AISSA DIONE

Revivalist of Ancient Weaving Craftsmanship

Founder of Aissa Dione Tissus

Country: Senegal

Sector: Artisan Textile Design & Weaving


Aïssa Dione, a renowned Senegalese painter and textile designer, founded the company that bears her name, Aissa Dione Tissus back in 1992. Her mission: to revive Senegal's traditional and unique fabric weaving craftsmanship and build a production chain that is truly '100% Made in Senegal'. Her approach is to combine unique design, know-how and artisan craftsmanship to transform African grown cotton into a valuable product. She has succeeded in this, building a high-end fabric brand underpinned by centuries old cotton processing and weaving skills. Today, Aissa has more than 100 employees whose traditional handwoven fabrics are delivered to the absolute top-end interior design brands across Africa, Europe and the United States. Aissa's designs and fabrics grace major design salons and brands such as Hermés, Fendi, Christian Liaigre and Peter Marino.

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Aïssa's Startup Story

Aissa Dione grew up in France originally, born to a French mother and a Senegalese father who was at one time the European boxing champion. She made the move to Senegal in her 20s to fulfill her ambition to work as an artist. Her career journey was to change when a client in Dakar told Aissa he couldn’t buy one of her paintings before his office was redecorated. Rather than wait, she offered to do the redecorating for him, approaching the project with her unique artistic flair but utilizing only local materials, tools and employees. As a graduate of fine arts studies, Aissa combined her own artistic knowledge with traditional local techniques, such as Mandjaque weaving, to fashion bands of linen used in home interiors and furniture coverings. To create just the right look, she even built a new weaving loom to prepare the fabrics she wanted to use. The result was a success and the local media took an interest in the work she had produced. Such media attention caught the eye of a prominent European designer who saw photographs of her fabrics in an article which appeared in an airline magazine, and soon she began receiving international orders....

Read more about Aïssa's startup story →

Aissa Dione is really an inspiration to so many in Africa and around the world. She has revived an entire industry in her country, and in doing so, has created much needed jobs, preserved precious skills that would have disappeared, and built a business that creates world-class, highly desirable products. A real Lioness of Africa, making a difference. --- Melanie Hawken, LoA founder and editor-in-chief

How does one woman weave an economic miracle? 

Aïssa is single-handedly on a quest to revive Senegal's traditional fabric weaving craftsmanship. A craft that was all but lost to the world. Her solution - create unique and luxurious fabrics using locally-grown cotton and Senegal's ancient, ancestral know-how. Today, Aïssa Dione delivers to the absolute to-end of interior design brands, such as Hermés, Fendi, Christian Liaigre and Peter Marino. Her designs and fabrics grace major design salons, from Paris to Johannesburg and New York. But, in the back of her mind is that ever present dream of - revival.

"I strongly believe in small-scale industries, as a way to bring development to West Africa. We grow a million tons of cotton in this region and we export 99% of that. If I can process that cotton here, at home, I can increase my revenue fifty or one hundred times."

"I want to connect the mill with our cotton growers and in this way we restore the entire production chain."

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