Maisha Concept is a part of me, which is why when I tell you my story, I am telling the Maisha story, too.
There are times I look back and wonder:
What if I never grew up in Kenya?
What if I never left the world of finance?
What if I never travelled to my roots in India?
What if I did not inherit this wild, passionate love for textiles from my dad?
Because I know, ultimately, these were all key to Maisha. I left an early life surrounded by the lush Kenyan wilderness to join the concrete, corporate jungle of Hong Kong. I spent years in the financial sector before listening to what my heart really wanted: to celebrate my roots and give life to the stories I grew up with – through the clothing that we wear.
Maisha means ‘giving life’ in Swahili.
I made this mental connection when I moved to Hong Kong. People around me were genuinely interested in the bright African fabrics I incorporated into my outfits – it became a conversation starter where I could share anecdotes of life back in Kenya. I knew then that this was how I could showcase African and Indian culture to the world.
Maisha began in 2015, when I left the corporate world for good. It was an exciting time to have an artisanal brand, but nerve-wracking, too! This was my chance to share what I have with the world, and I wanted to get it right. That meant forging relationships with local artisans; travelling extensively to where they live; and learning their ways and traditions. Africa, I realised, was a vast fabric stitched out of interweaving stories, lives and people across time. It made me see the world differently: all around us, there were people to learn from and connect with, as long as we care to listen.
In giving life to the stories, we are also helping our artisans with work opportunities, skills development and trying to uplift their standard of living.
Maisha’s journey took years of showing up and doing everything to make things work. Getting to know a country, a village, a family, a person, doesn’t happen overnight. Championing handcrafted clothing had its challenges, too. In the early years, very little was known about slow fashion and artisanal clothing. It was through persistence and the changing of mindsets that people began to take an interest in the slow fashion movement. I was fortunate to have met inspirational individuals who wanted high-quality, artisanal clothing. They loved their clothes, were curious of how their clothes were made, and were fascinated by the history behind it. Maisha became part of a global movement for better clothing, arm-in-arm with skilled artisans, influencers, collaborators, game-changers and friends.
It continues to be an eye-opening experience, and I am glad to be part of it. I hope you are, too.