To Top

Kenyan Women’s Beaded Bags Featured in Vogue

As you flip through the pages of Vogue, a magazine noted for its high fashion and upscale design, you may be taken by surprise when coming across an article about hand-beaded bags from Africa.

In a magazine that advertises purses, bags, and clutches that can cost upwards of thousands of dollars, these unique beaded bags priced between $100 and $150 are just as eye-catching. Not only are they beautiful, but they tell a story.

Antonia Stogdale, a woman of Kenyan ancestry raised in England, returned to Kenya in 2007. She worked with local people from remote Mukogodo to help them produce first-class cuisine at Tassia Lodge.

In 2008, Stogdale took on another project, collaborating with Maasai women to produce hand-beaded bags, belts, and bracelets. Before beginning her project, she made sure to clear it with the chief. “He was happy to let me, as long as I didn’t disrupt the natural order of things.”

What he meant by this was that the Maasai women have very busy lives and many responsibilities. In addition to taking care of their homes, their children, and their farm animals, they walk many miles a day to collect water and firewood. Their new endeavor of creating these bags would have to fit into their existing lives. Their bags, designed by Stogdale and created by the Maasai, are advertised as and are indeed “made in a mud hut.”

The AnTassia Bead Project is intended to “preserve the traditional Maasai way of life by harnessing the beading skills of the women and create a sustainable source of income for the women and their families.” Although the bags are designed by Stogdale, each of the 100 women that do the actual beading add their
own style and skill to each of the one of a kind bags. One bag takes about two weeks to complete, not only because of the intricacy of the work involved, but also because the women cannot afford to spend all of their time working on them.

The women get paid for each of the bags they create, providing them with a sustainable income that they in turn use primarily to provide education for their families. In addition to education, the women will also use their incomes to improve their home lives and to barter for such modern conveniences as solar lights and mobile phones.

The AnTassia Bead Project has provided the Maasai women with a way to use their native beading skills to help empower themselves and to provide for their families. By creating a well-made, attractive, and useful product, and by giving them a means by which to distribute them throughout the world, Stogdale has enabled the Mukogodo Maasai women to have some control over their own lives and the lives of their children.

If you’re wondering where you can purchase one of these bags to help these hard working women from this remote village in Northern Kenya, you will find them on Antonia Stogdale’s website.

Featured Image by cathy andersen on Flickr

Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Badass Women