Motherly Love Africa, owned and operated from Fort Wayne-native and Paul Harding High School-grad Nicole Walker, sells hand-crafted jewelry and clothing straight from the mother land, Kenya, Africa. Walker purchases the goods from native entrepreneurs and the signature of quality is, in the case of the material, in the unmistakable touch.
“I fell in love with the quality of handmade pieces,” Walker said, “with the craftsmanship that filled up with humility and presence of God.”
Polyester and cotton material isn’t corner-store plentiful in Kenya like it is here. Hand-woven clothing from Kenya have a waxy feel, Walker described, doing her best because there aren’t many American-made references to pull an adjective from. Because of the “waxy feel” and coating, water just kind of bubbles up and rolls off.
Locally, you may have seen the Motherly Love Africa booth out and about. Walker set up shop at two recent Fort Wayne-shows: the Black in Business (B.I.B.) event held on February 24, 2019 and the Black Business Showcase Convention on April 13. She averages two to the three shows a month, working out of her home base of Brownsburg, Indiana; she works about two and a half hours from Fort Wayne in Plainfield, where she is an elementary school principal. (Her husband, Drew Walker, does her product photography; her father-in-law is veteran photographer, Mel Johnson.)
Walker works with a Kenyan woman named Florence, “Flo,” who purchases the goods for her: skirts that can be worn as dresses, jewelry, purses, scarves, and hair bows. Motherly Love Africa will be expanding their scope at the end of May with the addition of dashikis and skirts for little girls.
Shipments, sent once a month, usually take around 4 to 5 days to arrive from Kenya. Because of around-the-world shipping costs, Walker limits the quantities mailed to “tens of things,” she said. So, Walker’s not really sitting on a bunch of inventory that doesn’t sell. And Walker deliberately has reached out to multiple Kenyan entrepreneurs (six to eight on average) to produce the goods, to support as many business owners as possible and to pour funds into the African orphanage, in a poverty-stricken environment out of Nairobi, Kenya.
Walker’s aunt, Fort Wayne-native Brenda Ellis, a singer for Bishop T.D. Jakes, told her niece about her nonprofit outreach in Kenya, Brenda Ellis Children’s Home, and, as the school principal is all about children herself, she jumped at the chance to lend a hand in person. (Because of her help, they named the orphanage after Brenda Ellis.)
Walker spent a week in support at the children’s home in March 2018; the orphanage’s 150 kids, whose parents have died from the HIV or were abandoned, are taken care for daily by a husband and wife team, with a few small one-room buildings for everyone to live and eat in and a church building to attend.
To contact the Brenda Ellis Children’s Home, visit their website: BrendasBabies.org. Their address: Brenda Ellis Children’s Home, C/O Mrs. Brenda Ellis, P.O. Box 512282, Grand Prairie, TX, USA 75054. Their phone number: 1.877.608.0032.
A link to the children’s home, can also be a found on the Motherly Love Africa website (MotherlyLove.store), after clicking the Learn More link towards the bottom.
Nicole Walker - Motherly Love Africa
Fort Wayne’s Very Own: Profile of Local Entrepreneurs
Who/What: Nicole Walker, Motherly Love Africa, - Hand-crafted jewelry and clothing
Highlights: : Authentic materials and goods that help supports Kenya entrepreneurs and an orphanage, Brenda Ellis Children’s Home. Goods are one of a kind; material has wax-like finish, water just falls off.