Translating to “one” in the language Kinyarwanda, IMWE began as an extension of the Mercer on Mission trip in Rwanda, supporting women facing the aftermaths of genocide through the sale of their handmade products.
IMWE’s partnership began with the Ubumwe Family Design, a collective partnership originating from skilled, family-owned tailor shops. Many Mercer students aspired to find a more sustainable means of supporting these families' businesses. Following the first trip in 2021, members wished to extend these efforts and created a marketing class to aid Rwandan women in developing their products in the United States.
Beginning in January 2022, IMWE has now developed over 100 products and continues to expand the brand every year. Products range from intricately patterned tote bags and purses to uniquely fabriced laptop bags and backpacks.
Brand executive and graduate assistant Emma Drash shares her excitement for the upcoming pop-up event, stating, “Everything is super accessible and customers become better connected when they see our brand and our story behind the products they purchase.” Intern Khushi M. Patel ‘24 shares this sentiment, saying, “Talking with these women, telling their story through their unique, handmade bags, I want their stories to be heard.”
Mercer students will be able to purchase these items on Sept. 13 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the top of the University Center stairs. Mercer students and faculty will also be able to receive a discount and all products will contain handwritten notes and videos from the seamstresses in Rwanda. Those interested in purchasing items from IMWE online can visit their website at https://imwerwanda.com/collections/all and learn more about the incredible stories behind the scenes. Students interested in modeling for IMWE may also reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Priyanka Yagneswaran ’25 is a Neuroscience and Piano Studies student at Mercer University. As the Arts and Culture editor, she covers and coordinates reporting on different cultural events happening in Macon and in the general art and music scene. In her free time, she enjoys reading, listening to music and brewing espresso.