Paul van Zyl
Co-Founder & CEO, Maiyet
Prior to founding Maiyet, Paul was known for pioneering new approaches to human rights protection; he has advised countries around the world on how to facilitate transitions to peace and democracy following periods of mass atrocity and human rights abuse.
Tell us about your company Maiyet?
Maiyet is first and foremost a luxury fashion brand that is pioneering a new luxury by celebrating rare skills from unexpected places. We incorporate ancient traditions in untraditional ways by partnering with artisans in developing economies and by sourcing material in ethical ways. We create limited exquisite product in limited editions. The hope is that by doing so we promote entrepreneurship, prosperity, and dignity in places that need it most.
What lead you to start it?
I wanted to try and build a brand that would provide dignity to people who needed it most with products that would be able to stand on their own and be desirable on their own terms. I am a human rights lawyer from South Africa and providing assistance to the most marginal and vulnerable has always been a part of my life and work.
Why the focus on rare artisanal skills?
Because artisanship is at the root of luxury and people are looking for a brand and products that are truly differentiated. We work with a complement of artisans who have truly exceptional skills in either the development of stunning textiles and/or creating exquisite product–we work with a knitting cooperative in Bolivia, silk weavers in Varanasi, Block Printers in India, goat herders in Mongolia and jewelry makers in Thailand to name a few – and their skills provide them with a competitive advantage.
To read the full article, visit The True Cost.