Petel Design: African Culture in Hayes Valley

Julie Wagne and her husband Ibrahima have been residents of Hayes Valley since 2002. Over the past decade, they've been no strangers to creation; their love and collaboration have not only produced two daughters, but also a window directly from San Francisco to Ibrahima's native Mauritania.

They've taken this African culture's unique art of weaving incredibly rich fabrics, and showcased the craft for their neighbors — and beyond — via their company, Petel Design. Petel is a Fulani word meaning "little spark." The process of weaving these textiles is a specialty of the Fulani tribe, and it's steeped in tradition. The pieces of fabric are created on large looms, and can take nearly a month to create, resulting in long woven strips of gorgeous, colorful cloth.

Julie and Ibrahima mix both vintage and new pieces in their orders, and everything is one of a kind. A detailed account of the fabric's foundation can be found on the Petel Design website, along with a selection of merchandise. Once the fabric arrives in San Francisco, it's transformed into a variety of items by Petel: coin purses, tote bags, and table runners to name a few. Julie says her ideas for possible new products continue to blossom as she learns the nature of their market. They also present a variety of vintage items finished by the Fulani tribe, including scarves and wedding blankets. Petel products can be found in Hayes Valley at Kappa Zakka (460 Grove), Lavish (508 Hayes), and Birch (564 Hayes).
Julie and Ibrahima have already seen Petel Design grow by leaps and bounds since its official launch on October 28th. Now they're exploring new ways to benefit the community that pioneered this beautiful custom. They hope to assist in childhood education and artistic training in Mauritania, to inspire the new generation of the Fulani tribe to perpetuate the art of their forefathers. So when you buy something from Petel, not only will you be getting a beautiful product, but you'll be helping to support the traditions and community that created it. Petel serves as a good reminder that with a little creativity, we all have the ability to make a difference – whether it be here in our neighborhood, or on the other side of the globe.

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Petel design african culture in hayes valley