Artisan Highlight: Sidai
The Maasai, located in Tanzania and Kenya, are a community of nomadic peoples well known for their colorful dress and strikingly regal looks, and now more for their beautiful jewelry with leather and beaded designs. Traditionally, the community generates their income through livestock and farming, and they live peacefully amongst nature.
However, the women in the Maasai community are often faced with antiquated practices that have little place in the modern world. They have little to no access to education – in many cases they are actively prevented from learning - and many women are not taught Swahili, the national language of Tanzania. These women are therefore limited from participating in the broader social and economic fabric of society. Girls as young as twelve are forced into marriage without any hope of divorce of separation.
Sidai Designs aims to give agency back to these women by empowering them through education, skill-development and training, and ultimately financial independence. Sidai Designs, founded in 2011, is a non-profit organization that serves to the social and economic development of women of the Maasai community in and around Arusha in Tanzania. These women create stunning and unique jewelry using locally sourced and oftentimes recycled glass beads and materials. The artisans incorporate antique Maasai designs while also adding their own contemporary flare, creating a beautiful combination of old and new.