Doreen Mashika, who was born and raised in Tanzania, studied & worked in Switzerland and is now part of a growing homeward bound African diaspora. While in Switzerland, she began a career in the financial industry, specializing in luxury goods fund management. This is where she had her first contact with the fashion industry and designers, providing her a unique insight and appreciation of the sector.
Inspired by a deep sense of affection for the cultural heritage and wealth of design possibilities in Africa, she returned to Tanzania and settled in Zanzibar in 2007 to pursue her passion of design while building a successful company. We visited her store on a Zanzibar trip this year and are in absolute awe of this ladies work and what she has built up.
Doreen partners with women’s groups in local villages who largely hand-make their products using traditional African workmanship techniques.
“I visit the villages so I can meet my crafters and purposely build a relationship that cultivates high levels of mutual appreciation, respect and trust,” Doreen says of her inspiring work.
In employing these women, she is making a positive impact on their everyday lives and ultimately creating change in her Zanzibar community. They have access to clean water and decent health facilities, something they never had before. “Enabling people to live decently is the most rewarding part of my job. When you can link it to beautiful products – it’s a dream come true,” she says.
EDUN discovered Doreen’s exquisite work at the Origin 2012 conference in Ethiopia last Spring. After learning of her deep love of African cultural heritage, which she blends with a Western design philosophy in her contemporary work, the fit was natural.
So to hear that she has collaborated with one another favourite African made fashion brands Edun is remarkable. They have collaborated on a special collection of accessories specifically for the holiday season.
She says about Zanzibar’s influence on the collection:
“Zanzibar has a rich history of its cross-winds and old-colonial trading routes-as a result, it has for centuries been a cosmopolitan and multi-cultural melting pot,”
Mashika says. And it’s evident in her designs, which are Contemporary and unique while identifiably African.
“The nature I find around the island is quite interesting, I think finding form and function inspired by nature plays a significant role in creating a brilliant design. Going outside to be inspired is the most enjoyable research I love to take part in. Nature never fails to produce something new and interesting. This is quite visible in the Zanzibar Collection for EDUN.”
Ms. Mashika’s unique designs aren’t for your every day woman. She is a global woman. She is searching for innovative accessories to enhance her individual style. Michelle Obama already owns one of her bags, and Doreen won’t quit until she has fully accessorized her.
Edun say they are proud to add her to the growing list of African artisans they work with in Africa.
As Mashika says, “Fashion brought from Africa comes along with its cultural and historical richness. The wealth of materials and techniques used in handwork is something unique that may not be easily found in other parts of the world. They are pieces to admire and treasure.”
High-5 to you Doreen!
Photos courtesy of Doreen Mashika