a Story Worth Telling
“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained” CS Lewis
Walking into our buzzing workshop to a song and a smile gives us such a feeling of excited energy. Sometimes it feels like you want to sit down behind a sewing machine and join the buzz, but not all hands were made for sewing. Even more intricate is the hand embroidery that these Namibian Women do so effortlessly. We would then quickly gather to sing a Typical Nama song and welcome our Creator into our day with a prayer.
Anin is not just a name; it is a Nama word that translates to many birds. The Nama People is a member of the Khoikhoi people of Namibia and live in the Southern parts of the vast Namibia.
Like most good things in Namibia, the Anin project grew from humble beginnings. As the very creative, hip, city girl wife of a successful Swakara Farmer, Heidi von Hase was thrown into the deep end of a new reality with the man she loves. Activities such as milking the cow, processing meat and growing vegetables for the table were a step away from the supermarket and other city comforts. The Family was expanding with 4 girls in their toddler and early school years. Heidi’s creativity however was not about to fade.
Her heart for people was set ablaze when experiencing the struggle and poverty of people who were living in tough conditions in the neighbouring village. Heidi was able to recognize and appreciate the impoverished women’s talent for embroidery, a skill learned from the missionary women in the early 1900’s and passed down for generations. In seeking shelter from the blazing Namibian sun, the first meetings of Anin embroidery took place, in the shade of a camel thorn tree, where Heidi von Hase established the group in 1987.
Initially Heidi supplied some textiles and threads while providing creative direction. The motifs chosen by the women mostly depicted the many birds of Anin itself and familiar scenes from village life in Hoachanas. One could imagine small children herding goats and donkeys while the old and wise enjoy each other’s company in front of their home as mom is chasing the chickens out of the house. This set against a backdrop of makeshift houses and dusty yards.Strips of fabric and threads were given to the embroidering ladies to work onto. These strips formed both the functional and aesthetic appeal that is still the core feature of the ‘anin style’ today.
Finding this practically creative way to create a functional craft by sewing up tablecloths, cushion covers and later bed linen Heidi took the women’s skills to another level. Tourists came from far and wide to see the craftsmanship of incredibly gifted hands and purchase a souvenir for friends and family. Soon the anin project provided an income for about 300 mothers and their families in Hoachanas.
Using only the highest quality linen fabrics to embroider on, the anin products were soon to be recognized as hallmark for Namibian creativity and quality both locally and abroad. The “father of the Namibian nation” Sam Nujoma also acknowledged the efforts made by Heidi von Hase in a time that was especially important for Namibia’s growth.
Though the years Anin established many retail outlets throughout Namibia and supplied its goods to the world through International fairs and the tourism industry. Currently Casa Anin is only situated in Windhoek along with an outlet in Cape Town. Due to Popular demand we are now in the process of developing an online store to serve our international client base.
The business has since relocated to Namibia’s capital Windhoek where a loyal group of skilled African women from the village Hoachanas are employed. As high demand and fast turnaround time required more machine embroidered goods to be offered, the sales of hand embroidered goods declined. In recent months we have realigned the focus back to the people and the skills that they offer.
Today House of Anin is headed up by Heidi von Hase’s daughter Anabel Loubser and her husband Stephan Loubser. “For us this is more than a family business, it’s about real people working, laughing and crying together”. Like us our employees have their own families and everyday challenges which we support as they support us. Working with your spouse is a lot of fun and greatly enriches your relationship.
In this house of many birds humility, mutual respect and love are critical values and keeps us accountable to one another and our clients. We continually strive to run House of Anin in a manner that will empower even more families in our beloved Namibia.
We find it highly rewarding when our clients share their stories like “your bedlinen is such fantastic quality I need to get one for my kids as a wedding present” or “after 12 years of sleeping I was so sad when I hung my duvet cover on the line and it tore right down the middle…” luckily a trip to our retail store was the perfect solution to another 12 years of undisturbed sleep. Among many Families are those in Namibia, Germany, the UK, USA, New Zealand and Norway who enjoy our bedlinen and tableware daily.
From its humble beginnings House of Anin has evolved to become a leading competitor in both retail and wholesale Namibian handmade bedlinen and tableware. We thank our Creator as the true inspiration and provider.