Emma was excited about the potential of the beads – both as parts of beautiful jewelry and as a way to impact the lives of the women who make them. She developed several prototypes that convinced Scott there was synergy between her design and the African materials.
“When I left my career with the UN World Food Programme I left with goals to join my two passions – making a real difference in the lives of people around the world and jewelry design,” Hunt said. “This project is a perfect fit."
Chirpwood then arranged for Pascaline Menezero, a recent Bridge2Rwanda scholar attending the University of Richmond, to travel to Auburn where she learned the basics of jewelry assembly at EJD under Emma’s tutelage. Pascaline then returned to her native Rwanda where she worked as a summer intern for Chirpwood supervising and coordinating jewelry production with women’s co-ops.
“There are immediate and future impacts from this partnership,” said Scott. “First, we employed a number of African women at wages higher than prevailing ones.”
Second, if sales figures are strong enough, Chirpwood and Emma Jane Designs hope to produce more jewelry in the coming year. This would create more employment for women in Rwanda and provide good wages, healthcare and a safe environment.
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“I do not believe in accidents” said Scott. "The fact that I was asked to help Rwandan women who craft beads – something I know absolutely nothing about –and I just happened to be friends with a rock star in the handmade jewelry world is not a coincidence”