BOUT THE ARTISANS
The Maasai Mamas
In the Maasai culture, the beaded creations they wear can tell you something about the person who wears them - age, marital 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 color and design to create products for the Western market. They live and work near their homes (which allows them to care for 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.
ABOUT THE COMPANY
The Kenyan Collection
"Africa can compete"
"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, in the hope that they will have an investment in, and an opportunity to change, their own future and the future of their children.
Joan 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 11. 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 each other in spite of our own constraints.” What we are doing is not charity or a hand-out, 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 way by providing guidance and presenting their talents to a demanding market.
The new owners, Cindy Lay and Stewart Newman, just returned from Kenya and are excited to share with you their fabulous new finds that will debut at New York NOW.
Why is The Kenyan Collection NOT a non-profit? Because the Kenyans felt that setting up as 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 of products. 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.