Gifts for Good from Africa: Unique ZuluGrass Bead Jewelry

Share Article

Organic Clothing Retailer, Proudly Announces the Addition of the Leakey Collection; a Fair Trade Certified Jewelry Line Sustainably Made by Maasai Tribeswomen

Fair Trade Jewelry

Beads for Learning Help Educate Kids

Environmental and social justice are inescapably intertwined. Only by ensuring both can you truly have a sustainable business.

In 2000-2001 Kenya experienced a severe drought that devastated pasture lands. The indigenous Maasai tribes lost most of their cattle and with them, their livelihood. The men drove the few remaining animals hundreds of miles away in search of better grazing while the women sought new ways to feed, clothe, and educate their children. A tall, dry, drought-resistant grass (that the cattle wouldn’t eat) provided a solution. Philip and Katy Leakey came up with an imaginative idea to utilize the beading abilities of the Maasai women to turn this grass into a western-inspired jewelry line, the Leakey Collection.

Eco-Fashion retailer, has added this inspired bead jewelry to their extensive line of organic clothing and accessories because it is both uniquely beautiful and sustainably made. The webstore already carries a wide assortment of jewelry made from recycled metals including gold, silver, steel and even disarmed nuclear weapons cabling. This new line is unique because the beads are made by harvesting grass, one blade at a time. The grass grows with a hole in it and is hard and durable, often used in the furniture industry because of its strength. The long grass is dried and cut into bead-size pieces and dyed in lovely hues which are then strung into necklaces and bracelets.

The jewelry is made in the homes and gathering places of the Maasai women, allowing them the flexibility to care for their children as they work. Paid by the piece, the artisans can work as much or as little as they choose. This project offers employment to over 1400 Kenyan women, depending on the season, and a percent of the sales is donated back to the local communities in the form of health benefits, education, and infrastructure. has always considered human rights and social issues along with environmental sustainability of their products. This year, they started a blog series, Fair Trade Fashion Round-Up, to highlight manufacturers whose entire business model focuses on Fair Trade. According to Adrienne Catone,’s owner, “It’s not enough to choose eco materials if the product is then made in a sweatshop. Environmental and social justice are inescapably intertwined. Only by ensuring both can you truly have a sustainable business.”

About, an eco-friendly e-tailer, offers sustainable apparel and specializes in hard-to-find items such as organic cotton bras and lingerie. sources clothing made from sustainable fabrics and low-impact dyes. They only work with overseas manufacturers who ensure that all workers are treated fairly and are safe from sweatshop conditions. The company is named after the mythological woodland creatures that live in the heart of the forest, honor all things in nature, and who celebrate life with joyous abandon.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Adrienne Catone
since: 09/2009
Like >
Visit website