Mary Jones and her husband Jeff, both physicians, were inspired with the idea for this fashion forward ethical company after one of there many annual mission trips to Africa
While serving in her capacity as a physician implementing both medical mission work and church planting, she and her husband were motivated to do something. They saw so much untapped potenial for economic growth in these areas of deep povery. Many of the women they met were trained in intricate bead working from a very young age as part of their cultural heritage and are also great seemstresses out of necessity
Mary wondered if she could find a way to turn the talents these women already had into economic growth for them and their communities. Mary fell in love with the vibrant colors of Maasai beaded jewelery and African wax print fabrics from her very first visit. She knew that women in the U.S. would too.
What does Maasai Chic mean?
Maasai Chic (pronounced Maa-sai)
The Maasai Tribe's distinctive culture, dress style, and territory along the border of Kenya and Tanzania have made them one of East Africa's most internationally famous tourist attractions. Although a small tribe, and despite education, civilzation, and western culture influences, the Maasai people have clung to their traditional way of life, making them a symbol of African culture.
The intricate beadwork the Maasai Tribe wears tells a story. By studying the neck pieces, cuffs, and other accessories, we not only enjoy the vibrant colors and intricacy of the work worn by these women, but all learn about her: we learn if she is married, how many children she has, and even what trials her life has included.
Her outfit literally tells
her story boldly.
Even amongst extreme poverty found in Kenya and Tanzania, Mary was inspired by the adornment of JOY, the bold, brazen colors worn by those who live there. She wanted to bring this boldness back to the United States. She also knew she wanted to create sustainable, long term solution to poverty for the women she had met while still celebrating their unique culture.
When Mary met Stacey Scott, a woman also from Birmingham, she knew this project could have true impact. Stacey and Jafari Msaki founded AIM (African Intergrative Medicine) and manage the on-the-ground team in Tanzania, a staff of artisans that now create small batch and limited eddition collections twice a year. Together we are bring African fashion to American women while bringing empowerment to artisans in Tanzania.
This relationship of working as a team aids the community healthcare system to move from a model of sick care to wellness by supporting healthcare, education and community development. Maasai Chic is now a part of the solution to long term poverty in Tanzania.
By linking arms and working heart-to-heart with our team in Africa, we are able to have a deep impact while curating these gorgeous collections.
My dream is to empower our artisans, to train them on marketable skills and support them in owning their own sustainable businesses someday. I would like to expand to have business classes and structured training programs where our own artisans train others, eventually working their way out of their own jobs and starting their own grassroots companies. I also have a dream to employ and empower women right here in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, creating employment that reaches our neighbors right here at home.