Meet our Makers

Bead by Bead

BeadWORKS makes beautiful handcrafted jewelry—but that's just the half of it

Why accomplish just one thing when you can accomplish two? That’s the ethos of BeadWORKS, a social enterprise that not only provides flexible, sustainable employment to rural artisans in Kenya, but strengthens the country’s conservancy efforts while doing so. For women to join BeadWORKS and benefit from its programs, their community must set aside a small piece of land for nature-and-wildlife conservation. In return, the community receives a revenue share from tourism, while its artisans generate income by creating intricate glass-bead accessories and wall hangings.

Recently, Powered by People co-founder Hedvig Alexander traveled to the north of Kenya to join an annual meeting of BeadWORKS community members, where she captured these images, and enjoyed their generous offerings of song, chapatis and sweet tea.

BeadWORKS artisans are able to work from home, enabling them to look after their land, children, and homes while beading.

Many attendees of the annual meeting with the Samburu tribe in the north of Kenya walked for hours to be present. "The resilience and incredible beauty of these women was breathtaking and almost incomprehensible," says Alexander.

BeadWORKS is a byproduct of the Northern Rangelands Trust, which traces its tireless conservation efforts to the 1980s, when Kenya’s wildlife populations had plummeted because of poaching.

BeadWORKS collaborates with more than 1,300 women artisans in nine community conservancies, indirectly benefitting over 7,800 people.

Each bracelet, earring, trivet or wall hanging is meticulously woven by hand—bead by bead.