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Good Design That Brings The Faraway Closer to Home

Good design? It’s a principle that invites exploration – just take a look around NYC this week. For Courtney Poole and Laren Fitzgerald, founders of Rose and Fitzgerald, that exploration took them all they way to Kampala, Uganda. Inspired by the region’s rich artisan tradition, they began exploring how to merge their aesthetic with age old methods, using design to build a bridge to the new culture in which they found themselves. What emerged: a beautiful hybrid of the faraway and the familiar, as well as an ethical business model that today provides a sustainable source of income for Uganda’s artisans. Here, Courtney and Laren tell the GOOD story of their business and why sometimes you have to leave home to find where the heart truly is.

What’s the GOOD STORY behind your business?

We left California and moved to Uganda, Africa in 2012.  After being exposed to talented artisans, Courtney began designing products to decorate our home in a way that would compliment our style – mixing coastal roots with new-found materials and traditional handiwork. With every piece, constructed with unmistakable care by local artisans, we began to realize they were truly special. Thus began our dream – to share this beautiful part of the world with others who value unique, handmade products from natural materials, produced by passionate artisans.

Fill in the blank: GOOD things happen when…People are fearlessly authentic.

How do you create impact?

Through our ethics. We invest in small businesses, employ local artisans, value the handmade, use local materials, and believe in quality over quantity. We take pride in using beautiful, natural and local materials for the creation of our products. Our goal is to keep as much of the supply chain within Uganda and Africa as possible in order to maximize our social impact on the economy.

What’s one good thing you’ve discovered lately?

Recently we had the privilege of befriending a man named Emanuel de Merode, director of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Emmanuel is a conservationist and humanitarian of the highest order. Since 2008 he’s worked tirelessly at times in danger of his life to protect Virunga, a 7800 sq. kilometer World Heritage Site. We learned about Virunga’s projects which span from gorilla and wildlife protection to supporting widows and children of rangers that have been killed in the line of duty.