Sometimes beautiful things can come from struggle and hard times. Between 1999 and 2001, Kenya suffered from a severe drought that wreaked havoc on families and their livelihoods. Philip and Katy Leakey, the designers behind the Leakey Collection were struggling to financially support many Maasai families, and needed a long-term solution. Inspiration struck when Philip Leakey noticed an abundance of a hollow and tough drought-resistant grass. Dyed to many different colors and combined with Czech and Japanese glass beads, Zulugrass beads are now used to create beautiful and sustainable jewelry.
About The Leakey Collection and Zulu Grass
Based in The Rift Valley Kenya, East Africa, The Leakey Collection founders Katy and Philip Leakey, combine their talents in interior design and the arts with their love of nature to develop stunning handcrafted products for an international market.
Using natural elements such as fallen wood, grass and porcelain, these renowned designers create unique products while protecting the environment and providing economic opportunity to the local communities. Zulugrass and Zuluwood beads, bracelets and necklaces are sold in stores worldwide. The entire collection is now available on LeakeyLife.com, their online retail site. From high fashion jewelry to home interior design accessories, The Leakey Collection’s natural elegance distinguishes this high end product line as one of the world’s premier offerings.
I don’t know of very many jewelry items that come with the story that Zulugrass items have. The creation of each jewelry item is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and the will to thrive of the Maasai women of Kenya. The process begins when the grass used to make Zulugrass beads is hand-cut — blade by blade. Naturally hard and strong, the grass is already hollow, making it ideal for the creation of the Zulugrass beads. The grass beads are then dyed and then strung onto a strong elastic with hand-blown glass beads to create earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and other items.
What impressed me the most about the Zulugrass necklaces were the vibrant colors of the grass. From grays to reds to blues, Zulugrass comes in a variety of colors with matching beads that make them a great accessory item. The beads are unique in size and there are very slightly variations in the color which (I think) gives the necklaces tons of personality. Not only that, but because of the elastic, you can convert the necklace into a bracelet, arm band, headband, or maybe even a belt, which makes the Zulugrass necklaces incredibly multi-functional. If you have multiple strands of different colors, then you can combine them to make for really colorful necklaces or bracelets with more than 250 color combinations.
What initially started as an effort to support a few families has grown into a company that employs over 1200 Kenyans. The Maasai women can set-up their mobile workstations to create these jewelry items, helping to support their families and communities. I love that the creation of this jewelry is not only carrying on the Maasai tradition of beading, but it is also providing a way to help sustain the Maasai culture. Sustainable grass, sustainable business, sustaining a culture.
The Leakey Collection Online
- Visit The Leaky Collection Website
- “Like” The Leakey Collection on Facebook
- Follow The Leakey Collection on Twitter
The WiC Project The Leaky Collection Zulugrass Giveaway
One winner will receive a lovely Zulugrass blue cross pendant necklace.
- Visit www.leakeycollection.com and leave a comment with the jewelry item you like the most.
- For ONE bonus entry, follow The Leakey Collection on Twitter and leave a comment with your Twitter handle or “Like” The Leakey Collection on Facebook and leave a comment with your FB name. Feel free to drop a note telling them The WiC Project sent you. 🙂
- For ONE more bonus entry, subscribe to The WiC Project via reader or via email and/or “Like” The WiC Project on Facebook. Leave a comment letting me know that you have.
Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST, November 26, 2010.
Visit our Giveaway Rules page for general giveaway rules that also apply to this giveaway.
Disclaimer: This post consists of my (and/or fellow tester) opinions only. Your experiences may be different. No compensation was given for this review/giveaway. I did receive a free product from the manufacturer or their representing PR agency to use and test for the purposes of this review. This did not affect the outcome of this review.