4.19.2011

Sustainable Style: The Leakey Collection

It's been a while since I've been drawn to jewelry. When I go thrifting and estate saling these days, the rows of necklaces, earrings and bracelets don't really seem worth the effort it takes to rummage through them. If you know me personally, you know that this is a very strange thing. Former roommates and current friends can attest to my love of accessories, and have often considered my collection a magical land where they can browse and borrow at their leisure.

If I'm honest, I can tell you why this is: I feel like I keep seeing the same ideas over and over from people who are making jewelry. And this leaves me feeling quite uninspired to wear it. Or, if I do come across something that speeds up my heart rate, it's usually way too expensive.

So what's a girl to do? For me, the solution has been simple: shop fair trade. Because even if it's something you've seen before, at least the money you spend is making a positive impact on someone else. Like today's featured designer, The Leakey Collection. Is their stuff similar to other jewelry I've seen? Sure. But it's still beautiful, and even more so because you know the story behind it. You know the people your money is going to help, and the love behind the design.


The founders, Philip and Katy Leakey, are a husband and wife who live in the Kenyan bush among the Maasai people. Seeing the economic troubles and lack of work inherent in such a dry land, the Leakeys began to think of a way to help those in their adopted community. The answer was already there, as the Maasai women are extremely gifted at beading. They harvest blades of grass, dry them, dye them, and string together beautiful pieces. The Leakeys made the addition of some Czech glass beads, and Zulugrass was born.



Now more than 1,400 Maasai women participate in making these necklaces (some walk more than two hours to do so), and as a result they are able to earn an income for themselves and their family, while staying true to their roots Wouldn't that be an amazing story to tell when someone says, "Hey, I like your necklace. Where is it from?"



To learn more about the Leakeys and their initiative in Kenya, be sure and check out their website!

{Images via The Leakey Collection}

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