Attire Accessories - Mar/Apr 2018 (Issue 69)

40 ATTIRE Tell me a bit about how the company started.What was the aim of the label when it was launched? In 2006, the NGO Oikos started a project to help the Maasai women generate an income as an alternative to cutting wood and illegally selling charcoal. The aim of this project was to protect the environment and at the same time create a stable and sustainable income source for the women. Two years later the project became an independent and self-sustained organisation and has since grown internationally. How were the initial products developed and what was the response? The first collection was created in Milano at the IED (Istituto Europeo di Design) by a group of international students lead by professional designer and goldsmith Francesca Torri Soldini. Francesca has since been volunteering for the organisation and brings new collections to Tanzania, where she trains the women on all the new designs. What challenges were overcome when the company was starting out? One of the first challenges at the very beginning was gaining trust from the Maasai women and explaining that the activity would benefit them, which required long days and endless meetings under Acacia trees. A second hard aspect has been to reach a high quality standard of beadwork. What sets you apart from your competitors? Tanzania Maasai Women Art jewellery is one-of-a-kind in design and of high quality.The jewellery is a fusion of modern Italian design and traditional Maasai beading marrying two distinctive worlds – the flamboyancy of Italian design with the intricacy and craftsmanship of Maasai beading.This is beautifully reflected in bold, ornate designs. How important is your location and history to the company in its success? Maasai Women Art is more than just a stunning beadwork jewellery brand – it’s a successful eco project that works to protects the natural resources from which it’s created, as Helen Erhabor tells us The Maasai m e ent