Pangea was the supercontinent incorporating almost all of Earth’s landmasses 200 million years ago. Today it is an intimate showroom and factory along Wilkinson Road where Mahmoud and Margaret Kadi design, create and sell hand-crafted woodwork, clothing and fashion accessories, and artwork. Set up only in August 2015, they have already made quite an impact; their clientele includes Partners in Health, SOS School, CSE, Swiss Spirits Hotel and most notably, Radisson Blu. Radisson Blu’s Mammy Yoko Hotel at Aberdeen is essentially a showcase of Pangea’s interior decoration and furniture-making skills.
But just 5 years ago these husband and wife entrepreneurs did not even live in Sierra Leone, they lived in London. He had worked in Insurance for 20 years and she had worked in Media and Television for 15. So how did a Sierra Leonean couple working in the London corporate world find themselves running a workshop in Freetown?
“Mahmoud was homesick,” Margaret laughs. “He kept trying to convince me that we should come back but I wasn’t sold. Then one day we came on holiday for the first time since I left and as soon as we stepped off the plane I just knew I couldn’t go back.” They stayed and started pursuing their dream: Creating quality products that are distinctly Sierra Leonean. Mahmoud took over his father’s furniture factory business, and Margaret started creating fashion, accessories and interior design pieces.
Their showroom has a welcoming ambiance. There is a bed in one corner, a dining table and chairs which they sometimes eat on, and then there’s the husband and wife rapport, making the space feel more like their home than their workshop. “People wander in and never want to leave. They come in and they become friends,” says Margaret.
They are changing perceptions: showing people that great products can be made in Sierra Leone and still be at International standard. “Every day customers argue about whether a product was made in Sierra Leone or not,” Margaret smiles proudly. “And that makes me so happy because it means I’ve done a good job.” They are perfectionists, preferring to re-do a piece of furniture or a dress rather than selling it with any defects.
The couple want to bring genuine change to Sierra Leone in their own small way. Their long-term goal is to set up trade schools for skilled workers. “In Sierra Leone,” Mahmoud says, “only white-collar jobs are valued. But in other countries, your plumbers and carpenters make a lot of money.” These trade schools would give certifiable training to skilled workers, making the quality of work better and adding value to the trade, the individuals’ lives and the economy.
Office: 118 Wilkinson Road
Working Hours: 9:30 – 18:00
Facebook: Shop Pangea