Milan to Maasai; Handcrafted Artisan Jewelry

It’s not often that I come across a line of jewelry that gets me really excited.  Not only does it fit my design aesthetic but my social conscience as well.  As much as I love the jewelry, the story behind it is even more amazing….

Hundreds of tiny glass beads are strung together to form amazingly beautiful jewelry

Artisan Jewelry

This extraordinary jewelry is meticulously handcrafted by 200 Maasai women on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, East Africa from hundreds of tiny glass beads.

This is an incredible story about saving trees by replacing deforestation with artisanship. Until this jewelry project, the Maasai tribeswomen in this region generated income by cutting down trees and making and selling charcoal. This resulting deforestation was unsustainable and destructive to the balance of the ecosystem. How amazing that this jewelry has become an innovative environmental solution. By providing an alternative income source, these women have been able to shift from logging, back to their artisan roots to create this stunning wearable art.

Devotion, bravery, status. Unity of family, harmony of community and balance of nature.

These are just a handful of the core concepts the Maasai people hold in high regard. Though ideas circulate amongst generations, consolidated by the advice of mothers and the command of elders, nowhere is social value granted a more elegant expression than in the art of beadwork undertaken by the women of each community.  Women of the Maasai have the age-old habit of gathering together before, after and in-between their daily chores to craft beautiful jewelry. Hundreds of tiny glass beads are strung together in stunning patterns and shapes.

A community of Maasai women gather to craft their glass beaded jewelry


This all began as an extraordinary jewelry collection designed under the mentorship of Francesca Torri Soldini at Italy’s prestigious Istituto Europeo di Design. From there, Maasai artisan women meticulously handcraft the designs into breathtaking jewelry.Think high fashion fusion where Milan meets Maasai.

The development of this alternative microenterprise now protects the environment, preserves indigenous culture, at the same time creates a stable and sustainable income source for the women. Now that’s a beautiful thing on many levels!

A community of Maasai women gather to craft their glass beaded jewelry

Can you see why I’m so excited?  Adorn yourself with this incredible jewelry and be a part of making a difference! View the jewelry collection here

Diane Kennedy, eco-fashion, plus size clothing, made in Canada,

My Thoughts on Conscious Living

As a designer of an organic clothing line, I can’t help but be more conscious of the choices I make in my daily life. While I’m far from perfect I try my best to make ongoing changes to make a difference in how I live. This post is a bit of a ramble and it’s purpose is not to shame others for what they’re not doing. This is just my stream of consciousness on the topic of conscious living.


Now that I have a tiny city garden, I don’t give a lot of thought to organic gardening. I just do it! When my son was small and traipsing  through the yard it was always in the forefront of my mind. Who wants their child playing in a chemically coated existence? Now it’s just habit:  chemicals are not bought. Plants are chosen to be tough as well as beautiful and they need to do well without sprays. A beautiful red rose is not so beautiful with yellow and black spotted leaves but the idea of inhaling the chemical spray to get rid of spots is much worse. I choose roses that are (almost) black spot free. While I don’t worry much about bugs, there always a few that I deal with manually. Yep…squishing them or cutting off the leaves. Don’t laugh…but that’s me skulking around in the dark collecting slugs, strawberry root weevils or cut worms. They are easy to find in the dark with a flashlight and a recycled yogurt container. It’s the best way of dealing with a plant that’s getting eaten. Just go and eliminate the problem.

Early Hellebores in my organic garden


Shopping at the local farmers market has become a Saturday morning pleasure. What tastes better than locally grown produce? Whenever possible I choose organic eggs and meats farmed without antibiotics, what goes in our bodies is so important. Am I religious about this?…no I’m not, but I try to eat well, fresh and local whenever possible. It just tastes better!

Organic carrots at the Vancouver Farmer's Market


This admittedly was not an area that I even thought much about until the last few years. You may know about sodium lauryl sulphate (cancer causing nightmare of a chemical that makes lovely luxurious foam) I always check the labels on all bath and soap products now. I definitely don’t want to soak in it! If a product makes foam I always read the label. An absolute pleasure for me is lovely smelling natural soap. Amazing natural scents like old rose or lavender are my little treat. I buy Dr. Bronners soap for dishes and hand soap; some cleaning as well. Citrus is my fave here.

DR. Bonn


While I’ve been a die hard Lancome moisturizer fan for years, this time I bought a naturally sourced brand. It smells like old roses too and I’m enjoying using it for daily wear. Make-up is the one area that I need to improve the most. I admit to buying big name brands now, but the more I read, the more I realize this needs to change too. It’s going to start with lipstick. Apparently we eat some ridiculous amount in our lifetimes, something like 4-7 pounds. Yuck. If any of you have any tried and true organic beauty brands, I’d love to hear your suggestions. I hope one day to write about my findings on this topic….products that I’m sure are far healthier than what I’m using now.

Andalous Natural 1000 Roses Cream

That’s the thing…small changes in the right direction. Hopefully I’ve inspired you to make more of your own!

Diane Kennedy, eco-fashion, plus size clothing, made in canada,