Hanneli Rupert, Farm to High-End Fashion


Hanneli Rupert is the trailblazing founder and social impact champion of the sustainable African accessory label Okapi. It’s hailed as a farm-to-fashion concept and works to contribute to rural communities’ development by creating stable, long-lasting jobs. She founded the pioneering Merchants on Long, a store championing authentically made African brands.

Farm to High-End Fashion

Something clear from Hanneli Rupert is her passion for materials and sustainability. She discusses the importance of sustainability sourced materials as a way of investing in communities through jobs and skilled labor. The quality of the craftsmanship always comes to the forefront.

Paired with that is a need to elevate African voices. Hanneli isn’t looking for European heritage products with an African spin; she sources authentically African materials and voices.

Hanneli also touches on building supply chains and logically building markets. Hear her take on the importance of creative ventures in the pandemic world.

Highlights of the episode:

  • (3:17) The origins of the Okapi brand and Merchants on Long
  • (11:07) Being at the forefront of fashion and art and launching successful entrepreneurs in the African fashion scene.
  • (14:02) Her goal is to seek artisans and designers who speak with an authentic African voice
  • (20:44) Okapi as a brand empowering as many people as possible through sourcing and skilled labor
  • (24:58) Discussing why she chooses to work with skins even as culture has shifted to synthetic materials
  • (32:12) The importance of a product’s story for the branding and the nuances in the layers
  • (44:02) Speaking about the Social Impact Arts Prize and what’s happening with it

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