Malulu’s supplier of high-quality collars is Atelier Zinj. The word ‘Atelier’ means a room or a building in which an artist works. ‘Zinj’ derives from the name given by the 5th Century BC Greek historian, Herodotus, to describe the ancient Swahili coast, from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique.
Atelier Zinj has now trained over 80 artisans from Takaungu and the surrounding area. This unusual little workshop, in a tiny village overlooking the Indian Ocean, is dedicated to promoting East African bead and leather work internationally, and to improving the lives of East African craftspeople at home.
Before joining the team at Atelier Zinj, many of the villagers were either unemployed or working only very sporadically in poorly paid agricultural jobs. The benefits of the sustainable employment of so many people are far reaching within the local community. Women have particularly benefitted, as there is virtually no employment for them in the area. Poverty means very few women ever go to school, yet many must raise a large family alone. Women have been encouraged to attend training sessions and take on what is traditionally a man’s craft.
Atelier Zinj not only provides employment, but also advice and support. It is their policy that each worker has their wages paid into the worker’s bank account, rather than as cash. For many, this is the first time they have ever had a bank account. This system helps them to better manage their money and encourages them to save for the future.
The steady income these workers are now earning means that they can settle down with their families and send their children to school. These successes are reflected in Atelier Zinj’s motto: Changing Lives One Bead at a Time! Malulu has been working with Atelier Zinj since 2013, and together they have developed a strong professional relationship. Louise Edwards has designed Malulu’s best-selling patterns, Mombasa Red, Mombasa Pink, Mombasa Green, Malindi Yellow, Union Jack and Kilifi Blue. Together with Atelier Zinj’s design team, Malulu has also introduced other ranges to the collections, including the skinny and lurcher collection and two new designs – Zanzibar Gold and Stars & Stripes.