Discover Benelux, Issue 29, May 2016

Page 12

Discover Benelux | Dutch Design

Kazuri - the Fair Trade sparkle TEXT: TOYAH MARONDEL | PHOTOS: KAZURI

Kazuri, meaning ‘small and beautiful’ in Swahili, was born in Kenya in 1975. It is the brainchild of Lady Susan Wood, who established jewellery production with two local women at a small pottery in her backyard. She taught them how to create jewellery from clay, how to shape and glaze every bead and develop them into unique pieces of jewellery so they can sell them and earn their own income. In 2000, Mark and Regina Newman assumed the business that today has 350 employees. Many more women are waiting in the hope of getting the opportunity to join the ranks of those talented people who create these small, beautiful objects. The couple’s mission was to provide and sustain employment opportunities for disadvantaged members of the Kenyan society. Kazuri believes in the importance of producing locally as a means of empowering people. The women who work at Kazuri receive a good average wage for this sector in Kenya. All women at 12 | Issue 29 | May 2016

Kazuri, mostly single mothers, are entitled to go to a medical clinic twice a week for free medical advice for them and their families. If a long-term stay at a hospital is needed, Kazuri absorbs 80 per cent of the medical costs from the hospitalisation. The free on-site clinic is staffed by a professional nurse. “Wearing ethical jewellery and ecofriendly accessories is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment – and look fantastic at the same time,” says distributor Sietske Wijnja. Sietske and Julia Wijnja distribute Kazuri jewellery, certified by the WFTO as Fair Trade, in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. “My sister and I had completely different careers before we started to distribute Kazuri jewellery. The business idea came from my sister Julia, who lived in Kenya for seven years,” Sietske explains. The successful businesswomen collaborate with distribution agents in Belgium and Switzerland, who made it their mission to make the Fair Trade products available in their countries.

“Once a year, we travel to Kenya to visit the factory, but we are in close contact with the women throughout the year,” says the Wijnja sisters. They own a showroom at the ‘Trademart’ in Utrecht and will be launching a new collection in August this year. The Kazuri workshop in Kenya is located on the grounds of the estate of the late Karen von Blixen, named after Karen Blixen of Out of Africa fame. The beautiful area of Karen is just outside Nairobi and lies under the Ngong Hills between Kenya’s bustling capital and the spectacular Rift Valley. The workshop is a place where the women work, socialise and sing together. The handmade pieces are made of beads, originating from the area near Mount Kenya. Fashion-led craftsmanship “Traditional craftsmanship is infused into all Kazuri products and every item in our collection echoes the love and skill of the hands that made it. Made with techniques handed down through generations, Kazuri jewellery not only looks great but also tells a story of lives