There’s proof that Washington, DC is more than just dark-suited politicians, lawyers and lobbyists. A melting pot of cultures means diverse world views and different forms of expression can be found all over the city. Fueled by passion, art and views on national and global issues, the creative community in DC is making an impact all on its own.
Two women in particular, who are at the helm of their own jewelry brands, are leveraging their love for design to change the way we think about ourselves and the world.
Making a Difference. Together.
Every year since 2010, Kicheko Goods founder Sarah Bayot has been traveling to the same village in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a volunteer. During her visits, Bayot found that many children lacked the resources to go to school, could not afford to eat every day and didn’t have access to clean water. However, she was constantly moved by the beauty, hope and communal spirit of the people.
“Every year I visit the community and every year I see that hope can be made tangible and that resilience is in all of us,” Bayot reflects.
Leveraging her passion for the creative arts, Bayot set out to create beautiful jewelry that helps bridge access to quality education for children who are vulnerable and at risk. Inspired by the joy of the children in Congo, she founded Kicheko Goods in 2014. Meaning “smile or laughter,” Kicheko Goods uses proceeds from every piece to fund one month of school for one child.
Since its founding, Kicheko Goods has proved that the impact made by each and every customer makes a huge difference. In 2014, proceeds from Kicheko were used to help construct a 6-classroom brick school building for the Mango Tree School in eastern Congo. In 2015, Kicheko was able to provide scholarships for 71 students to attend Mango Tree for two years. In 2016, the collective impact of Kicheko’s customers was able to fund nearly 1,600 months of scholarships for students.
Bayot recognizes that the women that make up the Kicheko community are helping to drive this impact. Through her recently launched campaign, “Making a Difference. Together,” Bayot enlisted her very own customers to share portraits and stories to show how every one of us can make a difference in our own small, big, subtle, or dramatic ways.
You can follow their stories on Instagram at @kichekogoods and watch a video behind the impact at kichekogoods.com.
What Is Really Precious?
While growing up in Slovakia, Denisa Piatti watched her father work with his hands, transforming ordinary things like branches into works of art. Her father had a natural gift, but was never permitted to attend art school. Reflecting on the opportunity he never had, her father encouraged Piatti to follow her passions and commit to them 100%. At age 16 after a rigorous examination, Piatti was accepted into a prestigious art school. She completed eight years of formal study in jewelry making in Slovakia and Scotland.
In the years that followed, Piatti worked with a women’s empowerment project in Zanzibar, Tanzania teaching women to make jewelry from local resources. While living there she became intrigued by the process of how people in Tanzania harvested seaweed. Piatti’s experience living simply and humbly in Zanzibar made her reflect on her values and shifted her perspective of what is really precious. She realized that perhaps precious isn’t about the diamonds and pearls, but about the beauty of the process.
From her Washington, DC studio, Piatti founded Denisa Piatti Jewellery with a mission to illuminate the beauty of non-precious material by using precious, traditional craftsmanship. Although she uses some precious metals and stones, such as pearls, she uses them as a vessel to accompany unconventional materials such as acrylic plastics. Contrasting precious with non-precious materials allows the viewer to question what precious really means – in jewelry and most importantly in life.
Piatti’s vision is to redefine the meaning of handmade, and to educate others in the value of time, traditional process, and tools behind what they wear. How does she want people to feel about her jewelry? Piatti responds thoughtfully, “I want them to touch and interact with my pieces, ask questions about them and be curious.”
Contrasting precious with non-precious materials allows the viewer to question what precious really means – in jewelry and most importantly in life.
You can learn more about Denisa Piatti Jewellery’s story and watch a video behind her craft at denisapiatti.com.
Do you know any other fashion companies in DC making a difference? Let us know in the comments!
Feature Image via Kicheko Goods