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Kazuri

‘Small Beautiful’

In the heart of Kenya lies a small factory with over 400 workers designing and hand making small and beautiful jewellery. Kazuri beads.

Tucked away in the outskirts of Nairobi, on the Karen Blixen Estate, the same estate that was made famous by the award winning film ‘Out of Africa’, is home to small wooden factory specializing in handmade clay jewellery and pottery has made quite a name for itself. Kazuri meaning ‘Small and beautiful’ in Swahili. I was fortunate enough to visit the Kazuri Factory in Kenya, and if first impressions were anything to go by, I was soon proved very mistaken. As the group and I walked along a dusty dirt track, heading towards the small wooden factory tucked away among a cluster of trees, a feeling of apprehension swarmed the group. On arrival, we were ushered through a door and into the main part of the factory. Inside, row upon row of brightly coloured beads hung from wooden poles colouring the entire building. All the employers (mainly

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women) attended to their work so precisely and did not let our presence interrupt. All the women were sat on plastic garden chairs at the different stations through out the room. Each part of the work was completed by hand, and so much passion went into producing the beautiful pieces of jewellery. Many of the women were rolling the clay into different shapes of beads, some were painting the dried clay beads with vivid african prints and colours, other stations were in charge of glazing and operating the kiln whilst others were threading the individual beads onto wires. Kazuri began 20 years ago as a small ceramic workshop with only two employers. Now this enterprise has flourished, and employs over 400 people with 340 being women. The many women who form part of the Kazuri family are single mothers, widows of

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PICTURE SOURCE: www.kazuri.com

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Written by Katy Little


CULTURE from kenya tribes and landscapes. My first impression of this shack like building hidden in the trees was shortly abolished when I stepped onto the clay step that spelt ‘Kazuri Beads’ in brightly coloured beads that are used to make the jewellery. When I walked through the door and saw all the women working they looked so proud and I knew they felt so fortunate to be there. After we had finished the tore of the factory, I ventured into the shop next door that stocked all the finished jewellery and pottery, and I just had to buy something. Im not sure if I brought something because I felt obliged to or whether the products were so unique I just had to have something, and at the time I never expected them on sale in shops in Britain. Soon after returning home I noticed a large chain store stocking Kazuri Beads. It was so amazing to see the jewellery on sale that I had seen made from scratch, knowing the journey it had been on and the women had produced it. Every time I wear my necklace I am reminded of the women who sit at the plastic chairs every day producing the Kazuri jewellery. ‘Small and Beautiful’. H

‘Kazuri Jewellery stands out, and every piece is unique.’

the aids epidemic, or abandoned by their Men. Kazuri gave these women the opportunity and chance they desperately needed in order to provide for their families and get their lives back on track. In order to help these women, the factory is also equip with a medical clinic providing free medical care for the employers and their families. Twenty years on and Kazuri jewellery and pottery has grown ever popular. This tiny factory in Kenya now exports to over 30 countries worldwide, and can be ordered online from many of the distributors. With every piece of jewellery

being hand made, Kazuri jewellery stands out, and every one is unique. The names of particular Kazuri styles are taken

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Kazui Beads  

African Kazuri beads.

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