Dominic Sansoni, a dearly loved family friend of Koshi's who runs Barefoot (a quintessential shopping destination in Sri Lanka) introduced Koshi to Gina Joseph, founder of Zola India.
Zola India supports rural artisans to pursue their traditional crafts and to express themselves through the creation of wearable art, helping to create sustainable economic opportunities. Zola India works with over 50 artisans across rural India – from Dhokra metalsmiths and Pattachitra artists from Odisha, Toda embroiderers from Tamil Nadu, wall mural artists from Kerala and Bidri metalsmiths from Karnataka. Gina shared with Koshi, that many of these artists are unable to continue in their traditional lineage of craft – as there is no longer a market locally for their work. Gina’s aim (and now ours!) is to get sustainable revenue to these artists, by finding them new customers in new markets, so that the world does not lose these art-forms.
Salvage, Sri Lanka
Salvage was founded seven years ago by designer Subha Grassi. Koshi and Subha went to school together, and have known each other since they were kids, but hadn't seen each other in about 20 years. Koshi's cousin, Tony Senewiratne, who is a philanthropist in his own right and on the Salvage board of Directors, re-connected them, when Koshi told him she'd seen Salvage's jewelry online and at Barefoot (thanks again, to Dom!).
Salvage was formed as an innovative attempt to raise funds for Community Concern Society. CCS is a non-profit NGO set up by Subha’s parents in the 80’s, that supports a large number of projects nationally. In 2010, funds were running low for a Drop in Centre for HIV Positive people, and Heavena, a shelter for battered women. Salvage was born in an effort to raise funds to continue these initiatives. Salvage educates, trains and gives individuals the skills to be entrepreneurs and to earn a fair wage to educate and care for their families. Salvage sells a large range of earrings, bracelets, bangles and necklaces. Each product is unique and made with materials that would otherwise be sent to landfill. The materials used to create the products are collected from a network of donors that they have built up over the years, both small scale (local bottle cap collection, newspapers and bike inner tubes) and large (collecting leather or denim off cuts from high-end brands like Lululemon and Hugo Boss in factories around Sri Lanka).
We are collaborating with Joseph Naruki of Naruki Craft in Kenya to curate a collection of ethically sourced Maasai glass beaded jewelry, handcrafted with locally sourced materials.
Joseph is the first born of two siblings and the founder of Naruki Crafts which is a small business enterprise in Nairobi, Kenya. He is passionate about beadwork as he learnt the craft from his mother and later in a tertiary school as a profession.
He has a small workshop in Nairobi where he does beadwork with the help of his sister and his two employees, Lydia and Kyle. Lydia does beadwork while Kyle does the cutting of the leather for the dog collars and belts. Joseph has also partnered with the Self Help Women’s group, a group of 6 Maasai women located in the rural areas of the Great Rift Valley, who do the beadwork for the dog collars.
They earn income for their families while keeping their precious beading tradition alive for future generations.
All employees are paid fair wages. The income they earn is used to support their families. All the materials are locally produced
Joseph says he appreciates the international market provided by customers of Now Chase the Sun, because it forms a core part of income and livelihood for himself and his team.
A note from the source of all truth, Google (wink) - Maasai (not Masai) is the correct spelling of this noble tribe: it means people speaking maa. Masai was the incorrect spelling of the British settlers and has remained in current use.