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.