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    If you break your arm - buy new underwear & other tips for busy entrepreneurs!

    If you break your arm - buy new underwear & other tips for busy entrepreneurs!

    I have been so lucky for most of my life with only minor health issues and injuries. But, a few weeks ago I broke my arm. Sure it hurt, but, all seemed ok on the Xrays for the past 3 weeks and it was very manageable. That all changed last week when my doctor didn't like how the bone was setting. She highly recommended surgery as she wanted to get the bone (radius) better aligned permanently, with a metal plate and screws to ensure the future mobility of my wrist.
      Not sure what I was thinking, I seriously thought she could do this surgery with some kind of local anesthesia or nerve block...or something. Even after doing some google searches, I was surprised as this was going to be serious. And, on the day of surgery, I got the whole package of modern medicine, at its best, hospital bed, oxygen tubes, fentanyl, anti-nausea meds and the list went on. I even came home with a bottle of oxycontin, another source of stress for someone who hates taking any type of pill and who studies drug use and dependence for a living.
      Today, I’m 5 days post surgery and have an early post-op visit on Monday. My doctor was reluctant to see me that early, as this is a week ahead of the usual treatment schedule. But, I’m traveling with my students to Uganda on Tuesday, so the remaining post-op care will take place there. Terrible timing, I know, but then no one would ever say that there is a particularly great time to get injured and in need of rest and recovery.                                                                                         
      My orders were strict this week, do as little as possible and keep the arm above the heart, most of the time. It’s been a tough week, but here is my list of recommendations, if you find yourself in a similar position and can find a moment to smile.
      1. Buying a set of new and much larger underwear should be a high priority; it makes life so much easier and less is better (do I really need to explain this?)
      2. Writing on a keyboard is so much slower using only 1 hand (seriously, painfully slow)
      3. Accept that you will miss lots of deadlines (for those of us who are type-As, this is terribly stressful)
      4. Surrender to ordering takeout food (yes, you will gain weight, it’s expensive, but, there are also no dishes to clean)
      5. If you have a hard time putting on that favorite dress, there is no way you will get out of it on your own (don’t get stuck, especially when you are home alone)
      6. Makeup is tricky, may be best to go without it (that mascara smudge ended up looking like I had a black eye, not a great look, especially with a broken arm)
      7. Everyone will ask you how you broke the arm, strangers, colleagues and doctors, and all will seem disappointed if you only have a boring story to tell (my version of tripping while hiking in the woods was way too mediocre. I should have gone skydiving or trained elephants or something a bit more exciting)
      8. Enjoy public transportation/being driven to work (I could really get used to this which may have been the best part of my week, skipping rush hour in Atlanta and getting to know lots of Uber drivers)
      9. If you need a man to get you some pads or tampons, send him a picture of what you want (however willing he may be, chances are he will get lost with the many unfamiliar options, styles and types)
      10. Find a TV series with several seasons to watch (I hate to waste that much time, but it helps to rest and get into something)
      11. Get used to asking for help (very tough for those of us who usually don’t)
      12. Make sure the lid to the pain pills have been removed (and that also goes for all the jars and tubes, think shampoo and tooth paste too)
      13. If you have kids, make sure you have taught at least one of them to cook a meal you would enjoy eating
      14. Stay grateful for all the good things, health & happiness!
      15. And, know that everything will get better, especially if you have a sense of humor and can find a reason to smile.                                                       
      On that note, it's time to pack my suit cases, 3-day countdown until I leave for Uganda. Charles is already there, getting ready for us. So, tugende, let’s go! We have work to do.                                         

        Are You Bold Enough to Wear Paper Beads?

        Are You Bold Enough to Wear Paper Beads?

        Have you seen the new jewelry made of paper beads? There are new designs, color schemes and styles in necklaces, earrings and bracelets, popping up everywhere and even in the trendiest pantone color schemes for this spring. And, this will definitely become a new trend worth looking into. That is, if you are bold enough to wear jewelry made from paper beads.

        I first learned about these beads through my work in East Africa where women used paper scraps and old magazines to create beautiful beads. But, I have since realized that paper beads are pretty much made everywhere. Some people have reservations about paper beads, they think they are fragile or difficult to wear. The beads I’ve seen (and those that we sell) have been varnished 5 times, so you could stick them in the dishwasher, wear them in the shower or maybe even drive your car over them (that’s what my youngest son wanted to do to test their durability). I wear my pieces every day and get rave reviews from people who compliment me on my jewelry, but who have no idea they are made from paper beads.

