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About Us

Kipato Unbranded is a social enterprise that collaborates with local artists, promoting their talents and skills and giving them access to markets. Kipato Unbranded is about beauty and unique designs. We create jewelry that is inspired by everyday people and for everyday people. Our pieces are made from local materials that include brass, recycled bone, and beads.

The name Kipato Unbranded conveys our mission to empower our artists, our artists receive fair wages for the jewelry they create.

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.

The Craft

 

 

The Artists

OJIKO

Sometimes in his sleep, Ojiko dreams of jewelry designs. In the morning when he wakes up, he translates these dreams into pieces of jewelry. Other times, when watching an Indian or a Nigerian movie, he will be drawn by an element of what he is watching, inspiration that he then incorporates into his work.

Ojiko hails from Migori County in Nyanza Province. Like many others, he came to Nairobi to find work, starting to create jewelry in 2005. A year later, he transitioned to working using brass.

​Today, as he lives and works alone in Kibera, he uses his income to support his wife who is currently in university in Kisumu. He loves the challenges of jewelry-making because it enables him to make enough to support himself and his wife. But beyond that, he is driven by the passion that he has for his work.

​​​Our products are created from recycled materials, and our packaging and operations are eco-friendly, making it an environmentally responsible enterprise.

ELIJAH

In a different life, Elijah might have stayed in his home village, working as a digger or a motorcycle driver.

In this one, however, he made the move to Nairobi in hopes of better supporting his family - 1 brother and 3 sisters, and fell upon jewelry making by chance. Today, Elijah has grown to love the work as a way to exercise his creative muscles while making an income.

To him, the best part of this work is designing the jewelry and creating beauty with his hands: "The most beautiful part of my work [is that] I enjoy everything that I make… especially the earrings and bangles."

And as for the most difficult part of his work? The challenge of translating designs from how he envisions them in his mind to a physical creation which can sometimes be time-consuming. A perfectionist of sorts, Elijah will often re-make a design several times if it does not match the vision he had for it at the beginning.

With the income from his jewelry, Elijah supports his family, ensuring that his young brothers and sisters have the chance to go to school.