Director of Juzi, Nancy Randall, founded Juzi on a trip to Kenya and was introduced to Lilian from a community in Kisumu who made interesting things literally from junk. Lilian had set up a co-operative to help her community become self-supporting, creating many different products from greetings cards to toys. Nancy was fascinated by the colourful, handmade magazine beads and this is what began a relationship that launched ethical fashion brand Juzi with a vision for the Kenyan co-operatives to develop their communities by helping them to be self-supporting for the longterm.
Juzi is derived from a Swahili word and means `the day before yesterday’ and is crafted by three self-supporting co-operatives in Kenya. Juzi jewellery is created from locally sourced redundant materials such as magazines, posters, calendars and bottle tops making each piece individual and unique beautiful piece of jewellery. These beautiful recycled pieces of jewellery are more than versatile for an every growing fashion world obsessed with fast fashion and mass market consumerism. This provides an opportunity for the consumer to stand out of the crowd. Juzi work closely with co-operatives in Kenya to create now four collections entitled Flava, Aloe, Ozoroa and Molle and is now, impressively, being sold in over 9 countries worldwide.
Companies like Juzi make a huge difference to their communities in African countries as they provide a retail outlet for crafts. They encourage trade and create these links with consumers internationally. What is interesting is the stories from those who make the beads such as that of Margaret Loum, a 51-year-old woman from Uganda: mother and war widow. Her husband was tragically killed by rebel forces in the 1990s, leaving her with three young children to raise. Her pain did not stop here – Margaret’s sister Ellen was brutally raped and murdered, also by the rebels. Despite the emotional devastation Margaret was subjected to, she took on the responsibility of Ellen’s seven children, leaving her with ten young children to provide for. Of which 2 of the young girls were subjected to an unthinkable tirade of physical abuse, culminating in rape.
Unfortunately her story was saddened further through the Kampala bombings that occurred during the 2010 FIFA world cup where she lost eight close relatives in the attacks. But despite all her pain and suffering, Margaret did not give up, ever. Along with some fellow war widows she started a co-operative, creating beautiful hand-made beads and jewellery out of paper. It is these very beads that are used to create the beautiful range of accessories available in the Juzi collection. Margaret hopes that by providing all of the children with a good education, she is providing them with the necessary foundations for a bright future.
We tell these stories not to create guilt but to help consumers make an informed choice when they buy and to know that what they purchase are made by people to whom that purchase makes a big difference to. By buying any of the fairly traded Juzi products you will not only be helping to change the lives of the Loum family, but also those of the other war widows and their children.
Having seen this style of jewellery made by various groups in Africa it was a joy for me to receive samples in the post from our Juzi press contact Sian. With festival season flying down upon us Juzi accessories would be a perfect addition to a festival outfit. Their fair trade and eco-friendly ethos sums up the festival vibe and makes these beautiful jewellery all but necessary fashion pieces for this season.
Pieces such as those from the vibrant, multi-coloured mix of the Flava range, can come in lengths of up to 280cm costing around £24 but don’t get be misguided these are not just for girls, but they supply a great selection of men’s bands and necklaces available too!
We will be introducing you to more cooperatives and project groups in Africa creating fashion projects. To tell the story and most importantly to showcase the great skills and talents that are out there in Africa.
All images copyright and courtesy of http://www.juzionline.com/