31
Mar 17

Seeing Firsthand The Growth of Education in our TLC Community

Hi, I’m Kathy, part of the US-based TLC team that visited our Kenya operations in March.

My Kenyan colleague Anne and I spent a day visiting Oltumusoi Primary School which serves the local Maasai community. In the 10 years since the school began with a handful of students, it has now grown to 200+ students. Through the sales of our Beads for Learning bracelets, The Leakey Collection pays for teacher salaries at the school. This year we are funding 5 of the 15 teachers.

kathy and anne

In Kenya, parents must pay tuition fees for each child to attend school. The students standing in this class all have parents who work for The Leakey Collection. Earning money so their children can attend school is the top financial motivation for most of our women artisans.

TLC parents

Almost all of the children are the first generation in their families to learn to read or attend school. In this 8th grade class, I asked if any of their parents had attended school and only this single boy stood up. The children are taught in English and Swahili and are trilingual (including their mother language of Maa) by primary graduation.

young man whose parent went to school

The challenge of balancing traditional gender roles with preparing for a changing future makes it especially difficult to keep girls in school as they become teenagers. Our Beads for Girls Graduation bracelets fund mentorship programs to support girls in pursuing their educational goals.

young girl

In the upper grades I said a few words to the girls, reinforcing that they are just as capable as the boys to continue on to secondary school (equivalent to our high school) and even a university. They were surprised to hear that more women than men attend universities in the US.

addressing class

Children as young as 4 can begin attending the pre-school class where they become familiar with the learning environment. Here they sing Heads-Shoulders-Knees-and-Toes, a song that unites children across the globe.

preschool

We walked home with the lower primary students who are dismissed after the school-provided lunch. These young children walk 8-10 miles each day to attend school. Truly inspirational!

walking home


09
Nov 16

2016 Holiday Gift Guide

2016-Holiday-Gift-GuideNeed help with your gift list?  Check out some of our suggestions for the personalities in your life. Also to help you, we will include special TLC gift packaging for each jewelry item you purchase during this busy holiday season.

sbz02For the Romantics, we suggest our new Stocking Stuffer on unique Gift Rounds packaging. We also have them in colors for the Wine LoversNature GirlsBeachcombers, and Free Spirits.  

 

bfcwFor the Socially Conscious, give one of our Do Good Cause Bracelets which help support special projects – Beads for Learning, Beads for Clean Water, Beads for Healthy Gardens, or Beads for Girls Graduation.

 

MarulaThe natural Beauties in your life will love our wild-harvested, cold-pressed Marula Facial Oil with high concentration of antioxidants and fatty acids, Omega 6 and 9.

 

zgcefallEven Super Heroes sometimes need positive encouragement and inspiration to Dream Big,  Live Free, Create Harmony, Go With the Flow, or Follow Your Heart.  Limited Edition Super Power Bracelets are a fun reminder.

 

bread-board

What do you give those gracious Hosts who love to entertain? Any of our gorgeous, handcrafted Tableware items, such as the Bread & Cheese platters or Salad Tongs, would be a treasured gift.

 

This holiday season, think Fair Trade 1st for your gift list. Buying Fair Trade provides work, allowing individuals to provide the rest for themselves! You can LIKE Fair Trade but nothing happens for thousands of people around the world if you don’t BUY Fair Trade!


11
Oct 16

Fair Trade Myths and Realities

Your Purchase_creates work_builds communitiesOctober is Fair Trade Month! As members of the Fair Trade Federation, we are dedicated to 360° fair trade.  360° means we work with artisans in partnerships built on trust.  It means good wages, safe working conditions, environmental responsibility, and more.  It means our partners are empowered to build strong businesses for their families today – and for generations to come. Do you have any misconceptions about Fair Trade?

Myth: Fair trade is about paying developed world wages in the developing world.

Reality: Wages are designed to provide fair compensation based on the true cost of production, and are not based on North American wage standards. Fair wages are determined by a number of factors, including:

  • The amount of time, skill, and effort involved in production
  • Minimum and living wages where products are made
  • The purchasing power in a community or area
  • Other costs of living in the local context

Myth: Fair trade siphons off American jobs to other countries.

Reality: Fair trade seeks to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor who frequently lack alternative sources of income. Most fair trade craft products stem from cultures and traditions which are not represented in North American production.

Myth: Fair trade is anti-globalization.