        But, seriously, paper beads are becoming an interesting phenomena in jewelry trends. It has a growing hashtag on social media, reaching over 45,000 on instagram. Of course, this does not compare with most other jewelry categories, at least not yet. And for some women, wearing gold, diamonds and expensive bling is key. I used to wear traditional and very expensive jewelry myself, but not anymore. Now, I want jewelry that reflects my personality, that adds some pizzazz, and that really makes a statement. I also want to wear jewelry with meaning, with soul, and that makes a statement. Jewelry to me is not about showing off my financial worth or whether there is a man in my life.

        Clearly, I’m not alone. It goes without saying that making jewelry out of paper beads is cheap, but it takes a lot of skill, time and patience. The smaller the bead, the more intricate the work.  The two most difficult tasks of making paper beads are cutting the paper strips to size and rolling these strips evenly, maintaining an opening for the string. I have been taught to make these beads by the women in Uganda that work for Tugende Design (my social enterprise initiative) and I see their pride in creating something beautiful from nothing.

         What makes this jewelry even more compelling is that it builds on sustainability and recycling initiatives.  Much of the jewelry that the women make in East Africa and in Uganda specifically, are made from scraps of paper that otherwise would have been thrown away. So, this type of jewelry is a world apart from traditional and expensive gold and diamonds that many girls and women want. So, paper beads are not for every woman.

        While women make jewelry out of paper beads all over the world, to wear for themselves, as gifts and also to sell. It has become a symbol of women empowerment. Women empowerment in that many of the women do so as they have no other means of income or resources (as the women we work with in Uganda) or because it is sort of like magic to create something new, bold, colorful and so very creative. There is power in defying norms and challenging current paradigms of what jewelry is all about. And, finally, it is empowerment for a woman to put on a piece of jewelry, that cost her almost nothing, but that she knows was made by other women, for women and that says something about her. That takes a bit of courage and being bold. So, let me ask you, are you bold enough to wear jewelry made from paper beads?



        Online Shop & Social Enterprise TugendeDesign.com

        Celebrating Our 20K Instagram Followers!

         This morning I logged in to our Instagram account, as I usually do on the weekend, to plan content & strategies for the next week. And, there it was, 20K followers, wow! Not sure how we got here exactly, but at least we have shared lots of posts, colorful content & messages of women empowerment, diversity & opportunities. And, about all things paper beads! 

        Am so excited and grateful for all the people who follow us, comment on our content or just cheer us on -THANK YOU!

        Of course, there are so many people behind the scenes, not just the 5 groups of women that we work directly with in Uganda, but also the gorgeous models from near and far that volunteered to showcase our jewelry and everyone else that has helped us along the way.

        It isn't easy to start a social enterprise, but we have been truly blessed by support from family and friends. And, for those who follow us, you know we do this because of our passion for #womenempowerment because we seek to uplift women in poverty and because we believe in their talent and in possibilities.

        We have big plans for 2019 & will look for more collaborators & partners. Meanwhile, send us your thoughts & comments! And, please help us spread the word about Tugende Design as we're trying to grow on other social media platforms  next (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest).

        But, most important of all, THANK YOU for your support to all our instagram followers!




        It's True -Wherever You Go Becomes a Part of You!

        It's True -Wherever You Go Becomes a Part of You!

        I love this quote by Anita Desai who said that "wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow? So, let me ask you, where are you going and what do you want to become part of you? For me the question is easy, I have been to so many places. There was even a year I traveled to all 6 continents. I love traveling and as a global health professor, I often have projects or work in other parts of the world, so there are many places that have already become part of me. 

        I was born in Sweden, but actually I'm half Swedish and half Finnish. But, for most of my adult life, I have lived in the U.S. and now for the past few years also in Uganda. My dad lives in Thailand. So now, I really do consider myself a world citizen. And, I have decided that "home" is anywhere or everywhere that I'm happy and feel at peace. 

