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By Chere Di Boscio
Shanley Knox started the Nakate Project after she was inspired by a young child named Cossy Nakate she encountered during her stint reporting on AIDS projects in Uganda.
After Cossy lost her parents to AIDS, she was living with her aunt – a local prostitute– and selling locally made jewellery to survive. Shanley was impressed by the beauty of the perfectly put together paper pieces, as well as their sustainability: each bead is made by tightly rolling recycled paper.
Shanley decided to provide an alternative perspective on international partnership for girls like Cossy and returned to Uganda soon after her encounter with Cossy to launch a new business, Nakate, which provides a marketing platform for handmade products from Cossy’s village.
The project was a huge success, mainly due to the popularity of the earthy, stylish beaded paper necklaces and bracelets.
Later, Shanely incorporated more refined pieces of jewellery fashioned from waste bones and horns from the village cattle trade, and also developed a training system to provide business skills to local people, while promoting values of cultural reciprocity, self respect and sustainability.
Although some may protest the use of animal products in sustainable jewellery, Nakate’s website says: ‘the cattle market is necessary for survival, both for cattle farmers and families sustaining themselves in rural areas. After market sales, the bones and horns of these majestic creatures are often thrown out to burn. We support Ugandan upcycling through putting after-market waste to use through unique designs.’
We’d agree that this brand is as sustainable as can be, but just as importantly, has an excellent knack for translating African craftmanship into global style.
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Product photography: Onyait Odeke
Model photos: Mark Sacro, Model Styled by Antonio Esteban