How We Got Our Start:
Vermont Drying Racks, a division of African&Vermont Wood Products, was born about the time (January 2009) of the birth of the second child of Soriba “Simbo” Camara and his wife, Lynn Camara, in Bristol, Vermont. They were interested in saving money and helping out the environment so when they moved into their new home they decided not to get the gas dryer hooked up. Lynn used a small drying rack that constantly fell over and she had sheets and towels hanging over doors and chairs. Debbie, Lynn’s mom, had been drying her clothes on a large wooden drying rack for 20 years and was eager to help the young family do the same.
Debbie began her search for a large, solidly-built drying rack at local hardware stores. When that was unsuccessful she broadened the search on the internet. She couldn’t find the large wooden drying racks anywhere. Debbie suggested that Simbo build one, using wood they found on their own property. That rack turned out so well they thought that other people were probably having a similar problem finding wooden drying racks, so they decided to start making them to sell.
Simbo started making them in the basement of their home, and Debbie sold them at local farmers’ markets and craft fairs. At the Bristol Farmers’ Market in the summer of 2009, the family learned of a man who owned a woodshop in East Middlebury who liked to help small companies develop. Thus, in the fall of 2009, Jack Brown became involved with the enterprise and prepared the wood for the drying racks, which Simbo then assembled in his basement workshop.
A little more about Simbo:
Simbo was born in Conakry, Guinea, West Africa, in 1972. As a youngster, he became interested in studying the traditional dances of Guinea. When he was in his teens he began working as a carpenter in Conakry. He eventually left carpentry and went on to train and dance with the leading ballet companies in Guinea: Ballet Djoliba and the internationally acclaimed Ballets Africains de Guinee.
In 2005 he married Lynn who had traveled to Conakry to study dance and who became Simbo’s student. Simbo relocated to Bristol, Vermont, where he teaches African dancing and drumming in nearby communities. He is also the director and choreographer of his own local performing company, called Africa Djolie. Simbo travels throughout the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and South America performing and teaching.
Simbo and Lynn now have two children and are close to Grammy Debbie who runs the sales and business sides of the drying rack business.