Meet Leo, our dog-cat as we call him. He follows us around camp just like a dachshund, and when we hold our hand in the universal language of “Stop, sit,” he does. He is also easy to retrain. Leo was banned from the kitchen tent while the kingfisher was raising its kookaburras in the earth wall behind the tent. Then a month later he was allowed back, all with no fuss.
Leo had a tough urban upbringing; abandoned and left to the streets by an American expatriate family when they returned to the states. He was then left with deep scars and a cauliflower ear from a terrible fight while looking for a new home and incarcerated in the KSPCA as incompatible with other cats with no hope of a family to adopt him. He endeared himself to us as one of the most loving cats we had ever met. Leo hugs like a joyful 4 year old, with paws around your neck and pressing his face into your cheek. He nuzzles and purrs with great enthusiasm. After a month long slow introduction to life in the wild and our beautiful, albeit a bit prissy, Mara, he has really taken to both. Beauty and the Beast; at last Mara has a friend and Leo a home. If they can just make it past the newest resident … more to come.
This month, our featured Zulugirl is author Kimberly Foster. A resident of Bellevue, Washington, Kimberly was a sales rep for The Leakey Collection from 2005-2008. In addition to handling sales in the Pacific Northwest, she also was our “go to gal” for anything related to writing. Press releases, blog posts, and marketing materials were all shown to Kim before publishing, and she could make anything sound poetic. It was this gift and her love for writing that eventually prompted her to trade in her sales hat for a computer and a manuscript. And we are certainly glad she did! Just last year, she published her first novel, The Clover Tree. It is a captivating story that delivers a powerful message about manifesting dreams. Although it is classified as a young adult’s book, it is a wonderful narrative that appeals to readers of all ages.
Although Kimberly is no longer officially a member of The Leakey Collection, she will always be a part of our family. We recently had the chance to catch up with her.
TLC: Have you always known that you wanted to be a writer?
Kimberly: Yes. When I was a young girl, I published a “newspaper” for our street! Then, I really wanted to be an advertising copywriter. Instead, I ended up teaching high school English and enjoyed some sales positions. All the while, I felt like a book was in my future.
TLC: Bringing a book to life is quite an accomplishment. What kept you going?
Kimberly: The storyline really “found” me, and it was a labor of love to write it. I learned a lot about the process. My first draft had barely any dialogue! What’s funny is that the final product is mostly dialogue, and I pride myself that the dialogue is really authentic. I loved the characters so much that they were the ones to keep me going. And, finally, my daughters. I wanted them to see me finish the book and bring it to fruition.
TLC: Team sports are a big part of The Clover Tree. How have they impacted you as an individual?
Kimberly: Some of my happiest times and best friends have emerged from team sports. Teams provide a place where success depends on working with others and loyalty – two skills that have very much defined my personality. That’s probably why my main character, Kate is a soccer player. Not only am I intimate with the sport because of my own experience, but I recognize how teammates can buoy you on and off the field.
TLC: How has your life changed since The Clover Tree was published?
Kimberly: Thus far, my life hasn’t changed too much. There’s a lot of humility in promoting your own work, but I do feel a strong sense of accomplishment and pride in the product. I love to flip through it and read sections to stay connected to Kate and her journey.
TLC: You have always been a compassionate person. From your novel to your involvement at The Leakey Collection, it is apparent that you really connect to people. Tell us more about your My Hero Bear project.
Kimberly: My Hero Bear is such an important project to me as it provides comfort bears to families that have lost a loved one. My mom had similar bears made for my sister and me after my dad died, and mine is still enormously comforting to me. It’s made with the fabric from one of his favorite shirts. So, when a neighbor lost her son in Afghanistan, I made the family one out of a military fatigue and it was so well received, I explored branding the idea. So our signature elements are using fabric and collar from a favorite shirt and a tag that reads, “I was once worn by someone dear, through loving memories will always be here.” So far, I’ve produced several for young families that lost their father. It is humbling every time I present them with their bears.
TLC: What did you like best about working at The Leakey Collection?
Kimberly: It’s hard to decide! It was always so fun to hear stories of Kenya and the Maasai from Katy and Philip. They brought the jewelry and people to life and helped me enter a culture I was not familiar with at all! However, despite their brilliant storytelling my favorite experience was…. Drum roll… and you are probably going to faint when I say this, but it has to be the trade shows! They were grueling physically, but it was the one place we were together as reps and sharing the story of zulugrass and The Leakey Collection. I loved my co-workers, and I loved talking about the jewelry.
Everyone at TLC is so proud of Kimberly for following her dreams!
