It started with an African paper bead necklace and two simple ideas: “Little things can mean a lot” and “Women can support each other globally.” What ensued, however, stretched beyond our wildest imagination. Utilizing jewelry as an inspirational tool to spark social change, Beth Schaffer launched the Bluma Project, an initiative that was built on the mission to support women’s employment and empowerment on a global scale. It has since become an ABC icon and staple mission line for our store.
The task: a team travels to Africa throughout the year, working personally to teach women in Rwanda and Ghana the practices of advanced jewelry design; allowing them to be self-employed while supporting their families. The result: an eye-catching blend of intricately designed wooden, glass, and lacquered paper beads that take the form of vibrant bracelets and necklaces. In fact, each one-of-a-kind bauble is handmade by a woman in Africa.
1. bauble bead stretch bracelet – red
2. fabric bead necklace – pink
3. bubble bead necklace – green
4. tiny fabric bead necklace – green
5. tiny fabric bead necklace – blue
6. long strand necklace – green
7. ghana wrap bracelet – pink
8. bauble bead bracelet – green
9. asymmetrical necklace – pink
10. asymmetrical necklace – blue
11. mixed bead and fabric necklace – green
12. ghana wrap bracelet – blue
Designed to mix, layer and pile on one on top of the other for a bohemian-inspired take on color and texture, these ABC icons reinvent an ordinary necklace or bracelet by infusing local materials with international trends and stories. Initially working with women in Kigali villages to add exciting colors to local paper beads, the Bluma team has given the Rwandan women a way to support, educate, and empower themselves through art. Each handmade trinket is designed to reflect the effervescent energy and strength of Rwandan culture. And in Ghana, the Bluma team joins with women in Accra to transform glass beads, which were once used for trading and ceremony into beautifully handcrafted creations that unveil the spirit and culture of behind the Ghana people.
So every time you slip one of these unique, custom designed bead creations around your neck or wrap them around your wrists, you are helping a woman earn a sustainable wage to support herself and her family. Bluma’s newest additions of jewelry will be sold this spring at ABC Home. Shop the collection, above.