EDUN discovered Doreen’s exquisite work at the Origin 2012 conference in Ethiopia last Spring. After learning of her deep love of African cultural heritage, which she blends with a Western design philosophy in her contemporary work, the fit was natural.
Doreen Mashika returned to her hometown of Zanzibar, Tanzania in 2007 to start her business after spending several years in Switzerland working in luxury goods fund management. Her namesake line consists of shoes, bags, and jewelry, all handmade in Tanzania.
Doreen partners with women’s groups in local villages who largely hand-make their products using traditional African workmanship techniques. “I visit the villages so I can meet my crafters and purposely build a relationship that cultivates high levels of mutual appreciation, respect and trust,” Doreen says of her inspiring work.
In employing these women, she is making a positive impact on their everyday lives and ultimately creating change in her Zanzibar community. They have access to clean water and decent health facilities, something they never had before. “Enabling people to live decently is the most rewarding part of my job. When you can link it to beautiful products – it’s a dream come true,” she says.
Zanzibar too plays a strong role in the influence of her collections. “Zanzibar has a rich history of its cross-winds and old-colonial trading routes-as a result, it has for centuries been a cosmopolitan and multi-cultural melting pot,” Mashika says. And it’s evident in her designs, which are Contemporary and unique while identifiably African.
Ms. Mashika’s unique designs aren’t for your every day woman. She is a global woman. She is searching for innovative accessories to enhance her individual style. Michelle Obama already owns one of her bags, and Doreen won’t quit until she has fully accessorized her.
Edun is proud to add her to the growing list of African artisans we work with in Africa.
As Mashika says, “Fashion brought from Africa comes along with its cultural and historical richness. The wealth of materials and techniques used in handwork is something unique that may not be easily found in other parts of the world. They are pieces to admire and treasure.” We couldn’t agree more.
Photos courtesy of Doreen Mashika