Spinners Web is a cornucopia of crafts and ingenious creativity that takes shape in the form of an abundance of functional and decorative items.
It is also a kind of one-stop shop in Kitisuru where one can find almost anything he/she needs in the way of gift-giving, including giving to one’s self as well as to others special to you.
That means everything from handmade soaps, creams, and gels to hand-woven capes, coats, and jackets made from Kenyan sheep’s fleece to African dolls and other toys made from either cotton, wool or colourful flip-flops footwear.
They sell exotic lamps decorated with West African masks as well as lampshades made out of metal, cotton, sisal, kitenge or macrome. They even have furniture made from wood, glass, metal, wool, leather, or beans.
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They are bountiful when it comes to a wide assortment of bags and baskets made with sisal, banana fibre, baobab bark, or plastic.
But plastic kiondos are rare, given one of the main reasons for establishing Spinners Web was and still is to promote the use of organic and indigenous materials first from Kenya.
But now, the range extends beyond our borders to include items from all over Africa. For instance, one wooden cat-like creature is a sculpture from Congo.
At the same time, it is a drum used for ceremonial or celebratory occasions.
The celebratory occasion that Spinners Web is about to honour this Thursday is Thanksgiving. Invariably, Americans celebrate it on the last Thursday in November.
And whether someone is religious or not, whether they believe in the traditional narrative about how the first Thanksgiving was celebrated (with hungry European settlers being assisted with food by the indigenous landowners), many Americans (excluding vegetarians) celebrate with roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, topped off with either pumpkin or carrot pie.
“Our chef Regina, who’s come to us from Lord Errol, is also preparing my grandmother’s special recipe of scalloped potatoes for lunch,” Jacqui Resley, SW’s owner and CEO tells BDLife, referring to this Thursday’s traditional American meal.
And while she knows most Turkey-lovers also expect pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, Jacqui prefers carrot pie with whipped cream so both will have to be on the menu.
But Thanksgiving isn’t the only day that SW’s Café offers freshly baked pies. “Every day, we feature pies,’ says Jacqui who has even taught Regina her grandmother’s German recipe for Apple Pie Crumble. “It’s one of our customers’ favourites,” she adds, noting that the pies will be there over the weekend when SW is having a super-sale on everything in the double-decker shop discounted by 10 per cent.
That will be important to the artisans working in the over 500 workshops that regularly supply SW with their various items.
“We have a section on the ground floor where we display the newest items brought in every day by our vendors,” says Nacita, Jacqui’s general manager.
Started almost 30 years ago by three adventurous women, Jean O’Meara, Betti Mburu, and Jacqui Resley, the shop eventually devolved into the hands of Jacqui whose hard work, architectural and interior design background equipped her to transform their small shop into a vast open-air space filled with light and fresh air as well as a myriad of home decorating ideas made tangible by mainly Kenyan artisans.
“Many customers come here regularly just to see what new items have turned up,” remarks Nacita.
“Fridays are special because we have a farmers’ market and Tuesdays are when we have a Maasai Market where one old mama has been coming for years, bringing her women friends to sell their jewellery,” says Jacqui who is excited about the underground parking that she is finally putting in to alleviate the problem of insufficient parking space.
What I find more exciting about SW are the warm woollen wall hangings that Jacqui designs and hangs all around the shop.
At a distance, they look like canvases painted in oils, not hand-woven organically-dyed, hand-woven wool fabric.
Some critics might suggest that Spinners Web is just an upscale curio shop that one used to see on Biashara street in the CBD.
But while there might be a vague resemblance, the difference in quality, originality, and freshness of design. For instance, one won’t find elegant hand-woven capes from Jacqui’s own Weaverbird factory on Biashara street or lamps accessorized with masks from Gabon or DRC.
So if you’re struggling with what gifts to give, Spinners Web is the place to go.