ALAMA is a culture-to-wear label that empowers a group of Maasai women artisans from Northern Tanzania. The 35 women artisans who design and produce ALAMA's one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces are members of the Maasai tribe of the upland steppes of Tanzania. "ALAMA" means "symbol" in Swahili – each traditional jewelry design from our collection is a symbol of the Maasai culture and traditions.
MAKING MEANINGFUL IMPACTS
ALAMA was founded in 2015 with the support of Africa Amini Alama, an NGO based in Momella (Northern Tanzania) which improves the living conditions of the Maasai and Meru tribes of Tanzania by providing them with free health care and social help, as well as free educational programs. In addition, the NGO invests into GMO-free agricultural production and sustainable tourism projects which are managed by the Maasai themselves. Working in close collaboration with ALAMA, the NGO is also supported by our brand. Our aim is to donate 30% of the profits generated through our jewelry sales to the PAMOJA SECONDARY SCHOOL, an educational project initiated by Africa Amini Alama and the Maasais themselves.
EMPOWERING MAASAI WOMEN ARTISANS
Our jewelry is handmade by a group of Maasai women at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro and traditionally worn by Maasai women and men. Our aim is to give voice and visibility to all the Maasai women artisans who work for ALAMA, as they might otherwise not be heard and respected by the international fashion industry as they ought to be. The 35 Maasai women who design and produce jewelry for ALAMA are their own bosses. They all benefit from higher revenues, by showcasing and selling their handmade jewelry on our online platform and in selected multi-brand stores. Each jewelry piece is related to the Maasai woman who made it: it is delivered in a traditional Maasai pouch and comes with an information card on which you can see a picture of the woman artisan who made your jewelry, her name and the meaning of the purchased jewelry piece.
PROMOTING SUSTAINABLE CRAFTMANSHIP
Committed to both the preservation of the Maasai tribe's cultural heritage and sustainable craftsmanship, ALAMA's jewelry collection grows organically, with unique and handmade statement pieces, instead of seasonal offerings, and with a zero waste policy. Each jewelry design is produced in limited edition in order to put an emphasis on the uniqueness of the Maasai women’s style and precious craftsmanship. Our women artisans work only with vegan leather, as well as with recycled plastic and rice bag threads, and with glass beads and metal pendants that they purchase from local markets in Northern Tanzania. When you wear ALAMA, you can be sure that your jewellery was made with respect for people, animals and the environment.
ENABLING CULTURAL RE-APPROPRIATION
The Maasai suffer from vast cultural appropriation and overall pillaging of their heritage: over a thousand companies sell products ranging from clothes to cars that use the Maasai name or symbols illegally. ALAMA believes there is a neo-colonial power imbalance in this dynamic that needs to be fought against – “the powerful appropriate the powerless” – and that fashion brands who misuse indigenous cultures should face legal actions. Our aim is therefore to create a strong bond between the Maasai craftsmanship and the international luxury and fashion industry through a range of ethical and meaningful collaborations. We believe that design methods and craftsmanship should be decolonialized in all sectors, and that indigenous cultural heritage – such as the one of the Maasai people – should be valued, respected, protected and empowered.