The MZ Blog

The Leakey Collection

At Manos Zapotecas, we feel very fortunate to have a such a stellar community of like-minded fair trade fashion brands within the Fair Trade Federation. We have connected with five of them in order to bring our greater community five weeks of giveaways building up to World Fair Trade Day on May 11th. For the first week, Manos Zapotecas is teaming up with The Leakey Collection to host a bag/bracelet giveaway package on both Facebook and Instagram.

Katy and Philip Leakey are the owners and pioneers of the natural, African-made, sustainable jewelry and elegant, handcrafted products called The Leakey Collection. Based in the Rift Valley of Kenya, East Africa, these renowned designers used natural elements of fallen wood, sustainable grass and “bush fired” porcelain to create uniquely exotic products. Each colorful piece contains vibrant design appeal while giving back to those that produce it.

We caught up with The Leakey Collection to learn more.

MZ: How and why was The Leakey Collection started?

The Leakey Collection: In 2002, a terrible drought persisted after several years of ruin and devastation to the pasture lands. The Maasai’s livelihood disappeared as their cattle died. The men had to drive the few remaining cattle hundreds of miles away in search for better grazing while the women looked desperately for ways to feed, clothe, and educate their children and obtain medical supplies. Philip and Katy Leakey, who live among the Maasai in the Kenyan bush, wanted to help their neighbors and provide them with work opportunities without changing their culture. They came up with an imaginative idea to utilize the excellent beading abilities of the Maasai women by using a readily available, sustainable resource – GRASS – as the primary element.

the leakey collection

MZ: Would you like to talk about your mission, vision and commitment to fair trade?

The Leakey Collection: Living amongst the Maasai, we have a deep appreciation for their culture. We worked with the women to create a system that worked for them.

MZ: Can you give me a bit of insight into your design and production process?

The Leakey Collection: We design for the contemporary, global marketplace. We utilize sustainable, natural resources such as grass and fallen wood in our production. We are committed to green living so with all of our processes, we educate our artisans on the environmental impact. The harvesting of the grass has actually works to preserve the wetlands since the communities no longer burn the grass, which cattle do not eat, to make room for the plentiful grass that cattle do eat.

MZ: Who is your typical consumer and how does your brand fit in to their fashion sense and lifestyle?

The Leakey Collection: customers range from teens to women in their 60’s and above. Our jewelry has become a consumable as many gift it while wearing it as a thank you and to share the word of Fair Trade to others. Because the jewelry comes in all colors and can be worn as a bracelet, necklace, anklet and more it allows consumers to adapt it to any fashion they choose, day or evening. Zulugrass is timeless because of its versatility.


MZ: Is there anything else you would like to share?

The Leakey Collection: The work provided by assembling our jewelry has created a sustainable income allowing the women to feed families, educate children and start other businesses such as their own micro-finance. The income for women has elevated the entire community and the women are highly valued and proud contributors to building a sustainable future for all.


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