Every now and then, I come across a product that wows me. Sometimes I find that the story behind the product is more important than the actual product. This review features both an amazing product and one the most touching stories.

Kibibi Little Lady from Mirasols. Photo credit: Joyaux Marisols

An umbrella is a necessity for most people. It keeps us out of the heat of the sun in summer and dry during rainy days. The umbrella is so much more than that for a group of women from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These umbrellas are more than great products. They have a story. Joyaux Marisol LLC was founded by Miranda Leigh in order to produce Marisol ™ brand umbrellas. The company’s mission is to “protect women from rain, sun, and violence, as well as from war.”

The Marisol Story

Marisol umbrellas, made in Brooklyn, New York. Each umbrella is handcrafted using limited-edition African fabrics based on the clothing worn by women in the Congo. Twenty percent of net profits are donated to City of Joy, a DRC. City of Joy, an unique healing and training facility operated by V-Day is a worldwide organisation that works to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day is the brainchild of Eve Ensler who created The Vagina Monologues.

City of Joy graduates Spring 2013. Photo credit: Paula Allen, V-Day

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Why the Congo? In the DRC, women are regularly tortured and abused by mutilations and rapes. As a result, many women become pregnant or contract HIV and other diseases. Many survivors are abandoned by their families and communities. In this safe environment, the Congolese women of the City of Joy receive the support and help they need. Leigh, Marisol’s Leigh, explains how she created Marisol to give women everywhere a way to help. “Marisol ™ is my response to women in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are suffering horribly. I want to pass on not only the desire to help but also the actual methods of doing so.

The umbrellas

When I received the sample Joyaux Marisol had loaned me to write this article, I was surprised. This is a beautiful, sturdy piece of workmanship. The wax print on the umbrella is vibrant and bold, as well as being 100% waterproof. I think that any woman who carries a Marisol umbrella will feel confident and strong.

Areta T Mirasol. Photo credit: Joyaux Marisols

Each wax print is limited, so the prints you see today on our website may not be available in a month’s time. Leigh worked with Mr. Gilbert Center to learn how to build umbrellas of superior quality. When you hold an umbrella, you know that it is built to last.

The umbrella has a steel frame with high-carbon steel ribs that are designed to resist wind and heavy rain. It’s easy to open and close. The auto-opening mechanism opens the umbrella with a simple push of a button. Over the years, I’ve pinched my finger trying to close an awning. Mirasol is a solution to this problem. The runner snaps into place when you move it back down the tube. There are no metal springs that can pinch your fingers, or jam.

The handle is made of lucite in bright colors. The first thing you need to do when ordering your Marisol online is choose the handle color. Red, pink, coral orange, yellow green sky blue deep blue purple, and more are available. Marisol offers a limited warranty for its designs. You will receive care instructions with your purchase to keep the handcrafted masterpiece in pristine condition.

[fancy_header3 variation=”purple”]Purchasing an umbrella[/fancy_header3]

Marisol umbrellas may not be cheap, but they are made with great care and a portion of sales is donated to V Day.

Ama P Mirasol. Photo credit: Joyaux Marisols

Three sizes are available:

  • File is a parasol for women or a girl’s umbrella with a diameter of 30″. It costs $395.
  • The Demoiselle is 32” wide, provides good protection from rain and can be easily stored in a tote. It sells for $425
  • The Dame has a diameter of 34” and is ideal for rain showers. It sells for $455

This is one of the rare times that I regret returning a product after reviewing it. Although it doesn’t seem like it rains enough in Arizona for me to justify spending $455 on an umbrella, I am honored to be able to offer it to someone. I can see myself proudly holding this umbrella in Paris, London or Oregon and explaining its history.

City of Joy’s classroom in February 2013. Paula Allen, V-Day.