M a r k e t N e w s

Made in Mount Vernon: Home decorations

Posted on : Wednesday, 21st September 2016

 Rose Luangisa built her Mount Vernon-based home decorations business on having an eye for what looks good.

So when interior decorators and gallery owners began coming to her home 20 years ago to buy African wood sculptures, they looked around her living room and asked about the decorations made for herself.
"They would say, 'Oh, I really like that,'" said Luangisa, 48.
Clients' interest in Luangisa's custom-made pillows, wall hangings, lampshades and furnishings led her to expand her business, the Luangisa Art Gallery, into home decorations about 12 years ago. She designs the products from her home, mostly for upscale, female customers seeking something different.
"This is a labor of love," said Luangisa, referring to her many one-of-a-kind products.
She caters to her clients' tastes by designing jewelry, kitchenware, furniture, wall hangings and bedspreads. Her decorations incorporate African batik cloth, kuba cloth, mud cloth and other African crafts.
Although the fabrics and materials she works with are African, Luangisa gets much of her inspiration locally.
"I love New York; I spend a lot of time in the city. I go to major department stores...Saks Fifth Avenue, just to look around at the colors of the seasons. And I look at a lot of magazines," she said.
Luangisa arrived in Mount Vernon in 1987 when she moved from her native Tanzania. She attended Iona College, where she got a degree in computer science and an MBA in marketing.
She works as a computer analyst for Calvary Hospital in the Bronx.
Luangisa got her start in the home decorations business in Dar es Salaam, the most populous city in Tanzania and an important economic center in East Africa, where her family has a business selling traditional wood sculpture. Her family still helps out with her business.
Globalization has created more public interest in products made from traditional African textiles, but the economic trend has also made it harder to manufacture locally. Her lampshade manufacturer in New Jersey recently went out of business.
"Right now, in America, I noticed something. People don't make this anymore. They don't want to sew curtains. They don't want to make ottomans. They don't want to make chairs. It's very expensive in this country to find someone," said Luangisa, who makes some of her key rings and jewelry herself at night while watching television.
"All the little knickknacks, I have to do here," she said. "Because if you pay someone it will cost you a lot of money."

Source : www.lohud.com
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