In 1975, way across the ocean in a little place known as Nairobi, Kenya, Lady Susan Wood, daughter of English Missionaries, set up a fledging business making beads in a small shed in her back garden. She started her business by hiring two disadvantaged women to help make beads and soon realized that there were many more nearby women who were in need of jobs. This idea was the birth of "Kazuri".
As a help center for needy women, especially single mothers who had no other source of income, Kazuri expanded to over 180 women and men, mostly women by 1988. One job holder often provides for an extended family of 20 or more. Workers were trained to make these beautiful beads and jewelry, using clay from the Mt Kenya area, thus giving them authenticity to their craft. Each bead is hand-shaped, and hand painted, with what some call "the kaleidescope colors of Africa", some to include gold and platinum.
Kazuri, the swahili word for "small and beautiful" produces a wide range of beads and jewelry. Now under new ownership, the factory continues to operate under its original philosophy of helping to provide for the disadvantaged and to provide a safe and enjoyable working environment for their crafts people. Kazuri beads are Fair Trade goods, much different from Free Trade. Fair Trade workers are provided safe work conditions, no child labor, and they are paid "living wage". Kazuri workers are also paid a little more than living wage. Profit from Fair Trade good purchases provide funding for clothing, education, housing, and medical benefits. With few job opportunities in Kenya today, the Kazuri factory is a welcome "gathering spot" for those fortunate crafters who have been lucky enough to obtain jobs.
Small and beautiful they may be, but they definitely speak bold and fabulous in any finished piece of jewelry.
I love using Kazuri beads and will a few more new designs for the holidays coming out soon .
Until next time, "unveil" and don't be shy about it!
Too find out more about Kazuri beads and how you can sponsor a non-for-profit fund raiser in your area, contact Kazuri USA. Turtleneck Jewelry is one of my favorite distributors of Kazuri beads, please visit.