Happy Friday, y'all! I wish you could see my face as I write today's post because I am smiling ear to ear. I have always been a big fan of supporting local businesses, but this one holds a special place in my heart. Akola is a handmade jewelry company that's beauty goes far beyond just the beads on the jewelry. For those of you who haven't heard of Akola, let me introduce you.
PS - keep scrolling to learn how you can win the bracelet I designed (pictured above)!
Akola jewelry is a 100% nonprofit jewelry brand that was started here in Dallas by Brittany Underwood. Akola's jewelry is all handmade by local women in Dallas and Uganda. Akola jewelry is sold both here locally in Dallas, online, and at Neiman Marcus (it's actually a top 10 jewelry seller y'all!). Brittany started Akola as way to give women from the most marginalized communities in these cities an opportunity to learn an employable skill and lift themselves out of poverty. I mean, how amazing is that? It's hard not to get behind a brand that is going above and beyond to enrich the lives of women and better her community.
Apart from falling in love with the heart of Akola, I have been a big fan of Akola Jewelry since they opened. If you live in Dallas I guarantee you've seen this necklace everywhere - it's a long-time favorite (I styled this necklace here)! Anyway, after receiving an invitation from Akola to go behind the scenes, tour their production center, and meet some of the beautiful women making the jewelry, I couldn't resist! So, two weeks ago I headed to their production center and I finally get to share it with you!
Upon arriving, I was greeted by the Akola team and brought into their product room - a community room at an apartment complex. Looking around the room, I couldn't help but smile and feel the creativity. In the room were rows of tables each filled with 3-6 women calmly, carefully, and joyfully creating jewelry that I've worn! Was it a shiny, state-of-the-art production center? No, and that was the point. Placing the production center in a community room in the midst of apartments was oh-so-intentional. This production center was meant to be a blessing to these women. It eliminated some of the biggest hurdles for single women trying to find a job - child care, transportation, strict hours. This was a place that felt like home. Although I didn't see any kids when I visited, kids are always welcome should childcare fall through or a mother struggle to get help. How rare and yet how incredible is that?
Once I toured the room I was introduced to Mary, my jewelry mom, and her beautiful spirit no doubt blessed me more than she could ever know. Through her wisdom, kind words, and help, Mary helped me design and create my very own Akola bracelet. I can't tell you how much fun I had designing a bracelet, but the highlight for me was definitely getting to know Mary and hear her story. What an incredible gift Akola is giving these women by teaching them such a valuable skill in a space full of compassion, kindness, and support.
Now for the fun part - while there I got to design and make two bracelets, which means I get to gift one to you! If you want to win one simply check my instagram throughout the day and enter to win!
Below is an excerpt of how one one is designing her story with Akola Project:
"On Stephanie's first day at Akola, she had not worked for 17 years. Through an internship with New Friends New Life, Stephanie began processing orders and offering customer support in the Fulfillment Center. The thought of learning new skills on a computer, much less Quickbooks accounting software, was daunting. With the encouragement of Akola's Empowerment staff, Stephanie started learning how to type and send emails.
Two years later, Stephanie now oversees the fulfillment of every Neiman Marcus order, holding the highest quality of standards. This year, she celebrated four years of sobriety and a promotion to Akola Office manager with her five children and twenty grandchildren."
photography: akola project team
This post was created in collaboration with Akola Project. All opinions are my own. Thanks you for supporting those brands that support Fleurdille.