Kazuri Handmade Ceramic Beads from Kenya

Kazuri Handmade Ceramic Beads from Kenya at Golden Shoes

Situated on what was once a part of Karen von Blixen’s coffee plantation there is now a small workshop where Kenyan women make ceramic jewelry and beads. Many of the beads and jewelry components are tiny. Each one has to be shaped carefully, polished, fired, painted, and fired again. The result is Kazuri, the Swahili word for “small and beautiful.”

In the workshops, there is a constant buzz that comes from over 350 or so women chatting away non-stop while they work. The people of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa are facing what often seems to be insurmountable problems as they attempt to improve their respective situations in life. With unemployment running from 65% – 90%, one jobholder often ends up providing for an “extended family” of 20 or more. It is particularly difficult for women to find jobs. Those with little or no education find it virtually impossible. Those lucky ones who do find employment are shown great respect by their families and communities.

Lady Susan Wood started Kazuri in 1975 with the social mission of providing work for a few women. Initially, less than 10 women were employed making beads in her garden shed. As word of the beauty and uniqueness of the Kazuri beads spread, sales increased, as did the facility. As a result, 350 people are now employed. Many more wait in the hope of having an opportunity to join the ranks of those talented people who make small and beautiful beads. Now under new ownership, Kazuri has been able to expand while retaining its philanthropic roots. The workshop is still located on a portion of the farm once owned by Karen Von Blixen, of Out of Africa fame, at the base of the Ngong Hills outside Nairobi.

The Kazuri bracelets we carry at Golden Shoes are created by Michigan artist, Kathy Sanders of Myrtle & Pearl Designs. At $22 each, they are an affordable way for everyone to be a part of the Kazuri story. The Kazuri beads in each bracelet are fair trade certified, which guarantees that fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries.

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