Visiting Northern Tanzania for the first time in 2009, I was fascinated by the Maasai tribes, especially their beautiful beaded jewelry, which is created by the women and worn by everyone from an early age.

Through some chance encounters, I met and later became good friends with a Maasai family, and through them I started learning about their culture. The more I learned, the more I understood the hard life women have in Maasai society. Often illiterate and married by age 13, they are completely dependent on the men for income, yet they have incredible beading skills that could give them a chance for self-sufficiency.

In 2011, I started Sidai Designs to help improve the lives of these Maasai women. We aim to create sustainable employment by having the women use their existing beading skills to create beautiful jewelry that combines traditional and modern designs.

What’s in the name? Sidai means “good” in the Maasai tribal language, Maa.