It Takes a Village
October 13, 2015
Somewhere along the way, “socially conscious fashion” became a synonym for shapeless linen in oatmeal shades. But what a misconception! A new generation of forward thinkers are redefining fashion’s global role-thinkers like Kristy Caylor, who cofounded Maiyet in 2010.
As the brand’s creative director, Caylor is leading the charge to support artisans in developing countries. “We find rare artisanal skills from around the world—Peru, Kenya, Mongolia, Vietnam—and partner with talented artists to create luxurious interpretations of heritage crafts,” she says. A Maiyet collection reads like a trip around the world. Think handcrafted jewelry from Italy, batik prints from Indonesia, and handwoven fabrics from India. The brand’s close connection with artisans not only celebrates these traditional techniques but also elevates and expands upon them. For example, in Peru, where hand knitting has long been a part of the culture, knitters are supplied with premium Italian milled wool and cashmere.
The cause is one close to Caylor’s heart. “Early in my career I studied the people behind the work,” she says. “I became convinced there was a way to do things differently.” To that end, the company partnered with Nest, a nonprofit organization supporting artisan businesses, and donates a percentage of profits for training. But what truly makes Maiyet unique is how the craftsmanship is showcased in a strikingly modern way. The soulful quality of handmade crafts is imbued in every streamlined silhouette. Clothing, accessories, and jewelry collections are designed for the “modern romantic”—a woman whose sense of style is as refined and expansive as her worldview.
5 QUESTIONS WITH Maiyet’s Kristy Caylor:
NM: NEIMAN MARCUS HAS BEEN CELEBRATING WOMEN WHO ARE CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO AND “MAKING SOME NOISE.” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?
KC: Women are the global leaders of tomorrow. They’re doing incredible things as entrepreneurs, community builders, mothers, and activists. And they’re generating amazing results. For example, companies with mostly women managers are 34 percent more profitable. We are innovating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most important issues—and it’s only the beginning.
NM: HOW DO YOU WANT TO MAKE YOUR MARK?
KC: I’m deeply passionate about women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. Whether it’s serving as an example, a mentor, an innovator, or an investor—I’m dedicated to supporting the next generation of female entrepreneurs globally.
NM: ADVICE FOR WOMEN IN YOUR INDUSTRY?
KC: Dare to think differently. Be brave, be bold, and work hard because all great things come from a tremendous amount of work.
NM: IS THERE A WOMAN WHO HAS BEEN YOUR MENTOR?
KC: My 93-year-old grandmother was a tap dancer on Broadway in the ‘4Os. She’s strong, unafraid, and can still do a mean time step. And also my mother, who was one of a handful of women at Price Waterhouse in New York in the early ’7Os—I don’t think they even had ladies’ rooms then. They both pioneered in their own way and give me the confidence and courage to do what I do today.
NM: WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
KC: I get to go from the runway in Paris to our artisans’ villages. Connecting those two worlds in a meaningful way is the most rewarding part.