Handcrafted Celebration

Earthy joy meets elegant vision
Kioni means “She Sees” and the platform’s vision is a tour de force of vitality and charming pieces. The handcrafted, often beaded pieces, reflect a veneration for womanhood and South African  culture and artistry. We wish to thank Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer Maricha Tempel for agreeing to answer a few questions for us at Hand/Eye. 
 
What products can buyers expect to see at the NY NOW and Artisan Resource Exhibition? 
 
Kioni prides itself on selling top-quality, handmade jewelry and accessories. We support small businesses in rural areas around the globe by collaborating with the makers to produce contemporary designs. NY NOW is the first tradeshow we're doing so all our products are brand new! Some of the products we are debuting include:
  • Handcrafted beaded jewelry from South Africa
  • Authentic, embroidered accessory bags with contemporary African illustrations
  • Hand-strung brass beads from India
  • Handmade brass-plated pendants and earrings - woven with strands of beads
  • Embroidered insect brooches - handmade with intricate beadwork
  • Finely woven jewelry 
 
Can you please share some of the processes behind these products?
 
Our Kioni team works closely with many well-known South African Illustrators, designers, and makers to ensure unique and exclusive designs. We identify small business owners who are excellent in their craft and start working closely with them to produce unique products that stay true to their craft. We also empower them both by supporting their business and giving them an international platform upon which to sell. 
 
Some of our products change hands between 2-3 times and get moved from one small business to the next. For instance, one business does the brass work for us, another the beading. It's a truly collaborative effort! 
 
What kind of materials, tools, and machinery are used?
 
Kioni’s products are made from a wide range of materials, including beads, wire, woven wool, brass, white metal and embroidery thread. 
 
In terms of tools, our makers use very basic ones such as pliers and wire -- tools that are easily attainable in rural areas. Often times we also serve as educators, introducing new techniques and tools to our makers. For example: instead of using a white pencil to draw illustrations onto fabric, our embroiderers are being trained to use silk-screening for consistency in mass production.
 
What do you envision for your brand's future?
 
At Kioni, we strive to do what's good and what's right. Our aim is to donate 25% of our profits within two years toward community upliftment efforts, job creation and sustainable product development in rural or poverty-stricken areas. By empowering small business owners, we aim to help those communities develop and thrive by stimulating job creation, specifically for women who can earn an income while working from home. This gives them the opportunity to earn their own income while still being able to raise healthy kids in a safe environment.  
 
We make no small plans. Simply put, our vision is to change the world. Or at least a part of it. We want to be in every single store that sells handcrafted products and cares about the world around them. We want our jewelry to bring joy to the people who make and wear it. 
 
What kind of long-term changes do you hope your project has on both the local and global community?
 
We want to see thriving communities. As mentioned, we hope to achieve this through job creation.
 
In terms of local crafters, we want to help them think outside the box with product development. They already inspire us and we want to further inspire them to produce contemporary products that speak to the international market -- while still being authentic and true to their heritage. Kioni is committed to inspiring creativity and giving people the opportunity to spread their wings, to dare greatly and try something new.
 
Long-term, we would love to be involved in large-scale training programs to empower even more people. Our aim is to get businesses and governments involved to make this happen!  Since our products already support multiple small businesses in several countries, our aim is to have the same impact on every community we support! We want to see thriving communities all over the globe. The future is in our hands, and we believe Kioni can make a difference!
 
Kioni’s handcrafted brooches,exquisite pendants, and more will be exhibited for potential buyers at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource February 3-6 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
 
For more information and to buy products, please visit: https://kioni.co.za
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