African art, trade beads and ethnic jewelry are both business and passion for Sara and me. We started buying African art twenty years ago as gifts for our children, four of whom are adopted and are African-American.
We had been active in anti-apartheid politics for some time. In 1994, when Mandela was elected, we took the three still-at-home kids out of school and moved to southern Africa for eight months. We bought a used food panel van, converted it into a camper and traveled fifteen thousand miles through South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Swaziland.
We weren't consciously beginning a business...but we noticed we were buying more than we could keep, give away, or sell at garage sales. In the beginning, we did shows and held open houses. Now eBay, Etsy and our website, AfricaDirect.com, are the primary ways we sell.
We go on six-week buying trips to Africa every few years, and bring back containers. We also have African traders in our driveway almost weekly. We buy from more than one hundred traders (including several women!) who come from both coasts, fly in from France and send shipments from Africa.
We care about supporting living artists, and buy from co-ops in South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Swaziland and other places.
In addition to running the business and being active grandparents, Sara and I are politically active, support causes we care about, read voraciously and treasure family and friends. Eliza's background is in entrepreneurial business and international franchising. Sara was a professional squash player and continues to play competitive squash at national tournaments. We have been together for twenty-nine years, and in 2004 were finally able to be legally married in Massachusetts.
~ Elizabeth Bennett
Michelle Williams, Alice Guzman and Anna Klausmeyer work with us.