Originally hailing from Zimbabwe, Linda Adimora travelled to Canada to further her education at the University of Victoria. Along the way, she decided to share some of her cultural roots with Canadians by creating traditional Zimbabwean textiles and displaying them at her local farmer’s market. This desire would ultimately lead to the creation of Batiqua.
Batiqua’s distinctive brand of eye-catching designs are made from Fair Trade and ethically-sourced textiles. They proved an instant hit here in BC, and soon attracted attention at one of the world’s largest trade shows. For Linda, the additional spotlight and sales worked to bolster her mission to empower artisans in her home country, ultimately lifting them from poverty.
Linda was kind enough to give us the story behind her incredible small business.
What’s the startup story of Batiqua?
I was born and raised in Zimbabwe as the daughter of an artisan. I moved to Canada to study at the University of Victoria and I noticed an opportunity for me to share aspects of my culture with Canadians.
I would attend the local farmer’s markets and showcase my crafts to the community. Shortly after, I took a pivot and started adapting our textiles to suit the Canadian market, creating a line of contemporary home décor gifts. From there, it just grew and took on a life of its own. I went from farmer’s markets to craft shows and kept growing. In 2018, I took a daring step to go to New York to attend the world-famous NY Now trade show. It was here I had my breakthrough moment. I got hand picked by the TJX Group – owners of Marshalls, Winners and Homesense – and started supplying my goods to them.
More recently, due to COVID, I now have my own eCommerce platform and I’ve pivoted to running an Etsy shop.
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
The inspiration ties deeply to my heritage, my ethnic background and also my global travel.
I’ve merged the experiences I’ve had here, my history, and my culture as a Zimbabwean to create a beautiful brand that speaks well to the influences I’ve experienced in my life. I’d by lying if I said I didn’t keep an eye on the latest trends but I don’t feel obliged to follow them. What I want to do is really hold true to creating timeless products that remain true to my culture.
What’s involved in ensuring your products are Fair Trade friendly?
Batiqua was founded as a Fair Trade social enterprise with a mission to empower marginalized entrepreneurs and build sustainable employment opportunities. It’s been my hope to go to these artisans and give them the opportunity to better themselves, and ultimately better the next generation with the ability to provide for themselves.
The women in their communities can access a craft and a skillset, they are able to build up their children, educate them and ultimately defeat cyclical poverty. Fair Trade is an important part of our core values, which also include eco-friendly practices, social impact, ethical sourcing, and ultimately artisan empowerment – just really making a difference in the handmade sector.
If people wanted to check out your products, where’s the best place to find them?
You can find all of our products at the Batiqua website, I also have an Etsy page, and I love connecting with anyone who has an interest in the work that we’re doing through my Instagram platform. Those are our main touch points and if you’d like to show support, feel free to connect on Instagram or visit my websites.
What unique challenges (if any) did you experience as a black entrepreneur in Canada?
An issue I’ve encountered so far has been mentorship. Sometimes, it’s been hard trying to build a successful business without having access to black entrepreneurs that have gone before me here in Canada, people I can look to and learn from in a mentorship perspective. Another obvious challenge is access to funding. It’s often said it takes money to make money, and sometimes black entrepreneurs face challenges in getting the funding necessary to scale.
I would say visibility is another one of the biggest challenges I face. A lot of the time, people just don’t know about my brand and the work that we’re doing. I’m striving to really conquer that issue through marketing and sharing more of my story.
Even with these challenges, I feel positive about the future due to the increased interest in the work we black entrepreneurs are doing and an increased awareness. I think that’s where we’ll see a lot of change in the next few years with more people gaining an interest and desire to support the work we’re doing.
Why do you think it’s important for people to support small business?
I love that question! I advocate for local small businesses because I believe they make a difference where it matters most – in our communities. When you support a small business, you’re supporting a person, you’re supporting a family, and you’re supporting your community.
One of my favourite quote is: ‘We cannot do great things, but we can do small things with great love’ and I think that really speaks to supporting small businesses. Literally, it’s a small gesture but you’re doing it in an area where it matters most. Ultimately, that’s what brings the great changes we want to see.
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