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Although Fairtrade jewellery brand MADE has now shut its doors, we still have a few of their beautiful pieces left, so, if you’re a fan, pick yours before they disappear.
MADE is a fairtrade jewellery brand focused on creating positive change in Kenya. Their trademark, handmade recycled brass bangles, cage rings, cast necklaces and earrings are bold and beautiful, minimalist and understated. MADE’s signature style is brass in its raw (polished) form, but most are also available in a silver-plated finish.
Neal Gershinson established MADE after returning from a trip to Kenya. Fascinated by the work of a talented community of artisans in Kibera, a neighbourhood in Nairobi and one of the biggest slums in Africa, and with a background in the fashion industry (he is formerly of Burberry and BillyBag), Neal knew there was an international market for their trade.
By investing in these skilled craftsmen he could ensure the production of a high quality product whilst providing a transparent and reliable supply chain. “MADE was founded on a belief that trade, not aid, is key to empowering a community of truly talented artisans in Kenya”. Neal says.
MADE now provides a safe working environment and long term job security to over 80 skilled artisans in their Kenyan workshop, through full-time contracts with benefits, training and education. A team in north London create inspirational mood boards based on African paintings, markets and clothing prints; and current fashion trends. These design ideas are sent to Kenya to be realised.
Focused on sustainability – a way of life in the Kibera community – jewellery design is led by the availability of materials and resources, and the skills and strengths of the artisan team.
Materials are sourced locally at a fair price that supports the local community, and are recycled wherever possible. Brass (often recycled old door handles) is widely used, owing to its decorative qualities, and the fact that it is a durable metal in ample supply in Kenya. Recycled glass gin or beer bottles and horn or bone from the meat industry are also used. Pieces are carved, beaded, cast, soldered, sand sculpted, hammered and shaped using traditional and long-established techniques, thus preserving local culture.
Colour palettes follow the natural tone of raw materials - brass, grey and black from horn, and light blue from gin bottles. Bright oranges and yellows, popular in Africa, are also used.
MADE proves that ethical jewellery can be fashion-led, of good quality and affordable. By wearing their products you are constantly reminded of the passion and pride the artisans take in their work, their personal stories, and of lives changed though empowerment.