It was unlike any church service I’d ever been to—the farthest thing from church I’d experienced in the states. We’d walked a couple miles to get there. It lasted for hours. I couldn’t understand much of it, but it moved me spiritually, emotionally, challenged my beliefs, and opened me up to the wondrous range of humanity.
What I still hold onto today, and what influenced the logo for The Women’s Bakery, was the dancing. That Sunday, congregants of all age groups—the youngest children to the oldest widows, danced with a sort of confidence, a strength that comes with tradition and deep knowledge. It wasn’t a showy dance that people do at clubs or parties. It wasn’t self-aware, like so many of us do who never took dance lessons. It wasn’t sexual or silly—it was neither perfect nor performative. It was a storytelling sort of dance that isn’t about the dancer, but about the tradition. I’ve not seen dancing like this before. It was honest and simple. It was bold.
There were a few dances where women would stretch out their arms, sort of roll their wrists and point their fingertips up, and then sway/stomp from side to side. The rocking was like they were on a boat or paddle board—slow and subtle. Markey explained to me that this dance celebrates the harvest, and is performed at weddings and important ceremonies. The extended arms represented cow horns, a symbol of the animal so integral to their farming culture. The dance took on the form of the cow to celebrate the bounty.
When Markey asked me to design the logo for The Women’s Bakery, it was that sense of joyous abundance that I wanted to capture. Instead of a more literal loaf of bread or a shaft of wheat, I wanted the logo to embody the essence of joy that the dancers showed me at church that day. I wanted it to convey that steady, strong sway the women exhibited in their movements. I wanted the logo to honor their tradition. I didn’t want it to be about the bread, but about the celebration.
From what I understand, the first group of women who saw the logo cheered and clapped, and started dancing immediately.
I’ve been doing creative work for over a decade now, with lots of non-profits, b-corps and small businesses, and it’s so fulfilling. But I’m still humbled every time I see a picture of a women in East Africa wearing a shirt with that logo on it. I’m amazed each time I review a new batch of photos of strong women baking bread. I love the new creative challenges TWB brings to me as they grow and change. I’m in awe when I hear stories of villages who have gained access to breads and steady income, and changed households because of The Women’s Bakery. And I’m proud when donors catch the excitement and support the work.
My experience at that church reminded me that we’re all here on this earth, celebrating small, ordinary things—like a harvest—that are truly big things. And that’s what The Women’s Bakery is all about. It’s about a simple loaf of bread, changing the life of a woman forever. I’m so honored to be a part of that.