Dana Alikhani & Tatiana Casiraghi
Co-Founders Muzungu Sisters
THE MEANING OF MUZUNGU
Muzungu Sisters is Dana Alikhani and Tatiana Casiraghi, friends since 2002 and business partners since 2011. The word Muzungu is originally Swahili, meaning 'wanderer' or 'traveler.' Early European travelers were often referred to in this manner throughout eastern and central Africa. 'Muzungu' is now a term used in everyday African parlance to refer to foreigners, or white people.
Partners Dana Alikhani and Tatiana Casiraghi have traveled across the world to find the most unusual, beautiful, sustainable, fabrics, and the best embroiderers, weavers, and ateliers to produce pieces that are timeless heirlooms and designed to be kept for generations.
Dana and Tatiana believe in a conscious, conservative approach to consumption, so Muzungu Sisters only uses natural, sustainable, biodegradable materials that leave minimal trace on our environment.
Their pieces are ethically handmade, handwoven and hand-embroidered only in small ateliers, fully certified ethical production facilities exceeding ILO (International Labor Organization) standards, or cottage industries of women working from home to sustain their livelihoods while looking after their families. Muzungu Sisters continues to value and champion hand-embroidery, which is sadly a dying art due to the increase in popularity of machine-embroidery.
Muzungu Sisters guarantees responsible sourcing practices and do their utmost to ensure that all our suppliers are treated in accordance with internationally recognized standards of human rights.
Their producers are varied: some are individuals who are taught their craft as a means of empowerment or income; other represent entire families of artisans who have inherited their skills from previous generations. In any case, many of the Muzungu Sisters’ items represent the sole means of revenue for the artisans and others in their communities.
By exposing their products to an international audience and new markets, Dana and Tatiana are able to guarantee that the artisans sustain their personal and communal livelihoods in a manner that respects their own cultural practices. While all their producers may not have fair-trade certification, our close ties with the craftsmen allow them to ensure that fair labor practices are sustained throughout the supply chain. All of the artisans Dana and Tatiana work with are directly paid a living wage for the goods they produce for them.
Dana Alikhani began travelling the world at an early age. Though Iranian, she was born and raised in Cyprus. At the age of 17, she moved to London, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in social anthropology from SOAS, University of London. Dana continued her studies in New York, at Columbia University. There, while studying for a master’s degree in human rights, she focused her attention on ethical labour practices, an interest that eventually led her to the founding of Muzungu Sisters. Before the launch of Muzungu Sisters in 2011, Dana held positions at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), at the Human Rights Watch in New York, and as a Middle East political analyst for a global business risk consultancy in London. She lives in London with her husband and three young children.
Of Brazilian-Colombian origin, Tatiana Casiraghi was born in New York and raised in Switzerland and Paris. Tatiana attended the American University in London, gaining her bachelor of fine arts degree in visual communications, with a concentration in photography, in 2005. Following positions at the fashion house in New York, with creative director Giovanni Biancho, and at Vanity Fair, Tatiana has developed a renowned fashion sensibility, hich she now uses to curate the Muzungu Sisters selections. She lives in London with her husband three young children and two dogs.