Yswara: Swaady Martin-Leke
Founded in 2012 by Cote d’Ivoire-born Swaady Martin-Leke, Yswara celebrates and promotes African craftsmanship. Priding itself on preserving Africa’s tea culture, Yswara has one of the world’s largest selection of fine and herbal teas from the continent, offering 27 varieties of premium loose-leaf African teas. Recently Yswara has stepped further into the luxury lifestyle space by extending their range to tea-accessories & candles. We spoke to Swaady to find out more about Yswara and what the brand stands for:
Tell us about Yswara and the story behind it:
Inspired by a passion for fine teas, history, community and economic upliftment, Yswara is an African rooted company. It is a business of inspiration and transformation, where we endeavour to put forward an Africa that is both authentic and refined. Yswara is an expression of creativity and exceptional craftsmanship. We have drawn on our continent’s rich symbolism and traditions – our name and logo is inspired by the myth of Ty Wara, the West African mythological hero who came to earth to teach mankind social values as well as agricultural techniques.
Yswara’s star product is gourmet artisan teas created using ingredients and narratives from the continent. Our recipes use only the finest leaves, buds and spices to encourage a distinctly African sensory experience.
Your range is full of amazing luxury products, including teas, candles and accessories. Why did you choose the luxury industry?
Conceptions of luxury have definitely shifted, and we have worked with these changes. Luxury captivates the imagination and creates a space for experience beyond the physical product. Yswara is Africa re-imagined; we embrace intangibles and the sensory. We never compromise. Our products are made by skilled artisans using the finest ingredients to deliver a unique experience to those who enjoy or encounter them.
This, combined with a profound desire to reverse the commodity trap by keeping the value-add in Africa, gave rise to what we call Luxe Ubuntu. The expression describes an inclusive luxury manifested in the spirit of kinship and upheld by the ideals of compassion, dignity, harmony and humanity. A focus lies on broad-based wealth creation and upliftment by increasing access to established and receptive markets through exceptional products conceptualized and produced on the continent.
How do you see Yswara making a positive impact?
Luxe Ubuntu creates economic value in a way that also creates value for the African society at large by addressing its prosperity needs and challenges. It aims to expand the meaningful income of all stakeholders contributing to the creation of our products at the various levels of supply chain – whether it be farmers, artisans, artists or manufacturers.
Yswara promotes sustainable and ethical practice in production. We stand firmly by a preferential female employment policy and support small business. The re-branding of Africa is an Yswara passion, and we actively participate in the preservation of history and culture through each of our products.
From where do you get your inspiration?
I am inspired by Africa and its communities, by human potential, by the spirit of Ubuntu: I am because we are. I have a deep respect for our artisans and I want to take their skills and creativity to the world. I draw from creatives and innovators in all industries – designers and artists from Africa and abroad.
My favourite tea is the soothing Yswara Shire Valley, a silver tips white tea farmed in Malawi.