Why Me to We Artisans?
Meet the Maasai Mamas
Me to We Artisans is a line of original accessories, handcrafted by artisans in Free The Children countries across the globe. Each unique piece is a connection between you and a working artisan, sustainably produced and using as much local supply as possible.
The Story of Me to We Artisans
Accessories tend to offer mere accentuation. At Me to We, they have a central focus – a real purpose beyond the fashion statement (which, of course, is important, too!). It’s accessorizing in order to change the world. Each of these accessories are handcrafted by artisans in Free The Children countries around the world and sustainably produced.
Founder Roxanne Joyal was inspired to create Me to We Artisans after witnessing talented Maasai beaders forced to travel daily to small tourist markets flooded with similar products, where they would sometimes sell their intricate beadwork at a loss. Today, the mamas are able to earn twice as much as before—without giving up their traditional way of life.
Gathered under acacia trees with their young children in tow, the Maasai mamas bead using art forms passed down mother-to-daughter through the generations, turning their traditional handiwork into a livelihood. By joining Artisans, each woman is empowered to build her savings and do things she never would have believed possible: improve her home, buy food and medicine for her family, send her children to school, and believe that her skills and her voice have value.
The artisans are paid a fair wage for their work – often two to three times what they were earning before. Through this employment they are able to pay their children’s school fees, buy necessities such as food, clothing and medicine, and improve their homes. Working towards financial independence through this sustainable source of income, the women of Me to We Artisans are building a future for themselves and their families, one beautiful beaded item at a time.
- As a result of Me to We Artisans, 612 Maasai mamas are now employed full-time in Kenya.
- Mamas are now able to pay school fees for their children, improve their homes with tin roofs and can buy food, clothing and medicine for their families.
- The mamas take part in financial literacy and leadership trainings throughout the year, making them integral part of their community’s sustainable success.
- The mamas are now in a position to contribute to community-wide initiatives like construction of classrooms and community gardens.
The impact of Me to We Artisans resides not only in the economic benefit for these artisans, most of whom are women; it is also a means of encouraging leadership and positively affecting the community on a larger scale. The mamas take part in financial literacy and leadership trainings throughout the year, and they are now in a rightful position to lead in their communities, which has not historically been an opportunity available to them.
Now that’s accessorizing with impact.
Artisans Magazine from our Archives
New! Vol.4 – Spring/Summer 2013
Vol.3 – Fall/Winter 2012
Vol.2 – Summer 2012
Vol.1 – Fall/Winter 2011
From the sun-soaked plains of the Maasai Mara, to the bustling cities of North America, summertime is when the world [...]
(Appeared in the Vancouver Sun May 10, 2013) – by Kevin Griffin A Maasai woman from Kenya who was the [...]
(Appeared in the National Post April 20, 2013) — Roxanne Joyal identified the problem as a simple case of supply and demand. In [...]
(Appeared in The Globe and Mail April 16, 2013) — Volunteer on trips to Kenya and India Aeroplan has added Free [...]