A Tribe in Transition
Traditionally symbolizing beauty and prosperity, beadwork has held an essential place in Maasai culture and is typically passed down through the generations by women.
In between chores, young girls in the village would sit next to their mother and watch as she handcrafted everyday and ceremonial adornments to either wear or sell.
As the Maasai’s pastoral lands are encroached upon and families move closer to urban areas, subtle changes in traditional garb highlight the transition of this tribe. Previously time-honored Maasai beadwork is being swapped out for cheap imported plastic bangles. This decline in appreciation for beadwork by Maasai youth could result in traditional skills being lost forever.
Our mission is to preserve this age-old Maasai tradition through sustainable employment for Maasai women. By using our knowledge of modern and timeless design to enhance Maasai beadwork, we create stunning pieces to be worn or displayed in homes worldwide; ultimately inspiring a new generation of beaders.
We believe that introducing modern design principles to traditional Maasai beadwork can create the demand that can support its preservation.
We believe that beautiful design should empower, and that Maasai women should be able to earn a sustainable and fair living from their craft. We strive to create a support network for Maasai women because an employed, safe woman can create a stronger community around her.
We believe that collaborating on beautiful design that empowers is our way of creating good in the world.
We work with over 120 beaders who specialize in creating unique, contemporary beaded designs that appeal to a global market. We are invested in upskilling and educating our artisans and run workshops to improve their skills and knowledge.
We are uncompromising when it comes to quality of our materials. Using high quality materials set us apart from any other Maasai beadwork and allows our customers to enjoy everyday wear.
A limited quantity of our designs is available at a time. Creating small batches using slow, handcrafted production methods exemplifies our commitment to impact over mass production. Every purchase, big and small, generates work for Maasai women.
Innovation & Creativity
Our pieces are inspired by the adornments worn by our beaders, merged with our modern design sensibility. They are developed using our knowledge of the traditional construction of Maasai jewelry.
Spending time at Masaai villages in northern Tanzania provided an opportunity to see first-hand the incredible skill and beauty involved in Maasai beadwork. We were in awe and knew it would be adored by design lovers around the world – and so Sidai was born!
Like any handmade business, we started small. Our inception was with just 5 beaders in a small workshop down a dusty back road in Arusha, Tanzania. We grew into a community of more than 120 Maasai beaders and into a center, now open to visitors for shopping and beading workshops.
Since 2014 we have launched jewelry and homeware collections internationally in New York, Paris and London. We have collaborated with Anthropologie, Merci Paris, The Conran Store, Tomorrowland, the Metropolitan Art Museum, NY MOMA and ABC Home Furnishing INC and many more. Our pieces can be found in stores in over 30 countries around the world.
Why do we do what we do?
Maasai livelihoods rely heavily on cattle and land, which are subject to climate conditions and land degradation and are therefore not stable. Due to an embedded patriarchal system, Maasai women often have little access to their own resources, education, and sustainable livelihoods.
The resilience of Maasai women can be seen in how they hold the village on their shoulders. Co-wives work together to raise several children and care for other family members. The task of child rearing and nurturing others is done with gratitude, love, joy, and a lot of laughter (and some singing and dancing).
With a fair and sustainable income, supported by educational workshops, the Maasai women at Sidai Designs are equipped with the resources to design a beautiful future for their families and community.