Every piece in the Queen Alaffia collection is a one of a kind work of art handmade at the Alaffia Artisan Center in Sokodé, Togo, West Africa. The center rehabilitates women who fell prey to the sex trade because of extreme poverty and circumstances beyond their control. Queen Alaffia offers a stable income and respectable environment so the women will never again need to sell their bodies to provide for themselves and their families.
Kafui, a Queen Alaffia artisan, dropped out of school after the 7th grade and joined a seamstress apprentice program. She was able to open a shop, but was the victim of several break-ins and thefts. Kafui resorted to prostitution in order to support herself and her two children. She has had an extremely difficult life; most of her family is no longer alive and she became pregnant when she was just a teenager after being raped. In spite of the hardships, she is working to better her life and vows she “will never go back” to prostitution, as Queen Alaffia has given her an opportunity she never imagined.
The Queen Alaffia artisans make each piece by hand using traditional techniques and sewing skills. The process of creating each item can take from 2.25 - 8 hours and includes the following steps:
- Preparation, Dyeing, & Wax Batiking
Queen Alaffia pieces are made with both printed and Batik fabrics. The Batik fabrics are printed by hand at the Alaffia Artisan Center. A stamp is used to apply wax to the fabric before it is dyed, creating the desired pattern. The fabrics are then cut and sewn to create each piece. Finally, zippers, tags, and buttons are added.