As my 10-week long summer internship with Allure magazine came to a close I took no time jumping into my next endeavor, helping out at a social venture fashion start-up company. For a short 2 days last week, I had the wonderful opportunity of interning at a new socially innovative fashion brand that is set to launch during New York’s upcoming Spring 2012 Fashion Week. Maiyet, a luxury clothing brand, that will soon be in comparison to the names such as Balenciaga and Hermes, will be showcased in high-end retailers coming this January. Not only are their clothes incredibly visually appealing but their social initiative behind the company is one in its own. Partnering with companies located in developing countries worldwide, Maiyet (who’s name comes from the Greek God of harmony, justice, and truth “Maat”), is able to empower small artisans to create beautifully made products that can be sold worldwide. Some of the profit that is made from selling these clothes and accessories is then turned around and put back in the hands of the artisans to teach them the training and skills they need to improve their business. Watching how Maiyet is able to take small town artisans and give them the motivation and guidance they need to move from embroidering on poorly made fabric that they sell in their tight-knit village to embroidering on high quality textiles sold to high-end retailers is truly amazing. Each of these diverse companies that Maiyet works with is hand chosen through a selection process where the company’s founders spent one year traveling across the globe meeting with each and every small business deciding which ones they should create partnerships with.
As one of my tasks while interning there, I researched each of the companies and tried to find as much background information on them as I could (some being very difficult because they had no website and were no where to be found online). Some of the main countries they work with are Africa, India, Colombia, Kenya, and Indonesia. Especially after my trip last summer to Africa, I was definitely able to see the potential in their artisans. The talent is noticeably there but their motivation and drive is what they were truly lacking, which is where Maiyet comes in to lend a hand.
Being a start-up company, they still had not launched their own website, which ended up being really interesting advantage for me. I had the opportunity to sit in on one of their meetings with the web design team they were working to create their site. Decisions had to be made right and left, down to the exact color grade of the background on the homepage. Whether the logo was going to be straight or curved, the littlest decisions seemed so important and everyone gave their personal input. Another one of my tasks was to look at other comparable designer’s websites and jot down ideas for what Maiyet may want to include in theirs (things as simple as the “Shipping & Returns”, “Legal”, and “Privacy” tabs).
Also, as social media is becoming larger than ever, I browsed Tumblr for ideas on what types of pictures and postings Maiyet may want to include in their own. Little did I know how much time and effort went into the small things that one does not really think about when working with an already established brand.
Although I was only able to lend my help for a short two days, I believe I was able to leave with an abundant amount of knowledge about how fashion start-ups are born and how showrooms are run. In my last 30 minutes, I was given a tour around their 4th floor loft that was filled with inspiration photos, fabulous textiles, and interesting photographs. With models running in and out for casting, samples being altered right in front of my eyes, and phone calls being made across the globe right next to me, this was definitely an exciting environment to work in. Maiyet seeks to “celebrate the rare, unexpected, and exciting” and soon will be in available for purchase in a store near you.