Behind the Label | The Base Project

Twin brothers and founders of The Base Project Chris and Doug Akin partnered with local artisans from Northern Namibia to design and produce locally-sourced, eco-friendly jewelry at fair trade prices. Each of their handcrafted tribal bracelets are unique and thoughtfully made in addition to being fall's must-have arm candy. We spoke with this trendsetting duo and found out more about their travel wish list and favorite places for inspiration. Shop for good, check out The Base Project.

Twin brothers and founders of The Base Project Chris and Doug Akin partnered with local artisans from Northern Namibia to design and produce locally-sourced, eco-friendly jewelry at fair trade prices. Each of their handcrafted tribal bracelets are unique and thoughtfully made in addition to being fall's must-have arm candy. We spoke with this trendsetting duo and found out more about their travel wish list and favorite places for inspiration. Shop for good, check out The Base Project.

 

 

How does travel inspire your collection?

Our collection is inspired by wanderlust. Doug and I have a strong desire to travel and explore the world and different cultures. On these travels we are always inspired by the recycled materials artisans use, vibrant prints found in a marketplace, and tribal designs applied to modern accessories. Of course, it comes full circle when we incorporate these travels and designs into our product.  

 

 

 

 
Describe the meaning behind "Wear your Impact".
'Wear Your Impact' embodies the choice we make to deliver both an aesthetic and social statement with our fashion. Daily, we broadcast to the world a message with our clothing and what better way to show that we support a social cause, idea, or movement. Wearing Your Impact with a unique product like the bracelets creates a ground swell of ambassadors for The Base Project. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
How does Namibia/Africa inspire your collection?
Namibia is a beautiful country with breathtaking landscapes, beautiful tribes, and a pioneering spirit. All of these attributes of the people and country are found in our collection. One clearly sees this in the names of our bracelets; each bracelet is named for an inspirational place, people, wildlife, or tribal tradition in Namibia. 
 
What is your favorite part about Namibia? What is the culture and people like?
Our favorite part of Namibia is the openness of the countryside. Namibia is one of the least populated countries in the world; you can drive on dirt roads for days without coming across other people. The culture and people are some of the oldest in the world. Many of the tribes and people that The Base Project works with continue to maintain their traditional culture from thousands of years ago. This extends to their semi-nomadic lifestyle to the traditional red ochre body ?paint? that the women wear. 
 
What is it like working with the Himba and Herero tribes?
Inspiring. The Himba and Herero tribes are some of the oldest tribes in the world. It is amazing to work with people who both preserve very traditional aspects of their lifestyle and are simultaneously investing time and resources into work that will provide new opportunities for them and their children.   
 
 
 
Describe Base Project in 3 words. And then tell us why you chose those words.
Wanderlust. Artisan, Storytelling.
 
Wanderlust: The Base Project?s voice is one of wanderlust. We chose this word because it embodies a strong desire and impulse to wander and explore the world. The word wanderlust is defined by the motivation behind the act of travel. This feels different than mere ?travel? which may have many motivating factors and/or reasons. 
 
Artisan: We work with artisans. The artisans we work with are exceptional at their craft and make all of our bracelets by hand. The term ?artisan? is fitting because their work becomes wearable art for the customer.
 
Storytelling: Storytelling is what we do best. Our products, the artisans we partner with, and the remote regions we travel to are full of stories bursting to be shared with our friends. Storytelling is as old as human communication and a powerful way to share with others.  Everyone we encounter is much more interested to hear about Doug and I dancing with tribes in the desert night rather than statistics on population density and material composition. 
 
 
 
 
Your collection of products keeps growing, what creative endeavors are on the horizon?
Some amazing new products with the San bush women + Ostrich eggs. That is all we can say for now. 
 
 
How did you find the first bracelet you were ever gifted from a friend?
Fittingly enough, our first line of bracelets were not part of our initial product test marketing. While we were test marketing a few designs, people kept resonating with one bracelet that I (Chris), wore; given to me years earlier by a long lost friend. At the time all I knew is that it came from Namibia and it was made from up-cycled plastic. So we decided to connect the dots, which led us to some of the oldest tribes in Africa. In the early stages of The Base Project I would pick up a phone and cold-call anyone whom I thought could connect us to the artisans; the US Embassy in Windhoek, the Director Of Peace Corps in Namibia, NGO's, etc. Through these conversations and emails, we got closer and closer to the source of the bracelets and used intermediaries to communicate. This all culminated in our first trip to Namibia to deeply understand the production process, the story behind the bracelets, the humanitarian needs in the region, and how we could set up a sustainable supply chain.
 
 
 
Who is your Muse? Describe the Base Project girl.
The Base Project girl is a passionate traveler. She easily floats between life in her home city in the US, working a meaningful professional job, and wandering through the souks of Morocco. When she travels with our bracelets they inspire her to explore new cultures. When she is back at home, our bracelets bring life to her last trip. 
 
 
Tell us about your favorite piece (or one of them) and where you were when you got inspired to create it.
Our favorite piece is Kunene Cattle. Cattle are the lifeblood of the Kunene Region, adorning art and traditional jewelry of the Himba and Herero Tribes.
 
 
How would you describe your own style? Please name the three staples of your wardrobe you could never live without.
Three pieces I could never live without: A good pair of blue jeans; my perfectly worn brown leather dress boots, and really colorful and wild socks. 
 
 
 
 
Your collection has a strong global vibe. What are some of your favorite cities to visit and why?
Cities: Tokyo because it does everything to the Nth degree. Yangon because you won?t see western brands and hardly a sign in English. Hanoi because it blends together the best of Europe and SE Asia when it comes to food, architecture, style. 
 
 
What are some destinations on your bucket list?
Bhutan, Madagascar, and Congo.
 
 
How would you describe your travel style?
Get local. Plan less, Explore more. We usually skip tours and create our own adventures, just walking and talking in villages we engage with the locals and they usually invite us in for conversation, coffee/tea, and a snack. We love getting a feel for being inside someone's home that's the most authentic experience you can get while traveling.
 
 
Which upcoming travel plans are you most excited about and why?
Our next trip to Namibia to grow the business and launch some new development projects.
 
 
Which three items are you coveting most from L-atitude?
I love the Sun & Siesta Red Wayuu Hammock, the Atelier 55, Anna Studio, Red Sleeve Leather Jacket, and the Miss Mochila, Blue Medellin Mochila Tassel Bag.
 
 
 
Globetrotter Stats
Souk or Department Store?
Souk
 
DIY or Concierge Service?
DIY
 
Buy Everything or Buy Nothing?  
Buy Nothing
 
Camping or 5-Star Hotel?
Camping
 
Drive or be Driven?
Drive
 
Room service or Street Food?
Street Food
 
Lots of Luggage or Carry-on Bag?
Carry-on Bag. Actually my dream trip is to travel with no luggage and walk on the plane with only what I have in my pockets, and maybe a book and toothbrush if they don?t fit into my pocket. When I imagine traveling this way, it is complemented with the idea of buying a ticket on the car drive to the airport -- just choosing one of a few random flights that are leaving that evening.