When our boys were toddlers my friend Michelle and I used to let them walk along side us on the beach while we combed the sand to find beautiful treasures of sea glass. Two states and six years later, when Michelle decided to start a business creating jewelry made from sea glass, she ran into an interesting problem. The now common practice of recycling has made Sea Glass increasingly more difficult to find. Part of her desire was to create jewelry using environmentally friendly recycled materials. When researching alternatives to sea glass she came across recycled glass beads made in Ghana. She fell in love, and her Lollie Beads creations were born.
African glass beads have been made by tribes for centuries in areas such as Kenya and Ghana, but have seen a recent resurgence in popularity due to the global heightened desire for environmentally friendly products. The glass beads have a similar texture and translucent look that is reminiscent to that of sea glass. I love the fact that she only sources her beads from Fair Trade suppliers to ensure that the artists who make the beads benefit directly. Fair Trade partnerships were created, and strive to ensure that the trade and retail of handmade creative products are produced in safe and fair practices. Their goal is to continue to improve the working conditions of those in developing countries, to ensure fair trading partnerships between organizations and producers, and to sustain the economic growth of developing countries by linking producers to new trading avenues.
I had first seen Ghana glass beads when through social media I followed my sister-in-law on the ONEMoms trip to Ghana last spring. There ONEMoms helped to usher in the inaugural vaccine program with the GAVI Alliance. The ONEMoms team also visited a glass bead factory on their trip where they observed how they were made, and posted photos of the resulting gorgeous glass beads that I had never seen anything like before.
I suppose part of my close bond with my sister-in-law and my friend Michelle comes from sharing the values of caring for the environment, and the desire to give back. It still felt like some amazing full circle somehow when within 6 month they both introduced me to these stunning beads, that had been around far before any of us, but that I had never seen before last spring. I fell in love with the African continent when I spent six months traveling through it in my twenties. Ghana was one of the countries I did not get to go to, but I tend to gravitate towards anything made in that region, and love to support tradespeople there. With the holidays approaching I scooped up a bunch Lollie Beads Bracelets to give as gifts, and of course a few for myself to wear too! Michelle is now selling Lollie Beads at craft shows, a few boutiques, and they can be purchased at www.lolliebeads.etsy.com. Sea Glass lovers rejoice!