Ruby Award Receipient
Bridget Meyer was born in a tiny African village on the Zambesi River only 5 miles from the Victoria Falls. She left home to attend a Zambian boarding school and upon graduating she was not only the first woman from her village to receive a high school diploma but also the class valedictorian.
Although Bridget loves living in the USA, she missed her native Zambia. She wanted to keep in touch with her home. She also wanted to introduce the people of her new home, USA, to the culture of Africa. In 1991 she started an import company and named it Toka. Bridget is a member of the Toka tribe. In 1993 her husband Bob joined the company.
Bridget and Bob knew that Africa was full of cultural wonder and beauty. Their goal was to share that beauty with America. They introduced products that were not only attractive but also told a bit of the story about life in Africa. Their first success was with the wonderful Wedding baskets. These were followed by a line of earthenware called African Clay Vessels. In 1999 Toka began importing Kuba Cloth textiles from the Congo.
All of these products feature African motifs, which are full of meaning. All are made in the old, pure, and traditional manner.
Toka has become a dream of opportunity for the weavers and clay artisans who produce the product. For them it is a chance to go deep into their own traditions to create into modern times while still maintaining the best of their traditional rural lifestyle. It is a chance for them to share their culture and traditions.
Toka began in the bedroom of Bridget and Bobís Minneapolis apartment. As the business grew they moved into several larger warehouse locations. In 2001 they moved their business to Smith River California. Their current warehouse is in Crescent City CA .
Toka maintains two warehouse sites in Zambia and currently works with approximately 400 weavers. All of the weavers work from their home and weave at their own pace. In this way they are able to earn income while taking care of their families and living their preferred traditional way of life.
Toka is about creating opportunity in Africa. Toka is about maintaining African tradition and culture. Toka is about sharing that culture with America. Toka is about bringing the best of Africa to the USA.
Briget Meyer is a recipient of Soroptimist Founder Region's Ruby award for Women Helping Women. She was chosen as the SI Crescent City honoree, and also selected as the regional honoree the same year.
For more information about Toka please visit: www.tokabaskets.com