Ali Lamu
This is the story of Ali Lamu. It’s a love story.

One day in 2008 a Kenyan fisherman walked into the workshop of a Swiss artist who was mending a broken heart and asked for a job. The artist didn’t have a job for the fisherman, but she did have a need for some old tanga, which means Indian dow (fishing boat) sail in Kiswahili. She regarded tanga as a piece of art created by the years spent exposed to the wind, rain, sun and salt of the Indian Ocean, and she wanted to use it as a canvas. The fisherman knew where old tanga was plentiful and returned with some a few days later. The color was magnificent, sepia tinged and sun baked, impossible to reproduce even if one tried hard…time and weather were the masters of this material.

The artist and the fisherman began to paint, at first a broken heart, then whatever the mood of the moment inspired. They painted poems, people, animals and stars, even the occasional squid. They wanted to share their message of “love, love and more love” with people all over the world so the artist and the fisherman turned the tangas into handbags, each crafted and painted by hand then set out underneath the Kenyan sun to dry.

The Ali Lamu bag you buy is truly one of a kind. Carry it with all the love you can.

Francesca Torri Soldini
for Tanzania Maasai Women’s Art

Leave it to the Italians to help spark a renaissance.

In 2006, designer Francesca Torri Soldini and her students at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) in Milan embarked on a radical journey with Swiss Conservationist Tati Oliver and the Maasai women of Mkuru. Together, with Istituto Oikos and Oikos East Africa, they initiated the Maasai Women Art project to create business and education opportunities for the talented jewelry makers of Tanzania. Two short years later, fueled by Tati’s energy and leadership, Tanzania Maasai Women Art Limited (TMWA) was registered as an independent non-profit company with its own location in a bustling shopping center in Arusha. Amazing. From humble surroundings to prime retail space in twenty-four months.

Each piece in this expressive collection is an eclectic combination of Italian elegance, traditional Maasai artistry and technical precision with the spirit of the individual artisan ingrained in the materials and design. In Tanzania, women use jewelry to make themselves beautiful, attract mates and communicate their status within the community. Now, thanks to Francesca, Tati and TMWA, they’re using jewelry to create better lives.