Doreen Mashika Brings Fair Trade Fashion Accessories Out of Africa ,Fashion & Beauty

    Doreen Mashika Brings Fair Trade Fashion Accessories Out of Africa

    Why we're excited about Fair Trade accessories designer Doreen Mashika 

You'd be forgiven for wanting Doreen Mashika's adorable clutches and gemstone-covered ballet flats for their cuteness factor alone. So how excited are you to learn that Doreen's handbags, shoes, and jewelry are also the very epitome of Fair Trade and sustainable design?

Born in Tanzania, educated in Italy and England, Doreen Mashika spent the first part of her career in luxury goods fund management in Switzerland but says, "My heart has always been here in Tanzania and I knew I would return." When she did, she decided to combine her European-honed fashion sense and business skills with her passion for African vintage jewelry (which she describes as "mystical, intricate, and yet functional") to start a business that would give back to her community as well. "Jewelry and handbags are such effortless ways to communicate your individual style, as well as your own views and ideas," Doreen says. "The Southern Hemisphere is home to a vast and impressive array of unique gemstones and environmentally friendly materials so I knew I wanted to use those materials to reinvent these classic, much-loved accessories."

doreen mashika

Photo credit: Doreen Mashika

After Doreen designs a bag or shoe, she partners with women's groups in local villages who make the goods largely by hand, using traditional African workmanship techniques. Fair pay is just the beginning: "I visit the villages so I can meet my crafters and purposely and painstakingly build a relationship that cultivates high levels of mutual appreciation, respect and trust," Doreen explains. She uses only 100 percent Tanzanian-grown cotton, which she purchases from women vendors in Dar es Salaam. "We don't have an organic certification program here, so I can't be certain that's what I'm getting, but people here are very skeptical of chemicals and don't use them or use them sparingly," she notes. Doreen also sources recycled "stones of the earth," native gemstones that each carry a symbolic meaning and recycled glass and beads. "I do feel the pressure to go through bulk suppliers for beads, but I'll continue to support small market vendors as I can still absorb their prices," she says.

Doreen's accessories are coming soon to American retailers. In the meantime, contact her at her website for more product info and how to buy.

doreen mashika