Friday, May 6, 2011

Beads That Change Lives - Featured Series Day 6 (Fair Trade)

Today is day six of a 14 day series on Fair Trade, leading up to Fair Trade Day on May 14th. For yesterday's post and video: Santiago Tells His Story, click here. 

Welcome back and welcome all who are new!  Okay, I've changed my mind.  I think I'm allowed to do that, right?  Instead of listing the top 10 reasons tonight, I've decided to tell you about some very special beads that are near and dear to my heart.  Why you ask? After 6 days, you mean to tell me you don't know??  Duhh, they are fair trade of course and they are simply beautiful!! 

Beads That Change Lives - Kazuri Beads  

In 1975, way across the ocean in a little place known as Nairobi, Kenya, Lady Susan Wood, daughter of English Missionaries, started a business making beads in a small shed in her garden. She started her business by hiring two disadvantaged women to help make beads, but 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 provided 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, which gives authenticity to their craft. Each bead is hand-shaped, and hand painted, with what some call "the kaleidescope colors of Africa", some also 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.

I love using Kazuri beads in my designs.  Small and beautiful they may be, but they definitely speak bold and fabulous in any finished piece of jewelry.

Kazuri beads are only sold by kazuri distributors world wide. Visit the Kazuri site (here) to learn more about Kazuri, their other products which include pottery, jewelry and leather bags. Also, learn how you can sponsor a non-for-profit fund rasier in your area.  While you're there, look up a distributor near you.   

*All jewerly featured in this post were created by Runako Designs.  To see more of past and present designs, please visit our website. 



Clayworks by Lisa Boucher said...

Such beautiful colorful beads. Nice post ~ :)

Dee said...

Thanks Lisa, I enjoy playing with them all in a pile, they are just that lovely :)

Jean said...

I love Kazuri beads as well and have used them in my designs too. My problem is the colors are so magnificent I cannot choose a palette -- so I buy so many when I buy them it is like I have gone insane!

Dee, I have received your bracelet. I am amazed at how beautiful it is and how well made and perfect. I feel as if I am the luckiest woman in the world to have won this. I will write about it again on my blog snd thank you properly!

all love, jean

Dee said...

lol @ jean I know exactly what you mean!! I had to put myself on a diet from them at one point and they aren't the cheapest beads around either...but just love em!! I'm so glad you received it, I was going to write you today to ask..I'm also happy that you like it!!

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