“As Hadeda grows, it’s important to us that we stay connected with our customers,” says Co-founder Kate Kindersley. “That you know the story of how our family-run business came about, and how we work with the exceptional artisans who’ve crafted the pieces for your homes. When people buy something from Hadeda – they become a part of something – of the story behind the product; the who made it, the where and the why.”
In launching Hadeda (pronounced haa-dee-dah), Kate and Alex set out on a simple mission: to support as many artisans and communities as possible through the beauty of hand-crafted homewares. After living in Cape Town and Tanzania, they fell in love with the craftsmanship and exceptionally talented artisans they met along the way. “From traditional techniques passed down through generations, to modern design, there are so many streams of talented designers in Africa. We knew we needed to share the magic, wonder, tradition and excitement of discovering these talented makers with others, and a few years later, Hadeda came to be.”
Q1: How did you two meet?
I grew up with one foot in England, complete with a very British family, and one foot in South Africa with a whole different life. I had a South African passport and felt a yearning to go back, so I picked up and left London. We met at 25 and connected over a love of Africa.
Q2: What were you doing before Hadeda?
I was working in PR interiors and Alex was in Logistics. After spending some time in Cape Town, we decided to move to Tanzania. Our love for the continent took us out of our comfort zones and on an adventure, and we were lucky enough to be able to work from there.
Q2: What was living in Tanzania like?
It was an unforgettable experience – we were living in a very rural setting with no electricity, surrounded by mountains. We would wake up to cows outside our bedroom window, Kilimanjaro rising up in the distance. We were there for around 4 years and moved back to the UK when our first child Archer was born.
Q3: When did the idea for Hadeda spark?
When we were living in Tanzania, I was working in interiors and sourcing pieces for homes in the UK. I was so inspired by the level of craftsmanship, the artisans and their stories, and realised there was a gap in the market. My clients were so impressed by the designs and the quality, it sparked something in me and I knew I had to start a business.
Q4: Then how did it all happen?
I was at home with two babies and Alex was travelling a lot and I could not get the idea out of my head. One day I was reading an African fable to my son about a South African bird called the Hadeda. He could not stop saying it and in that moment I knew it was the name of the company I wanted to start. It took a lot of time and confidence building to get there, and when Alex quit his job we finally took the plunge. Having worked in the industry, I’d already built up the right connections so it evolved quite naturally from there!
Q5: Walk us through building the brand?
I wanted to make sure I knew exactly who was making the products and ensure I was supporting artisans through our work. I visited different countries, speaking to the makers and building relationships as I went about curating our first collection.
When it came to the branding, I worked with a close friend Lucy who is also South African, and we built the identity together. “I wanted Hadeda's visual language to be modular and interchangeable, and as diverse as its product offerings,” says Lucy. “Inspired by the natural forms of Southern Africa, I hand-painted a series of symbols, which can be swapped out and combined in each form of visual communication and which hold their own significance for the brand. The palette was informed by the colours of rich African soil and flora.”
Once we were all set, we shot the first collection at a friend’s house and launched in June 2019 after the birth of our third child. Overwhelmed at the responses, we immediately began to take on more artisans.
Q6: How do you juggle working and parenting together?
Whether we’re at home or at work, we are a team – the one thing we remind ourselves of every day. While we shift our focus to work in the day, it always comes back to that. We try to be very supportive and are both in love with being parents – Hadeda is basically another child to us.
Q7: Talk us through working together?
We make sure we’re always open and communicative, checking in all the time. We manage different sides of the business and our personalities complement each other’s ways of working.
Q8: Where are your favourite places in Africa to find inspiration?
Llandudno beach where we spent most of our time when we first met. Alex loves to surf and I love the beach! The Serengeti in Tanzania. The bush – those incredible landscapes and sunsets. We also got engaged there. Churchhaven in South Africa is also one of the most magical places we have ever been – a sleepy collection of cottages on a crystal clear lagoon in a nature reserve. You can book through Perfect Hideaways – they have the best properties there.
Q9: How is Hadeda ethical?
Unlike other brands, we work directly with our artisans, meaning they’re paid instantly and don’t have to rely on orders. We work closely with our makers and fully support them through the process, paying deposits to ensure their working materials are covered and paying full prices for their products too. We meet all of our partners in person and aim to build close relationships with them – they are an extension of who we are – their skills, their heritage and their eye for design are what make Hadeda so unique.
When people buy something from Hadeda – they become a part of something – of the story behind the product. The who made it, where and the why.