At a local bead show, I stumbled upon a story that interested me as well as some beautiful beads! The beads were so smooth and colorful, but the story of how they came to be is even more compelling. The beads are called Kazuri beads and here is what I learned:
"Kazuri Founder Lady Susan Wood was born (1918) in a mud hut in an African village. Her parents were missionaries from England in the Ituri Forest. Lady Wood was sent back to England to be educated and married Michael Wood, a surgeon. They came to Kenya in 1947. They were dedicated to making a difference and Lady Wood started a coffee plantation on the Karen Blixen estate, famous from the award winning movie "Out of Africa" , at the foot of the Ngon'g Hills, about 30 minutes from the bustling Nairobi city center in Kenya.In 1975, Lady Susan Wood set up a fledgling business making beads in a small shed in her back garden. She started by hiring two disadvantaged women, and quickly realized that there were many more women who were in need of jobs and so Kazuri Beads was created and began its long and successful journey as a help center for the needy women especially single mothers who had no other source of income. In 1988 Kazuri became a factory and expanded hugely with over 120 women and men.
Today Kazuri, the Swahili word for 'small and beautiful' produces a wide range of hand made, hand painted ceramic jewelry that shines with a kaleidoscope of African colors and Kenyan art that reflects a culture and appeal to a worldwide fashion market. Kazuri's beautifully finished products are made to an international standard and are sold worldwide. These standards are maintained through high training standards and a highly motivated management team. Kazuri is a member of the Fair Trade Act."
I have enjoyed creating many 'small and beautiful' pieces from these Kazuri beads and have gone back to the dealer for more and more. These are frequently requested bracelets, and I always enclose a little story of how the beads came to be! It feels great to wear something nice that actually helps women halfway around the world take care of their families. I will have some bracelets to look at on my website and hopefully for sale soon on my Etsy site if you would like one for yourself! The matching earrings are great, too!