SAHEL is a London-based accessories brand founded by former fashion editor Charlie Davies.
SAHEL began in 2008, in the desert of Burkina Faso where Charlie lived for seven years among the Fulani. Horse lovers by tradition, Fulani people used to dress their steeds in vibrant tassles to accentuate the horse’s movement and turn heads. Traditional Fulani horse harnesses have strong braided straps which are hand woven by highly skilled leather workers.
All SAHEL bags and accessories employ this unique Fulani skill, evoking equine elegance and strength.
Continuing the equestrian theme onto another continent, we have also begun to incorporate the work of traditional English bridlemakers.
Our luxury crafted leather products tell the story of a bygone era. A time when days were long and bare hooves echoed across desert sands. A time of robust and beautiful workmanship that could secure a horse and look good too.
SAHEL straps and tassles are mostly made using naturally tanned goat leather from Burkina Faso. The bags themselves are either made by a local Burkinabe leatherworker, or are produced in Devon, England using sustainably sourced cow leather and suede. These are bi-products of the food industry which are processed and effluents are disposed of in an environmentally friendly method.
SAHEL is committed to the preservation of traditional skills and revival of artisanal livelihoods. We adhere to Fair Trade principles and invest in our West African artisans’ communities, providing better access to health care, clean water and primary education. SAHEL is registered in the UK as a CIC (Community Interest Company) number 10227596.
About Charlie Davies
SAHEL design is the result of Charlie Davies’s love of good design, horses and passion for empowering the poor. She works with traditional crafts people in Burkina Faso to relieve poverty in ways that are sustainable and respectful of culture and make quality products that are beautiful and unique.
Charlie graduated in Fashion Design from Nottingham Trent University (1994). She worked in Fashion PR and then as Assistant Fashion Editor for The Observer. She went on to be Fashion Editor for The Sunday Telegraph Magazine (byline Charlotte Apatu, 1998-2004).
In 2004 she swapped her Manolos for flip-flops and moved to Phnom Penh, where she founded Precious Girl Magazine, a self-affirming publication for the garment workers of Cambodia, which gathered the support of NGOs such as USAID and the ILO.
After marrying children’s author Stephen Davies in 2007 she moved to West Africa where she lived among the Fulani, kept a horse and developed a love of indigenous craft. After 7 years, she has now returned to London with her family to develop the export market for SAHEL Design, keeping in regular contact with her friends and co-workers back in the SAHEL region of Burkina Faso.
Passionate about creating a fairer, greener fashion industry, Charlie is a keen supporter of Fashion Revolution and was a panelist at the Together Street launch in 2018 . She is also a freelance fashion stylist with the ethical artist community Novel Creatives.