Bernie lives in Greenfield and has a jewellery stall called ’Out of Africa Jewellery’. All the jewellery she sells is handmade by four ladies in Nairobi, Kenya; Mama Jack, Hellen, Malrush and Janet and a Congolese man Denis. Some is made from semi precious stones designed and made by Denis and Malrush, and some is made of natural traditional materials including recycled glass, Maasai and Turkana beads, Kamba seeds and brass, by the other ladies.
In selling the jewellery Bernie supports these producers, and in addition gives £1 from every necklace she sells and 50p from every other piece to build up the businesses of the Kenyan ladies and help pay for education fees for their children. She also supports two Kenyan men, Mathew and Abraham, with a small livelihood packaging and processing the orders, and for the past four years this helped to put them through business college in Nairobi. It is a small business for Bernie too, and although she doesn’t craft the jewellery personally she makes her customers aware that it is hand crafted and by whom.
Melissa and I had a stall next to Bernie at Helmshore Mill Fair last year and it was really interesting to hear Bernie talking so knowledgably about the origins of her product. Bernie kindly provided me with some photos that show the jewellery being crafted.