Made in Kenia and Spain
Far away, in the Maasai Mara, women can once again be seen stitching under an acacia. Taking advantage of the shade and with the only goal of building a future for their families, hundreds of Maasai women from Kenya and Tanzania hand stitch the leather used in the Pikolinos Spring-Summer collection.
They are the people behind the Maasai Project, which has planted hope and harvested progress in the heart of Africa.
A story behind every shoe
Each sandal includes the story of a Maasai woman, her family, her challenges, and her determination to get ahead.
Hundreds of women participate in this project that provides them with a stable income. The work allows them to maintain their culture and lifestyle, and the wages earned make it possible for their families to buy basic commodities such as education, food, and medicine.
Two cultures that are committed to the same project
Lilian Ole Pere, the wife of the Maasai leader in Kenya, is responsible for supervising the production of all the women who work with Pikolinos leather. She trains, advises, and guides hundreds of women throughout the Maasai Mara.
In Spain, Leonor Villalba uses her closing machine to stitch each piece of leather as she gives shape to the final product, inspects the quality of every stitch, and admires the dedication of every piece that has been sent from the Maasai Mara.
A single project connects these two women who live in two different realities, and it is only logical for them to meet and share their work, visions, and experiences.
Leonor traveled to Kenya, nervous but excited to get to know her faraway colleagues who work in the immense savanna, accompanied by the tinkling sound of decorations that create the background music for every stitch.
There, surrounded by the purest nature, she coexisted with a culture that is very different from her own. She traded the closing machines for the precision of her fingers, and she swapped the sound of machinery for the songs of the Maasai people. She brought these experiences back with her to Spain, where she was eager to welcome Lilian into her home and show her how the Maasai creations become sandals.
For the first time in her life, Lilian left the Mara. She boarded a plane that would fly her to Spain, accompanied by a combination of fear, emotion, and excitement, as well as a strong desire to learn and to discover new places.
At the Pikolinos Production Center, she paid close attention to every step of the manufacturing process, participated in the quality controls, and was taken aback by the computer systems used in Western industries.
The connection of two worlds and the combination of two cultures into a single project is apparent in the gazes of these two women who represent an entire team and allow Pikolinos to feel proud of a project that crosses borders.
A coordinated production
The leather is cut in Spain according to the designs, and the pieces are then sent to the Maasai Mara where they are distributed among the manyattas (the settlements where the Maasai people live) participating in the project.
There, thousands of kilometers away and in the African savanna without roads, speaking in Swahili and surrounded by wild animals, the women create a unique work environment where the Pikolinos leather is embroidered with the typical insignias, colors, and designs of their cultural identity.
Every stitch is accompanied by smiles, chants, and conversations. Without leaving their homeland or interfering with their culture or lifestyle, they have learned the meaning of a shoe last, a technical data sheet, and a quality control. These women create their own production process and set their own hours and work pace.
Once the embroidery has been completed, the leather products processed by the Maasai women are sent back to Spain where they are transformed into a pair of Pikolinos sandals that convey the essence of this community.
Another world is possible
An important aspect of this project is the role of ADCAM (Association for Development, Alternative Commerce, and Micro Credits). Its two leaders, Rosa Escandell and William Kikanae, are the individuals who have made this initiative possible and who have spent more than 15 years working on the project’s viability and operations. They remain committed to the economic sustainability of the Maasai community and to preserving its culture and lifestyle.
Pikolinos is one of the most important Spanish footwear brands on an international level. It is present in more than 60 countries and it has always focused on cooperation and fair trade projects involving underprivileged nations.
Our shoes are defined by the comfort, color, and quality of the leather they are made of, and they convey the warmth of handcrafted products. These values are perfectly connected with developing a special line together with the Maasai tribe. Colorful embroidery that is hand-stitched in Kenya is then used to create sandals that are made with love in Spain.