Reality: International exchange lies at the heart of fair trade.  360° Fair Trade Organizations seek to maximize the positive elements of globalization that connect people, communities, and cultures through products and ideas. At the same time, they seek to minimize the negative elements that result in lower labor, social, and environmental standards which hide the true costs of production.

Myth: Fair trade is a form of charity.

Reality:  360° fair trade promotes positive and long-term change through trade-based relationships which build self-sufficiency. Its success depends on independent, successfully-run organizations and businesses–not on handouts. While many fair trade organizations support charitable projects in addition to their work in trade, the exchange of goods remains the key element of their work.

Credit: Fair Trade Federation


06
Sep 16

Fair Trade Fairy (Purchasing Activism)

Everyday when I wake up and meet with my Maasai sisters, they all have the same one question – “have you told the people back home about the bracelets so we can get more orders?”28796496822_6114bcf906_k Beadwork here is like hitting the gold mine, but it isn’t possible without orders coming in.  The women, if not beading, usually work extracting the centers of the Marula seeds for oil or work in the shamba (garden/farm), but I haven’t seen the same sense of community and joy than when these women are beading together. The Maasai are known for wearing beautifully ornate beads all over their bodies, and they grew up beading, so for them it’s just second nature.  Like when you and your friends get together and make friendship bracelets or go to camp and make lanyards.  Sitting amongst them when they get an order is wonderful.  On the haziest of days, they can lighten the sky by singing and gossiping and being together, doing what they love.  Many women have told me that they didn’t really have much of a social life before work because they would stay home all day sitting around waiting to milk their cows.  These women so enjoy being able to come together and work with their friends while making money to sustain their new and improved lifestyles. Women are women all over the world, and we need to help our sisters out.  What better way than to do a little shopping?  I order my beads to give as gifts, to flaunt on my wrists, ankles and neck, and even to decorate my room.

So many people want to change the world, and this is one way we can start a ripple effect of change.  Fair Trade has saved these women, and with a simple order, you can be a part of all this amazingness!

**Fair Trade Fairy

We thank you for following along with us on Piper’s (aka Fair Trade Fairy) experience in East Africa. It’s been so enjoyable reading her fresh perspective as she learned more about the reality of Fair Trade and got to personally know some of the women whose lives have improved well beyond what most of us can even imagine! Although you may not be able to meet these women and their families in person, you have the chance to get to know them a little as we continue with our ongoing updates on our Your Purchase Power page! If you haven’t met Naesupat yet, make sure you click here. Stop by often as we will be changing information frequently! 

 

 


15
Aug 16

Fair Trade Fairy (What it is/ how it works)

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I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped into the little airplane that would took me to where Katy and Philip Leakey live and work. I was actually advised not to have expectations, which helped me a lot once I arrived. It allowed my brain to be a sponge and soak up everything around me. Coming from Malibu California, a hub of capitalism, and venturing out to the bush of Africa to study Fair Trade, the only thing I did know was that it would be an adventure. 

I spent my first few days just observing and meeting the people, getting a feel for the community. AnneAnne (a brilliant woman who is my bridge into the community) and  Katy (my guide for basically everything else who has taught me many amazing things last week, yesterday, today, and probably everyday following) have both described Fair Trade in their own words and how it has changed the community here. What I have gathered, so far, is that it is a system where people (both the business and the entrepreneurs) work together to figure out a just or *fair* system in which to work and earn money, basically to “create their own realities.” The work they put in is reciprocated through what they gain, and it’s not just money – it’s much more than that.  The people working are able to have healthcare, educate their kids and provide for their families. I’m excited to interview people and see what they have to say so I can better understand this *magical* system!

**Fair Trade Fairy**

Check out the Pied Piper Collection here!


10
Aug 16

Through the Eyes of a Self-Proclaimed Fair Trade Fairy

Piper DesigningWe’re excited to introduce Piper Hays!  Everyone on The Leakey Collection Team who has met Piper, both in East Africa and Southern California, has been delighted by her passion and enthusiasm!  A deep mutual respect and friendship with the Maasai artisans developed during her 5 week visit with the Leakeys in the Rift Valley to learn about Fair Trade. Over the next month or so, we will be sharing Piper’s insights through her guest blog, as well as her perspective through photos and interview videos with the people whose lives are positively impacted by our Fair Trade partnership with them.  Piper even designed a special Zulugrass collection that we are featuring on our website! Check out the Pied Piper Collection here!  Prepare to be just as delighted as we are!

