Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Get to know the Andean Collection: chic, ethical and natural!

I was struck by the fun colors and beauty of the Andean Collection's jewelry at a recent tradeshow. This is the kind of jewelry I look for in the summer when I have a simple white tee or blouse and just need that added pop of color. What's even better is that they are a really interesting company. The jewelry is made with sustainably harvested seeds from the rainforests and lowlands of South America, primarily Ecuador. The commercialization of these seeds allow both farmers and artisans to earn livable wages. Designed collaboratively by NYC designers and indigenous artisans in Ecuador, the Andean Collection's on-trend and socially conscious designs are made of:

Acai (ah-sai-ee): known for its high antioxidant and energizing properties
Huayruro (why-yoo-roe): naturally colored deep red or black
Jaboncillo (hab-own-see-yo): the fruit of this tree was traditionally used for soap
Pambil (pam-beel): the wood from these trees is often used to construct houses, lances and bows, its leaves are woven into roofs of native huts
Tagua (tahg-wah): also known as "vegetable ivory," it grows from regenerative pods that emerge from the Ecuadorean Ivory Palm trunks and the seeds are dried for 3 to 5 months before being able to be carved into jewelry

This is the part we really love- the Andean's Collection's non-profit "arm" is the Andean Project (AP) where they focus on providing supplemental services to their local artisans and their families. The collective mission of the two organizations is to promote the economic, cultural and social rights to basic human needs, such as housing, food, decent employment, cultural identity, health services and education. Currently, the AP pays secondary school fees for the artisans and their children who live in poverty stricken coastal and mountainous regions of Ecuador. The AP is also providing the artisans with comprehensive training programs and they will develop subsequent program areas over the next year.

They create to encourage change. The Andean Collection was founded to bring sustainable change to impoverished communities in South America. They offer artisans the opportunity to participate in the global market while inspiring their customers with access to the elusive world of the rural Andes. Amazing!

They were just on CNN! It's a beautiful video. Watch it if you can- it's quite inspirational!

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