I'm happy to start off 2010 talking about a collection that's truly amazing and one that everyone should know about -- Kora. When I was invited to a Kora party a short time ago, I didn't know much about the company, but I accepted (of course!) because I love jewelry and never pass up an opportunity to buy more.
Kora means "work" in the native language of Rwanda, where the jewelry is made. All the pieces are made out of horn by local artisans and part of the profits go toward building up a self-sustained industry for the plentiful resource in that country. Take a look at some items from the line, and then check out my interview with founder Amy Walker -- it's sure to inspire you.
The candlelit room was decorated with beautiful flowers, while the jewelry was either hanging on rustic fixtures or laying on gold material. Truly exquisite.
Accessory Source: What brought you to Rwanda?
Amy Walker (above): To work in public health. While I was there, I was offered a job in business development, and it was something I always wanted to try.
AS: Why horn?
AW: I searched the country for a material that's valued in the States, can be sourced in Rwanda, and a trade that can be taught. I found two things, horn and wood. Wood is hard to import into the States, and horn has value in the U.S. so it had to be horn.
AS: What's the most rewarding thing about Kora?
AW: Building the infrastructure there -- there are six people working, everyone gets paid and they love the work. It warms my heart when their faces light up after telling them their products are well received. That, as well as building the management support team.
AS: How often are you in Rwanda?
AW: I lived there for 14 months. Now I go back and forth. I'm in Kenya and Rwanda for two to three months doing production, then I'm back in the States for a few months doing sales.
AS: What do you see next for your business?
AW: I have a big dream. Ideally, it becomes a legitimate industry in Rwanda. I'd like to set them up to become manufacturers so they have other clients to work with. Then I would like to go to other developing countries, find materials abundant in those countries and develop them to bring to a Western market.
Are you as impressed as I am? She's only 26.
PS: I was totally expecting a small gathering of women in a tiny NYC apartment. Instead, it was in a penthouse with hors doeuvers, wine, a smashing view and lovely people. I highly recommend attending a Kora party near you!