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Family Ties

Savané Silver and the family ties.

“Je veux lancer l’entreprise, Savané Silver” I said to my husband, Mamadou Savané, in 1996, the same month I changed my name to Rachel Savané: “I want to start my business and call it Savané Silver.” We spoke French a few years into our marriage, since his English was still young. We met in Guinea in 1992, while I was a Peace Corps volunteer and he was a friend of a friend. To my great joy, he followed me to the United States when my time in the Peace Corps was complete.

Bangaly Savané, our son, came along in 1994 and the different last names of his parents was a conversation every time, so I made the effort to change my name. It felt good, especially since the new business name sounded distinctive and, to me, elegant like my silver creations.

The juried art fair scene became my workplace, and, as a young mother, I brought the nursing newborns to art fairs as they entered the family; Diaka Savané (1998) and Kanny Savané (2000). Savané, as I call my husband because he introduced himself to me this way, stayed home with the elder children all those weekends that I was working an art fair and sometimes brought the kids along to enjoy the ambiance.

I decided to open my gallery, featuring only my work, in downtown Lexington hoping to grow the business in a different way.

Savané declared that he would do the finishing work in the home studio while I manned the shop and produced the designs there. He was several years into his UPS career and had just let go of his Hyatt Regency job. Savané did all the finishing work for five years until one day, over a discussion of “how I would do it,” he

decided it was time to move on.

The year was 2008 and he opened his restaurant, Sav’s Grill & West African Cuisine near downtown Lexington, fulfilling his personal dream after so many years of observing me running my own business. Sav’s Grill was clearly meant to be since it survived the economic crisis of 2008.

Our businesses truly are family affairs. Bangaly and Diaka were keen to work at the restaurant. Diaka at age 11, stood on a stool to reach the cash register to take people’s orders. Bangaly continued full-time, after high school, to pay for flying lessons. Occasionally Bangaly would model for me when I made men’s pieces and needed a picture for the website.

Diaka used to beg me to allow her to work in the gallery, but I was not comfortable with a 15-year-old running this high-end enterprise. However, after her year abroad in high school as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in France, her worldliness made her a most appropriate assistant. She continued to work at Savané Silver throughout her college career when she was not abroad and even ran the place with three part-time employees while Savané and I made our first trip to Guinea together in 2016. Bangaly ran the restaurant during that time.

So where is Kanny Savané in all of this family businesses business? She is becoming the brand ambassador of Savané Silver, modeling pieces at every opportunity and hoping to build an influencer career featuring Savané Silver among some of her favorite things. Kanny is attending university seeking to become a personal trainer upon completion.

Bangaly is a commercial pilot and sales executive of airplanes. Diaka is a team leader in AmeriCorps while waiting for the Covid pandemic to pass so she can pursue her international career.

Savané and I are happy for our children who are following their own passions. We celebrate our successes and support each other through adversity.

We’d love to hear your stories of family and resilience.

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