In ancient Egyptian mythology, Ra was the sun-god, the creator of life, and Maat was his beloved daughter. She was one of the original goddesses, and when the boat of Ra rose above the primeval waters of Nu for the first time, she stood regally at its bow.
She sailed with Ra in his celestial barque, the ship that daily carried the sun across the skies, for it was she who had plotted its eternal path at the time of creation. She brought great joy to Ra, and thus to the world, and her presence was thought to be vital to the daily regeneration of the sun-god. The tides waxed and waned according to her measured axis, and there could be no tomorrow if one did not ‘live in maat‘ today.
The tides of our present-day tale began with three women, three real-life goddesses, three beautiful beings whose lives are lived in a very genuine pursuit of beauty and truth. Our central figure is embodied by the nurturing aura of Kumi Sawyers, our own modern Maat. I first met Kumi on the beach in Montauk, and was immediately transfixed by her staggering but unassuming beauty. As the summer wore on, I kept running into her, almost always with one or both of her friends Sian and Heather. The three were this bewitching little tribe of enchantresses, and like all really cool people they terrified me at first. All yoga teachers with gloriously siren-like hair and serious surfing skills, they’re those too-groovy-to-be-true kind of dream babes you usually only see in movies.
Fortunately, Kumi and her consorts harness their powers only for good. Her professional practice is focused on creating equilibrium and unity inside the body ~ a powerful, modern manifestation of the principles of maat. Exuding a confident grace and an insightful sensitivity, hers is an energy that quickly encourages trust. She is a skilled and sensitive healer specializing in massage therapy, yoga instruction and nutritional counseling. Deeply intuitive, she possesses an innate but fine-tuned ability to contact the deep muscles of the body, to create space and allow for freedom of movement.
It’s that spirit of goodness that inspired me to cast Kumi and her friends in this story, to dress them in Maiyet’s clothes. I’d been interested in featuring the brand for some time and Jamie and I had been searching for the right way to do so. Once I learned about the genesis of their name, an idea started taking shape. I threw myself into research on ancient Egyptian mythology, and started dreaming intensely about how to translate that to our modern moment. I was transfixed by the concept of maat, the story of the goddess who personified it, the design behind the clothes and the earnestness and honesty with which Maiyet produces them, plus the magical alchemy of these three beauties gliding into my life at just the right time. I am always inspired by the wonders of friendship and creative partnership, and as Maat guided Ra, so too have these women bolstered each other personally and professionally, so too has Maiyet found refreshing ways to invest meaningfully in their own collaborative relationships.
They’ve partnered with Nest, an international nonprofit dedicated to identifying and collaborating with responsible craftsman businesses across the globe. Nest specializes in finding existing artisanal workshops with the potential ~ with the right help ~ to transform their communities in one of three ways: by alleviating poverty, empowering women, and promoting peace. Maiyet then invests in these artisans, paying fair wages and advance deposits, and donating a percentage of profits back toward further training and development.
Both Maiyet and Nest celebrate artisanship as a powerful way to promote prosperity and stability around the world, and it’s a lesson we can all learn from. Change has never happened overnight, and no companies or people are perfect ~ but we can all aspire to do better and be better, for our immediate communities and for the world at large, in big or small ways every day.
Truth + Beauty starring Kumi Sawyers, Sian Gordon and Heather Lilleston / Photography by Jamie Beck for Ann Street Studio / Written and styled by Kelly Framel / Hair and makeup by Ana Sicat / All clothes and accessories by Maiyet