Nancy Zeller received a BA in Art from the University of New Hampshire, USA, and has been immersed in natural dyeing since 2005. In 2007 she studied Khiva traditional crafts, in partnership with artisans of Khiva, Uzbekistan and American artisan mentors, focusing on natural dyeing. Zeller studied in France in 2010 with Denise Lambert, owner of Bleu de Pastel de Lectoure, and Michel Garcia, founder of Couleur Garance and of the Botanical Garden of Dye Plants. Zeller has also studied with Michele Wipplinger, owner of Earthues, Seattle, WA, Gasali Adeyemo, Nigerian Indigo and Adire Master. In April 2011 she attended ISEND 2011, the International Symposium and Exposition on Natural Dyes in La Rochelle, France. In June 2013 she traveled to Rwanda, Africa, on a humanitarian project, to assist a group of 35 Rwandan woman expand their color line of handspun, naturally dyed yarns. She returned to Rwanda in 2014 in search of plants that would be suitable to provide color. In 2015, Zeller completed a dye plant research project through INES-Ruhengeri University, Rwanda. That same year she founded Rwanda~one4one, a non-profit organization.
With eternal gratitude and the grace of God, Rwanda~one4one is working with one family, totaling seven households in Rwanda, to lift them from poverty and create income opportunities. Donations are used to directly improve their living standards as well as fostering Umva, the natural dye project. Trained and managed by Zeller, Umva is an income opportunity for the women in the family to naturally dye textiles using indigenous plants in Rwanda for color. Umva is a fair trade project providing income, through textile sales, to the families to improve their standard of living.
Umva, as a part of Rwanda-one4one, is a blossoming opportunity for the family, in which they are taking immense pride and care in nurturing its success. With Zeller’s guidance, the ladies of Umva welcome the opportunity to learn the craft of natural dyeing and how to apply it to cloth. Their gorgeous finished pieces speak to their determination to earn income so they can feed and care for the family members.