When ladies are stopped by the beauty of the Kazuri beads in The Cottage, I always ask “Do you remember the movie “Out of Africa” starring Meryl Streep?” Everyone remembers the movie - based on the book and life story of Karen von Blixen - even those too young to see it when it was first released in 1985. I then tell them the story of the beads:
Situated on what was once a part of Karen von Blixen's Kenyan coffee plantation, there is now a small workshop where ceramic jewelry and beads are made by local women. It is painstaking work. Many of the beads and necklace 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."
Kazuri was started in 1975 by Lady Susan Wood with the social mission of making 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, necklaces and earrings spread, sales increased, as did the facility, and as a result 350 people are now employed. Lady Susan Wood was born (1918) in a mud hut in a West African village. Her parents were missionaries from England in the Ituri Forest. Lady Wood was sent back to England to be educated and married Michael Wood, a surgeon. They came to East Africa in 1947. Both dedicated to making a difference, they finally settled near the Karen von Blixen estate. Lady Wood was a visionary and an unsung hero of her time. Working with the local hospitals, she assisted her husband in founding the East African Flying Doctor Service, which expanded into the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF). Lady Susan Wood passed away in 2006. She is missed but her legacy lives on.
Now under the leadership of new owners, Mark and Regina Newman, Kazuri has been able to expand while still retaining its philanthropic roots. Their guiding philosophy ... to provide employment opportunities for disadvantaged members of Kenyan Society … remains intact. The workshop is still located on a portion of the von Blixen farm, at the base of the Ngong Hills outside Nairobi.
World Fair Trade Federation Approved
As a Fair Trade member, Kazuri ensures fair wages and a clean and safe working environment. In addition, Kazuri supports the medical needs of the ladies through their infirmary. In the U.S., Kazuri America works on various humanitarian projects through the sale of Kazuri necklaces. Currently KA supports Dunamazi an organization that brings clean and potable drinking water the island communities of Lake Victoria.
“Creating hope and opportunity from the earth of Africa."
We are honored to be able to sell Kazuri Beads and feature four necklace styles, as described below. The bead color stories will change. I am always happy to text or email you pictures of other color combinations and we can special order the combination of style and color palette that suits you best. (Not all colors are available in all styles.)
BRIDGETON has been a great seller for us. It is a necklace and bracelet in one! Wear the necklace long (24") or short by detaching the bracelet from the bar and ring clasps. Wallah, you have an 18" necklace and a 7.5" bracelet to wear separately. The Bridgetown is a fantastic and versatile. Colors, as seen above: Old Oak, Moonwalk, Café Latte, Summer Days.
PEBBLES is undoubtedly the most famous Kazuri necklace. The Polka Dot is alive and well as an art form as well as a preferred pattern for ladies of all ages. Particularly the Outerspace color, which is timeless. Like shiny rocks in a bubbling stream at the bottom of Victoria Falls, pebbles will bring a calm confidence to your wardrobe. Colors, as seen above: Beehive, Outerspace.
KALEIDOSCIPE is a stunning masterpiece in any color! The ladies in Kenya love making the Kaleidoscope necklace because it is one of a kind. Each bead is uniquely picked by its maker (within a specific palette) and the combination of beads is never repeated-so keep your eye on this style, Kazuri collectors! This is by far the most fabulous piece in the line so don't be afraid to call and order; it is worth the surprise! We can also match earrings to each individual piece. Colors, as seen above: Nate, Blue Sky, Zara, Palmettos, Outerspace II.
RICHI is named after an incredible musician. A combination of the top selling Kazuri patterns all in one style, Richie is sure to bring a symphony of compliments your way. Colors, as seen above: Richi in Black and White.