From the early 1900′s, March 8th has been a day when the world celebrates the achievements and strength of women across the globe. Fortunately, International Women’s Day has been gaining momentum each year, as individuals realize the power of women. This day is especially important to our company. The Leakey Collection is built on the concept of empowering women to make real change. Our founder, Katy Leakey, had the vision 10 years ago to create a sustainable business model that would give women in rural Africa a means to earn an income, where before there was none. Katy is an inspiration to all that meet her. On this special day, not only do we celebrate Katy and the positive change she has provided to women across the globe, but today, and every day, we celebrate you – mom, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, grandmother, friend, female!
Today is the election in Kenya and citizens are showing their voting power by coming out in droves. The mood of the country is jubilant; all are excited to put the new constitution into effect, and we are all hoping for a peaceful election day.
It is relatively evenly split between 2 candidates, Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. This is the first time that bio-metric voting will take place in the country. This is where people identify themselves by putting their hand on a device like the immigration departments use for travellers, and vote electronically. There is a slight possibility that voting may extend into Tuesday if the timing of such advanced technology takes longer than anticipated in order to give more people the opportunity to vote. No news yet whether the second day will be necessary.
To win the election for president, one person must get 50% + 1 of the votes. If no one accomplishes this, then there will be a run off in one month’s time between the 2 candidates who received the highest number of votes in this first election on Monday.
You may keep abreast of the election by reading the Kenyan newspaper sites on line – http://www.nation.co.ke/
Photo Credit: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
Our beloved Gizzy died December 9th. At 22 years old, she had been with Philip a third of his life.
Giz survived in the wild the last 12 years of her life, defending us and her terrain against spitting cobras, puff adders, banded mongooses, feral cats, and up until she lost her teeth, every mouse in her sights. She was our greatest champion, a stalwart friend who never complained, and she inspired us to be strong as she battled with kidney failure, never accepting anything but the most optimistic view.
We still feel her presence on the hill – this tent will always be “Gizzy’s tent.”
A fun anecdote about Google’s doodle of Mary and the Laetoli Footprints from her son, Philip.
There was a group of us out looking at an array of many different footprints early one Sunday morning. In the process we began fooling around, throwing elephant dung at each other with the Dalmatians in tow. Stooping to collect another clump of elephant dung, an unusual footprint was discovered. It turned out to be a hominid 3.5 million years old and upon further investigation, it turned out to be two, one walking behind the other. Those of us there that morning still laugh at the memory and the excitement.
Philip Leakey – Co-Founder of The Leakey Collection
Philip stomped on the brakes after I shouted “Python!” then slammed the truck into reverse. The snake was already slipping away in the brush on a nighttime hunt when Philip yanked him back onto the road. The Maasai in our truck were shouting to stay back with as much vigor as the snake was lunging toward his aggressor. Philip used the snake’s long body against him by flipping the middle bit of the snake over his own head, so that its weight kept the head still just long enough for a quick choke hold.
We stuffed him into an empty feed sack, lashed him on the back of the truck and took him to camp so we could release him in the morning in less populated and safer hunting grounds. About 20 minutes after we unloaded the truck, he escaped smack in the middle of camp. Given the duck house, chicken house, two cats, and grain shed filled with mice, I don’t think he’ll be going far so I’ve given him a name: Thump after the sound we would have heard if we hadn’t seen him. Philip can’t stand the name. Any other ideas?
I hope Thump has pushed off to the river, but I sincerely doubt it – I worry every day now about my Leo and Mara.
Today we would like to introduce one of our newest colors for spring.
“Mac’s Maua” features bright pink grass interspersed with small white, silver, and clear glass beads. Not only are we offering this newest colorway to our wholesale customers, but also as an Eco-Chic 2-strand set on our retail site. Maua means “flower” in Swahili, and this strand was named after an outstanding young lady who is nicknamed “Mac.”
Mackenzie is the daughter of Bruce and Phyllis, owners of Finer Lines, our rep group based out of Portland, Oregon. Here is a little more about the namesake: Mackenzie is a freshman at the University of Minnesota studying Political Science and Psychology. Her interest in all things global started years ago when she became aware of the importance to recycle locally and grew in her awareness of the needs of underdeveloped nations and her willingness to pitch in to those causes. She was an officer in the Global Awareness to Action (GATA) for 3 years in high school, helping organize and run fund raising events such as “Work for Water.” This raised funds for Charity Water which focuses on building wells in impoverished communities. She also worked on “Pachanga,” a fundraiser for Seeds for Hope, dedicated to education in Peru. Her other passion for the past 10 years has been all things theater. She studied, performed in numerous school shows and on the main stage at the local children’s theater, as well as interned for a year at the Northwest Children’s Theater. Her plans are to finish her undergraduate education and go on to law school to put some local bad guys in jail.