Kazuri: a Swahili word that translates to “something small and beautiful”
Kazuri Beads: a factory that provides regular employment to local village women, many of who are single mothers
Located on what used to be part of Karen Blixen’s Estate (aka Meryl Streep in Out Of Africa), is a small factory started by Regina Newman that has now bloomed into a Fairtrade Organization and ships their products world wide. From start to finish, the clay beads and pottery are handmade in the shop, and we got to take a tour of how it’s done!
The clay used is first gathered from the area surrounding Mt Kenya, making the product as authentic Kenyan as possible.
After the clay is processed over a series of days, it is hand molded into beads, cups, plates, etc. and left to set.
After the molds have set, they are fired in over 1,000 degrees Celsius over night, while the factory is empty and the heat doesn’t effect the workers.
After being fired, each clay object is hand painted and then put back in to cook.
Amongst their local orders that need filling, they also have requests from other countries which are all kept logged on this whiteboard in the workshop.
The factory site is equipped with a clinic to provide free medical support for the women employees and their families, something rare in the developing area. With unemployment running extremely high, and being a woman with very little opportunity to have received an education, finding a job can be virtually impossible. With Kazuri Beads, that statistic is lowered by their nearly 400 person staff.
It was encouraging and uplifting to see these women getting to take charge of their careers and be able to support their families. Touring the factory really put into perspective how lucky I am to have a job at home, and earn the pay check I do. Always be thankful for the opportunities presented to you.