When German brand Hiitu reached out for a collab I did what I always do when this happens. I go take a look at the brand's website and see if its values are aligned with mine.
Well, with Hiitu they sure were. The founders travel the world to offer jewelery, clothing bags and other accessories handmade by artisans who not only are paid a fair wage, they also receive the recognition they deserve for creating such beautiful pieces thanks to the detailed description of each product stating who made it and where does it come from. Talk about transparency!
Among the products offered by Hiitu, the Masaai jeweleries were definitely love at first sight. Being particularly sensitive to african craftmanship and colorful accessories I was sold. So here's the story behind those gorgeous pieces that make a difference.
Crafted by a foundation of Masaai women called the Basecamp Foundation, they're a traditional masaai design merged with Hiitu's color and pattern ideas, making them the perfect mix between authenticity and modernity. The project is super important locally as the space in the Masaai Mara has become a vital social hub for the women to share ideas and come together to solve problems (and we all know what can come out of women empowerment right?).
The foundation guarantees that 75% of monthly payments go directly to the ladies, with the remaining 25% management costs and the purchase of additional equipment and new materials are covered. However, where possible the women use recycled materials such as tins, plastics and wood from a recycling program based at the camp. In total, the fair-trade brand now employs 118 women, who through their work are able to achieve a vital economic independence, which enables them to pay their children’s school fees, purchase additional livestock and build more functional homes. The Basecamp Masaai Brand also provides training opportunities for the women to improve their technique, learn about wealth creation and get an understanding of how to improve their standards of living.
Hiitu started working with the brand in 2016 and I had the chance to read their description of their first meeting with the women and it's so so so moving. The collaboration has led to several necklaces including the one I'm wearing on the pictures as well as rings made for which the pipes are sourced from recycled cans of natural insect spray that are used in the lodge, are cut and formed and the glass beads are then strung along the pipe in various patterns.
I'm a HUGE advocate for craftsmanship and giving local communities the means to be financially independent without loosing their knowledge and traditions and this is why I'm such a fan of what the girls from Hiitu are doing. These jewelery would make a perfect gift but also have a huge positive impact on women empowerment and traditional knowledge conservation. How's that for a story to tell with your next gift?