to make lampshades seemed a great way to share my growing treasure trove of textiles, with the aim to bring life and colour into people’s homes.
Q2. What do you love most about African wax print fabrics?
I love how unique wax print fabrics are and their energetic personality. I absolutely love colour and the creativity and artistry in wax print patterns and designs.
Q3. Why is it important to you to source authentic African print fabrics made in Africa?
There are so many imitation and counterfeit textiles out there and I feel it’s really important to support local textiles industries and buy genuine African wax print fabrics.
The quality of the fabric and choice of authentic designs is also super important, and this is another reason I am very conscious of where I source textiles from.
Q4. How long does it take to make each lampshade by hand?
This depends on the size of the lampshade, but on average it takes about 30 minutes to make one lampshade.
Q5. Where do you see Tropikala in 5 years time? Do you have any exciting plans for the future?
I am finally looking to have a website live very soon and am hoping to launch some new products, including fabric plant pots and cushions.
I would love to expand my product range in the future with consciously sourced items that promote and support traditional textile techniques and industries.
Q6. Do you have any advice for people who are looking to start their own creative design business?
The internet opens up so many opportunities to turn an interest into a side hustle and beyond. I can’t rate Etsy highly enough as a platform to start selling your own creative items on and there is a wealth of advice and information to get you started.
You can currently get 10% discount off Tropikala’s lampshades in their Etsy shop. Take a look!
While you’re here why not visit our authentic African print fabric online store and find inspiration for your next sewing project. Kitenge fabrics are so versatile and can be used to make pretty much anything.
Learn how to sew with African print fabrics and discover our top tips.
We’ve got lots of great African interior design ideas on our blog to help you get creative and add some colour to your homes!SHOP ALL FABRICS
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