In the Maasai culture , the beaded creations they wear can tell you something about a person who wears them- age, material status, social status, special events in their life (like a new bride). With guidance from a talented leather worker/designer, the mamas were given the opportunity to use their natural sense of colour and design to create natural products for the Western market. They live and work near their homes which allows them to care for their livestock and children) where they gather in small groups to share advice and stories as they bead the leather provided. A friend of our collection- Nils Tcheyan- visited the mamas and beautifully captured a few images of their gathering.
“We have seen clearly where hope and opportunity exist, in one part of the world, it can impact peace and stability across the globe.”
Our goal is to demonstrate that products made in Africa can compete in the global marketplace, while at the same time creating employment for the artisans, with the hope that they will have the investment in, and an opportunity to change, their own future and the future of their children.
John Schultz, the founder was living in Kenya when a group of Maasai herded 13 of their precious cattle to the US Embassy in Nairobi to express their condolences to the families affected by the events of September 11th. The gift of the cattle, which are so precious to the Maasai, was a way to say how wrong that event was and how sorry they were for our losses.It made us realize that we all have “gifts” to share and we do what we can to make a difference to help in spite of our own constraints. What we are doing is not a charity or a handout, but just as the Maasai and many other Kenyans extended their hand in sympathy and concern in their own way, we are reciprocating in our own way by providing guidance and presenting their talents to a demanding market.
Why is the Kenyan Collection a non- profit? Because the Kenyans felt that setting up a non-profit would suggest donations are required or desired to sustain this operation and customers would need to manage expectations in terms of quality and product. These are both assumptions the Kenyans specifically wanted to challenge …. And they have. We don’t want your donation, we want your business which we will earn by ensuring every customer is satisfied with the product purchased with their hard earned money. While there are many who have tried to duplicate some of the work and designs of our artisans, in terms of creativity, consistency and quality we are sure you will agree there is no comparison.