When Emma Wingfield was eight years old, she decided she wanted to be a Egyptologist—and, unlike those of us who couldn’t even pick a major two years into college, she really followed through. After getting her bachelor’s in archeology and art history at Beloit College, she went straight on to a master’s in art history at University College in London. Meanwhile, her longtime friend and eventual biz partner, Laine Henry, was putting the hours into her own dream of working in design, translating her BFA from The Moore College of Art & Design into a career as a product and UX designer.
Everything started coming together for the two of them during Emma’s first trek to Côte d'Ivoire as an art researcher, where she first met the weavers of Waraniéné. “I was really interested in the line between craft and fine art. Some forms of production are so old, but the artists practicing them are still creating something totally new. I knew something was there,” she recalls. When she got back from the trip, she met up with Laine to figure out what, exactly, that something was. They were both ready for a career shift and equally invested in drawing attention to the people behind the gorgeous indigo textiles Emma had found, and after a little brainstorming, they came up with the idea of a fair-wages textile company called Five and Six. The Brooklyn pals funded the project with a Kickstarter in May 2016, raising over $20,000 for a line of throws and bags, all created by the artisans in Waraniéné. More than anything, the pair sees the company as a spotlight aimed at the incredible design that was already happening. “Each of the pieces is a collaboration between us and our weavers, but we’re very focused on it being their art,” Emma explains. “We’re here to help bring those pieces into the homes of everyone that we can.”