Co-founders - Mama Anna and Jax
Tailoring Team – Lilian, Sammy, Rahema and Ruth
Karibu! Welcome to the Bushbells journey.
Learn more about our schools and recognise who made your clothes to see the beauty of Bushbells: a purchase with a purpose.
Our Bushbells journey began in 2009 as a modest attempt to support the community and people we care about as a third-generation East African mother and daughter team. When Sammy was widowed with three children to support, we wanted to help him find more work. So, we harnessed his expertise as a tailor and took inspiration from the colourful Kenyan coast to sell kikoy clothing to our UK family and friends. Demand exceeded all expectations and 'Bushbells' was born. We completed our first namesake school - Bushbells - in 2015, and started building our second, and sister school, Bluebells, in 2016. Today, profits from all our sales fund our ongoing educational projects and ensures a secure livelihood for our small and magnificent team of tailors and beadworker.
Our Co-Founders: Mama Ana and Jax
Ann, aka Mama Anna, is my gorgeous mother, who planted the very first Bushbells seed, making it her mission to find Sammy more work following the loss of his wife. That was over ten years ago, and as a vital cog in the Bushbell’s wheel she is still going strong. Her calm and serene nature brought so much joy to Sammy and continues to do so to our team of tailors.
Born in Uganda, and raised in Kenya, I am Bushbells’ co-founder and driving force, making decisions, taking the risks and shouldering the work, and never giving up, despite the odd set-back. Knowing our team intimately, they are my driving force each and every day. They are why I do what I do.
I never thought some ten years on we’d be at the stage we are now, almost completing our second school! So far we have helped give a better education and start in life to some 350 children. I love colour, people, travel, mangos and sunshine, but most of all my darling family.
We are on a mission to help people buy less and buy better. This means considering the social and environmental costs of a product before we buy it, and drastically reducing our consumption. We are proud to be championing slow production and will continue to limit our impact on the natural world whilst doing our best for people and planet.
Sammy – Our Master Tailor
You see his name on every one of our labels as his story is at the heart of Bushbells. When he was widowed with three children to support, we wanted to help support him and find him more work, and so Bushbells was born. His eldest, Katana, was the first child we ever sponsored and Katana is now at an international university in Nairobi.
Always smiling, Sammy endeared himself to everyone he met, and he was a very dear friend to us. We sadly lost him very unexpectedly in August 2021, which was a devastating blow for Bushbells and the Watamu community at large. BUT his name and his legacy live on. He trained Lilian, Ruth and Rahema to be the excellent tailors that they now are, and together with Joseph, they make up the formidable foursome our our small Bushbells' team of tailors.
Lillian was the second tailor we took on to help Sammy with his ever-increasing workload in the early days. The security she has from Bushbells’ work enables her to educate two of her nephews and support her aging parents whilst continuing to dazzle us with her ever changing hair styles and colours. Lilian has recently bought herself a plot of land with her Bushbells bonus, on which she is saving to build.
Next up is Rahema, who is a single mother to two boys aged 12 and 4. Rahema is in charge of stock keeping and runs a very tidy ship! She has an infectious laugh and with her recent Bushbells’ bonus, she bought herself a motorbike, saving her valuable travel time. Cool dude, Rahema!
Last to join our Bushbells' team is Ruth, mother of twins Josphat and Andrew, who are 8 years old. Her ongoing work with Bushbells have given her status and security, allowing her, as she said in her own words, to ‘be somebody’. Known as our ‘songbird’, she has the most beautiful voice. She has also just bought herself her own plot of land on which she now wants to build. Bravo Ruth. And she's off any day now to have baby number 3. Follow us on Instagram to read updates there!
Mwana, Principal of Bluebells
Dreaming of a better way to educate the children around her, her gentle determination and resilience in a predominantly patriachal society, have resulted in this joyous little school. A ‘modern day, Islamic Mother Theresa’, as described by one of our volunteers recently.
Rose, Headteacher, 25
A single mother to a two-year old boy, Rose was the second teacher employed by Mwana and is the nominal Headteacher of Bluebells. She is loyal and hardworking, truly loves her job and always looks immaculate.
Our longest serving teacher ‘this school is good as the teachers are very hard working and care about the children’.
‘Bluebells is unique as it provides a better education than other schools and Mwana very kind to teachers and pupils alike’.
‘I want to produce better citizens that will help our country.’
‘Bluebells has a great environment for learning both in the classroom and on the sports field. Bringing up the children felt like a calling to me.’
‘This school is special as the facilities are far better than other schools as there are more water points here and the food for the children is much better. I want to inspire my teachers to dream big and to become better people than before.’