Maiyet: A Conversation with Paul van Zyl

The True Cost
August 1, 2015

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.