Disruptive Value: The Making of ILAVA Flagship Store

Over the last ten years it has been an honor and privilege to give ILAVA women worldwide access to our ethically made, chic, and luxury products!


ILAVA is based in Chicago, Illinois, and made in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania which means a significant portion of our company is run by Tanzanian natives. When we began thinking about launching our flagship store, it was essential for ILAVA’s first location to be in Tanzania, a country that has supported our brand with their creativity and custom designs since the beginning and most importantly, to disrupt product value notion.


The truth is, the continent of Africa is the place where raw materials are sourced or where production takes place, but people living there do not have access to the finished product.


We want to change the NARRATIVE.

We must change the NARRATIVE.

We have changed the NARRATIVE.


Tanzanians and other African nations should have access to ILAVA products on their soil. As a company, we understand the models and strategies used to guarantee a successful business–minimize cost and maximize profit. Yet, ILAVA is determined to do things differently. One step at a time, we will take on the rewarding, yet difficult task, of producing fair trade and luxury products outside of business and social constructs.


Often, reasons that prevent businesses from making above business risks are based on three visible and invisible social constructs:


1. Business makes an assumption that no one in that country of production can afford to purchase those products, and of course, they will not be able to buy if one uses the same formula to price the products as if selling in Europe or North America; but a business can make a decision to make a percentage of their products to remain at the production home area for affordable and fair pricing that reflect the local market.


2. A social construct poses and reflects on the idea that if your product consumer is in or from North America or Europe, it has more value and luxury than if the consumer is on the continent of Africa. For example, a black woman in Tanzania versus a white woman in Tanzania; or a woman in Tanzania versus a woman in North America can wear the same item and the product is placed in different "value" categories.


3. Who is behind the business? A global south woman versus a global north woman can run the same type of business, and it will have a different level of importance and value; white or western women running a company with an ILAVA social enterprise model encounter various opportunities in comparison to native women because white or western women are often the face of social enterprises who then develop “partnerships "with native women.


We encourage other businesses to join us in our quest to rewrite the narrative. The outrage about cultural appropriation is not about who is wearing the product or who is involved with the business development of the product. It has more to do with the value placed, based on the person. People of the global south are exhausted and outraged by the lack of acknowledgement and conversely, access to opportunities our counterparts are given when it pertains to value.


ILAVA has made bold steps in challenging ourselves not to fall into existing social and business constructs. In fact, we are here to debunk these constructs. It's not easy, but It Can Be Done, one small step at a time. With that said,


1. ILAVA products are available for purchase in Tanzania.

2. ILAVA's product values are not defined by the race, ethnicity, and location of the consumer.

3. ILAVA is run by Tanzanian native women AND ILAVA is still a social enterprise, fair trade,

and a luxury brand.