I fell in love with Africa. An unusual path took me there. I had a long and successful career in the world of finance, having worked for years at major financial service firms. I also had a comfortable life. But I knew life was, and is, different for so many people. I felt that with everything I had learned about money and business I could be useful to others. So I left my comfortable life and became a volunteer, working in Kenya to help those in need improve their livelihoods and to have hope. 

Nothing had prepared me for the beauty of the continent, the warmth of the people, the talent of the artisans. Africa gave me generously in return. It impressed and inspired me, and led me to wanting to bring back to America some of this inspiration. This is how the idea of sharing the beauty of contemporary hand-crafted African jewelry to contemporary American women was born. I am delighted to have found these amazing designers who are committed to using only sustainable materials. And more importantly, they are committed to improving the lives of single African women whose hands made all these glorious pieces. I am so pleased to be able to present these beautiful, unusual, high-quality collections to you.

About the Collections

The Thamani Collection, by Afrodutch Collections, made in Kenya, uses an innovative yet labor-intensive technique, adapted from a traditional method once common in Europe, of using sheep’s wool, water, and soap to make the textile called felt. But, this adaptation exchanges wool for shredded newspapers and is mixed with water and either sand or coffee grounds. After a long process of pounding, kneading, and, ultimately, blending the materials, the mixture is molded into the desired form and set out to dry in the open air. After the water evaporates, the material that remains is called Paperstone. Every piece is unique, handmade, and eco-friendly. Some of the pieces incorporate beads from Ethiopia and Ghana, as well as other parts of Africa. 

Also known for its eco-friendly approach, the Nahla Collection, by MARO designs, uses natural materials such as repurposed horn, bone, and metal, as well as silver. Each piece is entirely hand-crafted in Kenya to produce these beautiful contemporary pieces. Each bead is handworked and chosen for each unique necklace and earring. With a clean graphic look, dramatically off-centre—this is contemporary African jewelry. 

Ingrid van Weenen