Why Kipato Unbranded?
Kipato is the Kiswahili word for income. This underscores the social justice core of the enterprise. We ensure that our artists to are empowered by their work and receive fair wages for their creativity.
Why unbranded? Because it is not for the brand itself but for the people who create it. We believe that beautiful jewelry should not be out of reach for everyday people and therefore are striving to create an enterprise that is accessible and approachable.
Our brand is adaptable, simple, and ethically responsible- the collections are designed to be versatile, suitable as much for a high profile journalism awards event as for a casual Saturday afternoon with friends.
Our products are created from recycled materials, and our packaging and operations are eco-friendly, making it an environmentally responsible enterprise.
THE (DUAL) PROBLEM
In Dagoretti Market, Elijah works relentlessly in the mounting heat of Nairobi: hammering away at sheets of brass, cutting them into thin shapes, rolling these out out on a cylindrical piece of wood. As he creates, his concentration is so sharp you could use it to cut through the brass in his hands. His work slowly comes together to form the intricate, delicate artistic designs that will end up adorning someone’s hands or neck.
In Kibera, Ojiko does the same.
This same scenario plays out, over and over, as many jewelry makers in lower income Nairobi neighborhoods painstakingly create beauty with their hands, some as independent contractors, others in group workshops run by luxury jewelry brands.
Being an independent jewelry maker in a lower income neighborhood in Nairobi is not easy. Artists depend on employers to give them access to larger markets. And while the jewelry industry in Kenya thrives on the labour of artists like Ojiko and Elijah, their salary is dependent on the whims of their employer, and often is only a very small proportion of the profits their work would generate. On the flip side, their jewelry pieces are mostly aimed at high end luxury stores, selling at prices that are normal for the target market but which are exorbitantly out of reach for the majority of everyday people.
And so, Kipato Unbranded was born.