        But, after years of traveling the world, "home" to me can be many places. And, it's not just about the place, it's about the place and its people. That is also why I love Uganda, the people are just amazing. I realize I also have a growing urge to do more, to serve and to give back to people. To me, uplifting women in poverty has become a significant charge. And, that is why it is the mission of Tugende Design. I fell in love with Uganda many years ago and so it's now part of me.

        At Tugende Design our mission is women empowerment. It is women empowerment for those facing poverty and hardship in Uganda. We do this through financial support and social entrepreneurship by facilitating jewelry making, skill building and training. But, it's also women empowerment in the U.S., by enabling women to be themselves, to be bold, to express their personality, to be free to wear colorful jewelry and to appreciate their beauty. 


        When I named our social enterprise, I knew I wanted "Tugende" to be part of it. It was one of the first words I learned in Luganda, a local language. Tugende means "let's go". And no matter how busy I am, I always make time for Tugende Design. Why? Because it makes me happy to know that what we do makes a difference. But, more importantly, it's who I've become. 

        So ask yourself, where are you going, and what would you want to become part of you? If you don't know, find out, and then just go -Tugende!


        Tugende Design Signature Art Collection - Limited Time Offer!

        Tugende Design Signature Art Collection - Limited Time Offer!

        For a limited time, Tugende Design has partnered with talented artist Johnie Kyambadde to offer 9 large (39 X 33 inches) mixed media paintings (African print fabric and acrylic on canvas) of African wildlife!

        Here is the story behind the paintings and our partnership...

        For two years I have enjoyed a beautiful painting in my office. The painting is of a majestic elephant made of a collage of African print fabrics. And, I love the colorful, bold and fun patterns. But, I had never seen the fabric used in such a way before, so I was intrigued. 

        I fell in love with the painting at an art market in Kampala. I knew I just had to have it. So, we bought it and brought it home to Atlanta. Since I spend so much time in my office at work, I decided to hang it there. Even though I love it, I was surprised how many people notice it, admire it and comment on it when they walk by my office. It is that unique. Playful. Colorful. 

        So, this last trip to Uganda in December, we met up with the artist, Johnie Kyambadde (who we have come to know quite well). After some discussion, we decided to partner and bring his art to the U.S. After all, I have loved my elephant piece and it always inspires me. Of course, it also makes me miss Uganda!

        In preparation for listing these 9 large signature pieces and limited edition, I talked to Johnie a few days ago to really make sure I got his story straight. I wanted to make sure I could convey his inspiration for these gorgeous pieces and the use of the African print fabric (Kitenge).

        Johnie Kyambadde is a painter from Kampala, Uganda who specializes in mixed media, collage style of vibrant and playful depictions of animals on the African Savannah. His mixed media interpretation of the king of the jungle (the lion), the majestic elephants, the high soaring eagle or the dynamic buffalo through vibrant African print fabrics and acrylic paints, really make for true conversation pieces. These bold, fun and eye-catching pieces make for a perfect addition to a living room, office and even a nursery. I have mine in the office and can attest that it is really a conversation piece.

        Johnie Kyambadde (born in Uganda 1972) has a diploma in Commercial Art & Design and he says that his unique approach and use of mixed media merges contemporary art with indigenous expression, primarily through abstract forms and realism in African wildlife.

        When sharing his story, he said he was inspired by visits to the beautiful national game parks, in particular the Kidepo Valley National Park in eastern Uganda. The idea of depicting the animals in Kitenge fabric came from a cultural festival a few years ago where performers were celebrating African traditions by wearing the fabric.

        He thought to himself that this would also be a way to further accentuate the African wildlife and link to tradition by incorporating the colorful African print fabric within the physical shapes of the animals. He said it took quite some time to master the mixed media technique and to execute the right combinations of patterns and colors. He said he had to practice over and over to select the right pieces of fabrics to ensure the right contrast and complementary patterns to get it just right. 

        Johnie recently got married to his beautiful wife and together they have four children. 

        At Tugende Design we are proud to partner with Johnie Kyambadde and promote this signature collection for a limited time, and to bring his colorful and creative art pieces to the U.S.

        Each piece is unique and made by Johnie Kyambadde in his studio in Kampala, Uganda.

        As with all our products, 20% of the profit from each painting sold supports women empowerment projects in Uganda through our social enterprise initiatives.