Name: Maddy McAllister
Job title and description: YEWO founder + designer + community projects manager
How did the idea of YEWO come about?
"I was already living in Malawi co-owning an eco-lodge when I met Kyle. We hit it off, and decided that we both wanted to stay in Malawi longer term and offer more jobs in the area. So we pulled together our passions (design/community development for me, engineering/problem solving for Kyle) and scrapped together a rough dream of building a workshop where we could teach people how to make jewelry while providing them with a living wage and a family like atmosphere at work. This dream is now becoming a reality!"
What is the best thing about working for YEWO?
"I love the ability to live such an unconventional lifestyle. We are based in a beautiful village in Malawi for part of the year and in a small cabin just outside Asheville, NC for the other chunk. We work with such an inspiring group of people in Malawi, who are all so positive-- it really does put things in perspective. Lastly, I appreciate the creativity YEWO brings about. There is something refreshing about creating and designing with limited resources-- a very humbling and rewarding experience."
How are you able to live such an unconventional lifestyle
"Short answer, we have hustled! To be transparent, we have not taken out a loan or had investors of any kind. Instead we were scrappy and saved up every penny to devote to this dream and to our team. Kyle built our cabin in Asheville, which is completely off-grid (solar, composting toilets, etc) and we are in the process of building a small bungalow in Malawi. We live a very basic but rewarding life"
What do you want the YEWO customers to know?
"I always try to be conscious with the words I use. The last thing I want is for our customers to buy our products as a 'pity buy'. Instead I hope to change the dialogue of how we view Malawi, and Africa in general. Our team at YEWO are very proud of the items they craft and the future they are creating for their families. We want to celebrate this."