I’ve mentioned before that my home isn’t the sort of place that you could feature in a magazine. There’s no grand design, no great theme tying the rooms together (and very few clear surfaces against which to take decent blog photos). That might change some day – I’ve still got my mind’s eye on a properly retro, 1950s-style diner kitchen – but for the moment, if I see something I like, I tend to just buy it with very little thought for how it will accentuate or bring out the best in anything else in the room.
TK Maxx is the perfect place to indulge this jumble sale aesthetic and their latest colourful collaboration immediately caught my magpie eye.
Since 2008, TK Maxx and sister brand Homesense have been working with 12 communities in the Rwenzori region of western Uganda to help send children to school. It’s a region where a history of war, violence and political unrest has resulted in an entire generation missing out on education, and where few parents can afford to send their children to what few, under-resourced schools there are in the remote mountainous parts of the country in particular.
At first, the companies worked with Save the Children to build classrooms and teachers’ houses, supply educational materials and clean toilet facilities – but then, in 2011, they established the Rwenzori Sustainable Trade programme. Working with 6,000 families, the programme provides parents with a sustainable means of increasing their income so that they can afford to send their children to school. The programme includes the production of coffee, cocoa, cotton and craft products, a proportion of which are then imported to the UK for sale in TK Maxx and Homesense stores.
And the programme is working: according to figures from TK Maxx, primary school enrolment among children in the 12 communities supported by the programme has increased from 53% to 94%.
The products available now in TK Maxx and Homesense stores and online via the TK Maxx website include hand-woven platters (£9.99 – £12.99), vases and lidded baskets; and serving spoons (£5.99 – £9.99) and bowls carved from the Ankole cow horn that is a byproduct of the Ugandan beef industry. The distinctive cow horn products are smooth and lightweight, almost plasticky in feel, and I like the fact that they are carved from resources that could otherwise have gone to waste. The woven products come in a range of distinctive colours, and the ones that I saw in store also carried tags with the names of the women who had made them. It was a nice touch: one that really made you feel as though you were purchasing a handmade product that could really make a difference to somebody’s life.
I picked up the brightest basket I could find, plus a set of lightweight rice serving spoons, on a recent visit to the Glasgow Argyle Street TK Maxx store. They had plenty of stock on my visit, but as with everything stocked by TK Maxx once it’s gone, it’s gone – so get down to your local store sharpish if you want your pick of these lovely, sustainable products that can really do some good.
Plus, once you’ve eaten all your fruit you’ll find that the fruitbowl makes a perfectly-proportioned cat bed.
This post contains PR samples, but all views are my own and unbiased.