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The term “Muzungu” means “traveler” in Swahili. And there's perhaps no better word to capture the essence of Dana Alikhani and Tatiana Santo Domingo, longtime friends and partners in the sustainable fashion project Muzungu Sisters since 2011. 


Dana, of Iranian descent, was born and raised in Cyprus. She studied first in London and then Human Rights at New York's Columbia University. Tatiana is of Brazilian-Colombian descent. She was born in New York, has lived in Switzerland and Paris and attended university in London. After working for various international humanitarian organizations (Dana) and fashion companies (Tatiana), they met in Dana's New York apartment in 2009 and came up with the idea of starting a project together. The brand, Muzungu Sisters, pairs their shared passion for fashion with support for local communities. Since 2011 Dana and Tatiana have traveled the world on the lookout for unique, artisanal clothes and accessories, which they select and have produced exclusively, before selling them online around the world and at their pop-up stores. It's a kind of virtual Wunderkammer for travelers 2.0.
In this exclusive interview, they share their travel tips, the most spectacular places they have visited and those yet to be discovered.

How often do you travel every year?
We used to travel on sourcing trips approximately four to six times per year, but we have both recently had babies so our travel plans have had to slow down considerably!

As soon as you arrive in a foreign country, what’s the first thing you do?
Go for a walk and read local restaurant reviews to find out where the best place is to go for dinner! 

What destination/trip is on your bucket list?
Guatemala, Vietnam, South Africa, Kenya, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Australia.

The place that has surprised you the most?
Budapest is one of the most beautiful European cities and Hungarian people are incredibly warm and gracious. We loved spending time there and getting to know the wonderful artisan who makes our Hungarian embroidered blouses for us and meeting her family.

Which place has enchanted you and which have you fallen in love with?
While sourcing for Muzungu Sisters through South America we were blown away by the vast landscapes of northwestern Argentina, especially when contrasted with Buenos Aires which feels very old-world European in parts. As well as having incredible forms of indigenous craftsmanship and amazing artisanal markets, in the northern provinces of Salta and Jujuy we saw the 7 Color Mountains that are purple, orange and green in color, as well as the breathtaking Salinas Grandes salt flats. We were there during the rainy season so the water had gathered on the salt plains, reflecting with the clouds in a surreal way.

Where do you return to often but never get tired of?

A place that inspires you and stimulates your creativity?
Tatiana and I are both mad Indophiles, and being so taken with India, we do try to go back as much as possible. It is such a rich country in so many ways, and each time we go back we find amazing new crafts and tons of inspiration. From the old-worldness of Delhi to the anything-can-happen vibe of Mumbai, we never need an excuse to travel to India!

You split your time between London, NY and Monte-Carlo, where do you feel most at home?
Both Dana and I live full-time in London and we feel at home here.

What type of trip is best for the winter? And for summer?
Dana: I love the beach and swimming so the best winter escape for me would be somewhere like Mexico or the Maldives. The best summers are spent in Greece, but this summer I will be going back to Ibiza after having missed the island for the past two summers. 

What destination would you recommend for Summer 2015?
Both Dana and I spent August in Spetses last year with our families and we loved it. It’s such a charming island with no cars in the old town, only horse and carriages, delicious food, and beautiful bays to swim in. 

What item do you always pack?
"Dana: Comfortable pants, light silk kurta shirts from India, and my favorite fique mochila as it packs flat and weighs nothing but expands to fit my shawl, jacket and shopping from the markets if I need it to. I pack multiple Bali sarongs because they always come in handy, not just for the beach but also to make your hotel room cozy or to cover your pillowcase if the hotel you’re staying in isn’t as clean as you’d like. I always remember to bring a bright jacket like our embroidered Sonia bolero from Peru or my navy velvet Fatima jacket.
Tatiana: My laptop, a Muzungu Sisters Fique mochila and my Muzungu Sisters camouflage shawl, which also works as a perfect blanket on flights. And I never travel without my Muzungu Sisters Dana tassel loafers – they are the most comfortable shoes ever made and they work for both daytime and evening."