Michael Nelson graduated from Parsons School of Design and started his eponymous brand after consulting for emerging designers and interning at Oscar de la Renta in 2012. Inspired by a trip to the Maasai Mara, he set up several cooperatives throughout Kenya, which were the start of the Michael Nelson brand.
Each cooperative is comprised of talented artisans specializing in traditional Maasai beadwork, master horn craftsmanship, and woodcarving. Each collection is developed and designed in New York, and then sent to Kenya to be handcrafted. Michael Nelson pays per piece, on the same day of work. This simple exchange allows the artisans to build sustainable incomes and earn four times the national average. As the brand continues to grow, Michael hopes to build a central workshop in Nairobi where the artisans can come and work with full daycare facilities and a lunchroom.
Fashionkind has partnered with Michael Nelson and Selima Optique to create our Exclusive Sunglasses. Each pair of classic aviator frames are handcrafted in Italy and sent to Kenya, where artisan Lucy Kintalel beads each pair by hand.
To further align with Lucy and her local community, 10% of our profits from the sale of the sunglasses go to an education fund to help send 22 Maasai child to school in Kenya to private school - including Lucy's daughter Lydia.