House of Talents Showcases African Artisans

For the last several weeks, it has been my pleasure to write small business profiles that appear in Mill City Times, an online newspaper in Minneapolis in downtown neighborhoods on both sides of the Mississippi River. Here is the latest piece on Kate Herzog and her special shop, House of Talents:

Article by Merle Minda

House of Talents showcases African artisans

Tucked away on the Sixth Floor of the Traffic Zone Arts Building in the North Loop is House of Talents, founded in 2009 by the charismatic Kate Herzog to help artisans in her home country of Ghana and nearby developing countries. Kate is herself from Ghana and came to the U.S. years ago with her husband whom she met when he was in the Peace Corps. Long-established in Minneapolis and with three grown sons, Kate has dedicated herself to making a difference for people in her home country.

Kate Herzog, founder and owner of House of Talents

“In the villages lots of people want to work with me; I hope to help them see possibilities for themselves,” says Kate. “We started with baskets thinking that they would sell well here, and we’ve grown from there!”

And so she has – the House of Talents’ showroom is glorious with color, gorgeous woven baskets, textiles from Mali, exquisite pillows and hand-made drums – and that’s just for starters! Even the drums come with their own hand-sewn original and colorful fabric covers. One of the more unusual fabrics is something called Bogolan, a so-called mud-cloth resulting in truly unusual designs suitable for bedspreads, a sofa or wall-hanging.

Partial view of House of Talents showroomPartial view of House of Talents showroom

Vibrant colors everywhere - House of TalentsVibrant colors everywhere

It is amazing to think how Kate put this together. She visits these villages often and also helps increase access to healthcare, food and financial independence…now providing income to over 1,000 Ghanaian women in the basket weaver communities alone. Kate nurtures her artisans into adjusting their creations for the American buyer in terms of colors and shapes, types of clothing and basket usefulness. For example, bike baskets were a totally new idea in Ghana, especially making the holes for the leather strap holders. “No one knew how to weave holes in Ghana,” laughs Kate.

Kate meeting with artisan villagers in Ghana

Kate herself is an incredibly warm woman, greeting me with a hug and a broad smile, and walking me to my car later with the one pillow I just could not leave without purchasing.

Kate taught herself to read at age 10 and earned an education largely through her own determination. She has several university degrees including an MBA in economics from St. Thomas University.

“I was determined to find a way to help; no one wants to be poor and this work helps our communities increase education, health and financial independence.” Kate is even now expanding to provide books and libraries in villages as well. The grasses from which the baskets are woven grow in plentiful supply near the villages, so it is by using easily available materials and their own ingenuity that this wide range of African products are created.

If you are looking for a gift or something special for your home, go to House of Talents. Kate says she wants “to elevate your mood and bring a happy smile to your face.” An easy task at this creative, wonderful and beautiful space.

House of Talents is located in the Traffic Zone Arts Building at 250 3rd Avenue N, Suite 615 (there is an elevator!) with street parking and a nearby House of Talents lot. They are open Wednesday – Saturday, 11AM – 6PM.

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About Merle Minda

Journalist and free-lance writer Merle Minda writes about travel, business, people profiles and other subjects for a number of national and regional publications, including Delta SKY, Mpls/St. Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Business, Star Tribune, Twin Cities Statement, Minnesota Monthly, and now Mill City Times. She can be reached at or on the web.



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