Thursday, March 24, 2011
A Dog and Two Cats is now offering a collection of fine handmade beaded collars from Kenya. The goal of the Kenyan Collection is to demonstrate that products made in Africa can compete in the global marketplace, while at the same time creating employment for the artisans, in the hope that they will have an investment in, and an opportunity to change, their own future and the future of their children. The company generates income for over 200 Kenyans who otherwise might earn as little as $1,500 a year.
Joan Schultz, the owner, was living in Kenya when a group of Maasai herded 13 of their precious cattle to the US Embassy in Nairobi to express their condolences to the families affected by the events of September 11. “The gift of the cattle, which are so precious to the Maasai, was a way to say how wrong that event was and how sorry they were for our losses. It made me realize that we all have 'gifts' to share and we do what we can to make a difference to help each other in spite of our own constraints.” What we are doing is not charity or a hand-out, but just as the Maasai and many other Kenyans extended their hand in sympathy and concern in their own way, we are reciprocating in our way by providing guidance and presenting their talents to a demanding market.
Ms. Schultz notes that many Kenyans live on less than $1,000 a year. “We contemplated setting up as a non-profit to take advantage of the tax breaks and fund raising opportunities available. But to the Kenyans we represent, that sounded like another way to ask for money or to manage expectations about the products they produce,” Joan stated. “They want to change the image of Kenya as a country with its hand out, one with few real business opportunities”.
This venture brings interest in Kenya and its culture, employs Americans directly and indirectly and provides a product that allows us to adorn our pets that bring joy, better health and service to our lives. They also regularly donate collars to rescue and service companion organizations for fund raising or to bring attention to a special adoptable pet. “We don’t want your donations” explains Ms. Schultz, “what we want is for you to feel good about every aspect of your purchase from The Kenyan Collection, especially knowing that your money goes a long way in influencing the lives of others.”
View the entire collection on our website.