Meaning ‘good’ in Maa, the language of the Maasai, ‘Sidai’ is the name given to a business that is infusing traditional beading with modern aesthetics, after being inspired by a visit to Arusha, in Northern Tanzania. Sidai Designs was founded by, Eszter Rabin, a graphic designer turned artisan entrepreneur living in California, and Emanuel Melubo Laizer, a Maasai Warrior from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Northern Tanzania. Discovering a mutual interest in working with underserved communities, Emanuel and Eszter joined forces in 2009 to share ideas, and after several visits to Maasai communities launched Sidai Designs in 2011. The result of this partnership sees the distinctive, elegant beading of the Maasai translated into striking, contemporary jewellery collections that manage to balance bold silhouettes with the delicateness of the beading, and some very pretty colour palettes.
The jewellery collections are produced entirely by hand, employing sustainable production from the materials used to the packaging. Old grain bags are turned into the threads that connect the glass beads; plastic boxes are used to create the boning required to give the products their shape, and recycled aluminium from Ethiopia is used for the clasps. Sterling silver and soft leather complete the look and some designs also incorporate locally made Kitenge fabric. The business has also teamed up with Sew Tanzania to produce not only their jewellery bags, but also a range of totes, which are made from repurposing grain bags and incorporating kitenge fabric and sisal.
Sidai Designs is a non-profit organisation that works towards sustainable investment within the communities it works with. The business uses the proceeds from the sale of the jewellery towards helping the women artisans attend school to learn reading and writing in Swahili as well as some English. Dedicated to helping his community and preserving their traditions, in 2010 Emanuel set-up the Napokie Arusha School, to teach young Maasai adults the skills of reading and writing Swahili and basic English. This is the school attended by the artisans.
Jewellery and bags priced between USD$18-USD$75
For further information about Sidai Designs visit: www.sidaidesigns.com
To purchase from Sidai Designs visit: http://sidai-designs.myshopify.com
[Image credits: The images shown belong to: Sidai Designs. If downloaded and used elsewhere must be credited accordingly]