Sidai Designs: BEAUTIFUL, MODERN JEWELRY THAT PRESERVES MAASAI TRADITION
May 21, 20193 min read
BEAUTIFUL, MODERN JEWELRY THAT PRESERVES MAASAI TRADITION
The idea for Sidai designs came about through a meeting of minds. In 2009, Eszter Rabin, a creative director and entrepreneur, met Emmanuel Melubo Laizer, a Maasai warrior, and they discovered their shared interest in helping under-served communities.
Fast forward ten years, and Sidai Designs is a thriving social enterprise that supports Maasai women in Tanzania by collaborating with them to create high-end, modern jewelry based on traditional beading techniques. The organization is simultaneously elevating traditional craftsmanship, preserving traditions, creating sustainable employment and empowering women.
COMBINING MAASAI CRAFT WITH A CONTEMPORARY AESTHETIC
Central to Sidai’s design approach is a focus on preserving the rich heritage of Maasai beadwork and sharing this with the world. The aim is to reflect the uniqueness of the culture, while maintaining a contemporary aesthetic.Many of the jewelry pieces feature patterns, shapes and colors that are directly connected to ceremonial Maasai jewelry.
DESIGNS & DETAILS THAT TELL TRIBAL STORIES
It’s the details that make Sidai’s jewelry pieces meaningful and evocative. The collection features a leather beaded cuff which depicts a young man’s journey from boyhood to warriorhood – he wears black and adorns himself with white beaded jewelry and detailed face markings.
The simple Endito necklace is a tribute to young Maasai girls, who sit with their mothers and learn to bead while singing songs. Until they are ready to marry, the young girls wear only simply strung beaded jewelry.
The Maasai’s homelands are also referenced in the jewelry. The Porcupine earrings are inspired by quills of these animals found on Mount Kilimanjaro, as high up as 11,480 feet.The simple, flattering beaded Kisongo necklace is inspired by the golden rays of an African sunset.
It’s not just the backstories that make Sidai jewelry special; each individual piece is truly unique. Because everything is handmade, no two pieces will ever be exactly the same. Different hands craft each piece and the slight irregularities and differences are a celebrated mark of artisanship and beauty.
EMPOWERING WOMEN & THEIR COMMUNITIES
Sidai empowers and supports women by creating a sense of purpose and hope through sustainable employment. The organization believes firmly that creativity increases opportunities for self-expression and enjoyment, increases a sense of self-esteem and builds social capital.
Through Sidai’s commitment to paying a fair income, the women are able to contribute towards education for their children and savings for their family. For the team at Sidai, true empowerment is not just about the benefit it can bring to the individual, it is also about creating hope, pride and opportunity amongst the Maasai community.
ETHICAL FOR PEOPLE & FOR THE PLANET
Rather than using mass-produced materials, Sidai favors the traditional materials with which these pieces are made in the village. A combination of ingeniously upcycled products are used: traditional glass beads are intricately joined using thread salvaged from old grain bags and enhanced with recycled metal beads, old canisters and yoghurt pots create the boning. The jewelry is elegantly finished with luxury soft leather, sterling silver and gold plated beads.
WHY WE LOVE SIDAI
I handpicked Sidai for Sarza customers because I am passionate about bringing you bold stories from Africa. The Maasai’s beading techniques have been a mark of their beauty and prosperity for centuries so I am delighted to share this with you. From a design perspective, I love the combination of heritage craft and a modern aesthetic. I am proud to support an organization that is sustainable, ethical and driving female empowerment. Sidai means beauty or good in Maa, the Maasai language and, in every sense, this jewelry is exactly that.