During last summer’s lockdown in Naples, Italy, 28-year-old Paboy Bojang posted his venture’s first message on Instagram: “My name is Paboy, I am an asylum seeker trying to build a future in Europe. I risked my life crossing the deadly desert and the Mediterranean Sea to get here. I used to work at a prestigious majolica workshop called Stingo making tiles and vases but lost my job because the immigration bureaucracy is so bad and I am still waiting for my documents to be renewed. I’ve been waiting almost a year now. I was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement to start something myself in order to survive. I was a tailor in The Gambia when I was a teenager and I realized I could use those skills to make elegant cushions. Please help me grow my business, my first line of cushions hand sewn in Naples.”
That was on July 31, 2020, and since then Paboy’s signature pillows—exuberantly colored boudoir squares edged in frilly trim—have repeatedly sold out. After several years of living in Italian migrant camps, Paboy now has his own quarters in a British journalist friend’s place in Naples, and dubbed his business In Casa By Paboy. He and his creations have recently been spotlighted in the Financial Times’s “How to Spend It” column, British House & Garden, and the Vogue website. The FT’s take: “If joy could be sewn and stitched with ruffles, it would be an In Casa By Paboy cushion.”
Of course, there’s a lot more than happiness sewn up in these pillows. But they are undeniably uplifting and have been making their way around the world.
Paboy is a nickname given to boys named after a grandfather in West African countries. He has recently been able to recruit and train fellow refugees to sew with him, and has just moved to a new work space bigger than this one. Note the red zippers in the lower right: they’re a Paboy signature on the back of every pillow. Photograph by Giuseppe Attanasio.
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