In her second year at the University of San Francisco, Piper is studying communications, anthropology, and German.  Along with her interest in travel and learning about different cultures, Piper is an accomplished musician! She sings and plays 4 instruments: guitar, mandolin, piano, and even the ukulele which she took to Kenya and used to bond musically with her new friends. She has a love for all-things-glitter and is never without her Fairy Glitter bottle, blessing those she meets with a little application because “everybody needs to shine.” She now proclaims herself the Fair Trade Fairy!  Make sure you check back each week to read her blogs and for a surprise contest!


23
Nov 15

Full of Thanks and Wishes for You and Yours

may the love of family

The pastoral Maasai are some of the happiest people on earth, joyously celebrating life’s special occasions. They have very close community and family ties so our wish for you this holiday season is the same – that you would have the opportunity to make your celebrations full of that joy and peace with plenty of time to spend with the people you love.

We here at The Leakey Collection are so thankful for all of you who partner with us to Make a Better World.

 


28
Oct 15

October Is National Domestic Violence Month

Domestic-Violence-monthDesigned to raise global awareness and fundraising support, cause-awareness days and months mark time periods on the calendar when a particular social issue is highlighted for special attention.  Each person and organization has a heart for different causes that are important to them. Obviously, The Leakey Collection is passionate about women and empowerment issues across the globe.  Over the past fifteen years of running our fair-trade business in rural Africa, we have witnessed some wonderful changes in areas that we never expected.  One such area is a dramatic decrease in domestic violence.  Although that wasn’t one of our initial goals, it was a direct result of our efforts.

“Fair Trade companies around the world concur that domestic violence abates in households when women can become financially independent contributors.” Katy Leakey

Last month, we were honored to have played a small part in the Accelerate 4 Change event, benefiting the National Coalition for Domestic Violence that we wrote about here.  

Most definitions of domestic abuse include “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.”  Of course, the issue of domestic violence is NOT ever simple nor do we want to suggest that. But we do want you to know that providing work opportunity for the Maasai women in Kenya and other communities around the world can help.  And we thank you.



22
Oct 15

Empowering Women & Girls Makes Economic Sense

The recent International Day of the Girl really made us think about how empowering & educating women & girls can change the world! This year’s theme of “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030″ addresses the fact that adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, but also that “If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to CHANGE THE WORLD – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders.”  Powerful words!

young girls

Studies show that when an educated girl or woman earns income, she reinvests 90% of it into her family. She prioritizes food, medicine, and education for her children. In one of our recent videos about The Leakey Collection’s early days, our founder Katy Leakey shared that even the Maasai men eventually acknowledged: “The women spend the money on the RIGHT THINGS. They put the kids in school. They buy the food.”

Mandy Moore wrote in ONE.org: “Each additional year of secondary school can increase a woman’s earnings by 10 to 20 percent, and that increase yields real profits for the countries they live in. When 10 percent more women in a country complete secondary education, the country’s annual per capita income grows by 3 percent. Investing in women and girls makes economic sense.”

We believe in this so firmly that not only is our mission to empower our female Maasai artisans through entrepreneurial ventures, but we are working to keep young adolescent rural girls, who tend to drop out of school before completing their primary education, on track toward graduation. A portion of the proceeds from each Beads for Girls Graduation bracelet is donated by The Leakey Collection to our Girls Graduation counseling program, as well as toward a girls’ scholarship fund.

Beads for Girls' Graduation

 


06
Oct 15

We Practice 360° Fair Trade

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The words “Fair Trade” mean so much more than just “feel-good words.”

As a member of the Fair Trade Federation, The Leakey Collection is fully committed to the principles listed above in all of our transactions.  These principles were created by using the global principles of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) as their foundation.

360 logo

Our Fair Trade Federation membership means we go beyond the fair trade basics. It’s a 360° approach that’s about building true partnerships with artisans and working to create positive change through all of our work. 360° fair trade means not only fair wages, but also long-term, holistic partnerships that empower artisans to grow their businesses. As an FTF member, we go through a rigorous screening that looks at our whole business. We call it 360° fair trade, meaning that we’re committed to being fair and responsible in everything we do — socially, economically, and environmentally. We practice 360° fair trade, which means we take a more holistic approach than only looking at wages and work conditions. We partner with artisans and make a long-term commitment to helping grow businesses and strengthen communities. We’re proud to practice 360° fair trade. We build true partnerships with producers and act responsibly in all of our work: socially, economically, and environmentally.

The month of October is Fair Trade Month. There are many options to buy fair trade products wherever you shop so make your purchases mindfully. “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want to live in.” Anna Lappe

Every purchase matters.