Sunday, 9 May 2010

Fair Trade Earrings

You guys know I make stuff and I'll occasionally refer to something new I've come up with.  I don't like to use my Mrs Jones space for overt and obvious advertising - I reckon I've put the links down the sides, if you visit and you like something there, you'll buy it.  I'm not naturally pushy when it comes to 'selling' my things, even though I am very proud at how something's come out (if I don't think it's good enough, it doesn't go on the stall or the websites).

But a few months back I was wandering around a few of my favourite online bead shops (where I get my supplies) and came across Acholi Beads and I thought they were lovely.  I didn't know what they were so read up on them.

These beads are handmade by Ugandan women of the Acholi tribe.  They fled civil war in the north of Uganda and ended up in refugee camps in a hillside slum just outside the capital, Kampala, where the only money they could earn to feed their families and the orphans they cared for was $1 a day crushing rocks in a quarry.

A young chap called James A Pearson came along, saw that he could help and set up Acholi Beads.  The women now make these lovely beads by recycling paper (tearing them into strips, rolling them up and then soaking them in varnish).  It was something they were already doing, but he advised them on microfinance, investing, design, collaboration and setting up working co-operatives.  It is both Fair Trade and socially proactive business.

The women are now no longer working in the quarries.  The beads (and the jewellery) they make are bought from them for a fair price and then made available to retailers.

I have bought some of the loose beads and have made three pairs of earrings so far (I have more beads but haven't made them into anything yet - I'm thinking perhaps a bracelet.....).  Actually, I've made four pairs but I liked the orange and blue pair so much I've kept them. The beads are fairly large but because they're made of paper they weigh very little.

The three pairs are online now and available from  You can click on 'Latest Things' and they'll be there, or put 'Acholi' into the search box.

I hope you'll have a look as I think this is such a truly worthwhile project. If they prove popular, I will buy more beads which will help the Ugandan women.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I absolutely love those beads, as you can probably tell by the way I have just bought some of your earrings! Thanks for that and thanks for the link.

Mrs Jones said...

Ms Cheese - thank you! Yes, they're lovely, lovely beads, and the colours are so random. I shall put them in the post to you tomorrow.

Kella said...

I have a few of these beads too, they are certainly unique.

Anonymous said...

They are beautiful!!

Twiglet said...

I bought some beaded stitch markers made in a similar way by women in Botswana.There was a stall at the Builth Wells Woolfest. or
They are really lovely and hopefully, by purchasing them we are doing something good for mothers and families in great need.

Anonymous said...

Do you do any clip-on earrings? I am a hole-ophobe... :(

Mrs Jones said...

Kella - they're lovely, aren't they? And such a simple idea too.

Anonymous1 - A good size as well.

Twiglet - when things are as lovely as this, the fact that you're helping people out is a fabulous bonus.

Anonymous2 - indeed I do. All my dangle earrings that hang from hooks can be converted to clip-ons. I also have more traditional style clip-ons. If you type in 'clip on' into the white search box at the top of the page, you'll see what I mean. If you're interested, then drop me an email at or