The more you give the more you get! Whenever you share with others you realise how much you have. When you give, you feel rich. We want to share with you all we have, especially our joy, strength, passion and creativity.
– Lion Base Crew X Folorunsho
Reading the philosophy of Folorunsho, a social initiative, I couldn’t help but hear the words of my grandmother echo in my ear, ‘give unto those so that you may receive.’ Folorunsho’s axiom that you don’t have to be rich in material goods to be full of love and happiness, is contributing abundantly to society with their ethical design practices. At the core of this initiative is the talent of 20 young men, called the Lion Base Crew from Sierra Leone. From a region that is limited in many resources, they plentifully lend their labour- intensive, hand-made designs and artisanal accessories to fashion brands. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed.
This past May 2012, Folorunsho teamed up with urban street brand K1x to launch DCAC Batik, a limited edition sneaker series sold exclusively at Colette, a boutique in Paris known for being well ahead of the trend curve. This gem of a project featuring the Lion Base’s lush Batik prints, challenges the notion of blind consumerism, and puts into action a new model for creative collaboration; one that fosters social change.
Folorunsho’s story began back in 2008 when founder Mallence Bart-Williams’ met these ‘street boys’ aged 14 – 20 living in the slums of Freetown, Sierra Leone Lion Base literally ‘a gutter’. Having endured a childhood that many of us could not imagine, they found strength in numbers and solace in this impoverished area. Despite being advised against socialising with ‘nuisances to society’ Bart-Williams recognised a strong brotherhood and creativity in these young men. She believed that they would flourish, if given the chance to express themselves. Aptly titled after Bart-Williams’ middle name (Folorunsho means Born Under the Eye of God in Yoruba) and still young in its development, the project has deemed itself a ‘sharity’. The coined term reflecting their ethos, as they do not collect charitable donations, but believe in the process of collective sharing.
I don’t believe in charity, as it merely creates inferiority and dependency. I believe that empowerment by providing an individual with the right tools to make changes to their lives will enable positive long lasting change. – Mallence Bart-Williams
For Bart-Williams, the goal is to build a bridge between Africa and the rest of the world enabling
exchange and synergies. With wholesale proceedings of each sneaker being returned to the Lion Base collective, change has already taken shape in the form of a new home, living expenses and school tuition; many of which are attending school and sleeping on a mattress for the first time in their lives.
This collaboration between K1X x Folorunsho has also produced a documentary and a beautiful hard cover book titled Lion Base, which comes with the purchase of each pair of sneakers. Photographed by Barron Claiborne, Mallence Bart-Williams, Shawn Peters, as well as several of the Crew, 6 Pack, The Maker and 5 Star, the book shows a raw and unfiltered look into the past lives of these young men and their dedication and commitment to producing unique Batik designed fabrics. We are also given a glimpse into the future of the Lion Base collective, one that is now marked by a sense of purpose and self-worth.
‘These beautiful and absolutely unique handmade *folorunsho products were created by Long Life, Crazy Rock, 6 Pack, Heaven Gate, Don Wanne, Figo, G-Pen, Chedder, Ta-To G, The Maker, 5 Star, Honorable, Essien, A-Fame, Game, Bullet, Base, Nice, Slim Boy, and Enzo.” – Mallence Bart-Williams
The Folorunsho Project is building on successes. Following their well received collaborations with K1X, the S|S 2011 Sierra Leone DCAC Pack series, and this past seasons’ DCAC Batik Edition sneaker. The crew joined French street artist JR‘s project, Inside Out with their portraits hung in and around Lion Base. Bart-Williams tells us that their next project set for launch later this month, July 2012 is a t-shirt collection. They’ve also joined forces with LEE denim for a bespoke jewelery meets denim shirt collaboration due out later this summer, in August 2012.
Freetown, Sierra Leone | Doing our part to combat immappancy.
Written by Stephanie Baptist.
All Images courtesy of K1x & Folorunsho.