About usHow it all started

"I started Tribal Textiles more than 20 years ago now, in the "Munyamadzi" area - a game management area between the two National Parks. The textiles started as a "hobby" as something to do out of the small Safari camp I was living in. Having an artistic background, I experimented with various techniques and dyes, with limited resources, and Tribal Textiles was slowly born. It became my life line and companion in this extremely remote area, where there was very little other contact with friends and family.  I became so engrossed in the textiles, loving the rawness and being inspired by the wildlife around me. Eight years passed before I realized that if Tribal was going to get any bigger and become a serious business then I would need to move to a more accessible area. So I moved 120 kms south to Mfuwe, where there was a little more development, telephones, power, one tar road, and a tourist airport - this was the area that served all the safari camps, there was also a small friendly community that would help support me, my growing staff and the textiles over the next few years.

Any time I was not mixing up new paint combinations I was busy researching traditional African designs from a variety of source books, locally drawn paintings on village huts, or just from the surrounding wildlife ; everything became an inspiration. As the business grew so did the workforce and I was able to start handing over some of the drawing and painting to a select few. Moses Musa, now the Workshop Manager, and I have worked side by side from the beginning. With little or no formal educational but for his years of experience Moses now, 20 years on, leads our workforce of over 100 Zambians. Some artists draw the designs directly on the fabric (a highly skilled technique taking years to perfect) whilst many others paint, sew or are somehow involved in the lengthy process of producing one of these painted pieces of fabric.”

by Gillie Lightfoot, Director & Owner of Tribal Textiles

Gillie Lightfoot Tribal bicyle