French Mum, humanitarian, restless explorer and doer on sabbatical in Cebu (Philippines): one Attila in each arm, I am exploring the “toddlers safe” corners of the region, while trying to keep some room for Me.
Are you one of those wet blanket who can’t appreciate a nice piece of jewelry without wondering “who made it and under which conditions?” Especially when the beautiful bracelet has traveled all the way from a developing country?
I am!I can’t help it.
My obsession with responsible business has worsened since I became a Mum. From food to clothes, even earrings, I need to know how it has been produced. When I found out that the famous Nature, Franck Herval and Ori Tao jewels were made in Cebu, I briefed my special agents (Mr Attila, 4 yo and his 6 y.o. sister) on new our mission: find out how those brands are treating their employees, and the environment.
It’s never too early to care about our planet and learn how to make a difference, isn’t it?
So we booked a tour with Alice from KorLanda Factory. What a nice first impression to meet with a guide not only incredibly knowledgeable but also super patient with the kids! She set the tone of the visit: a fun yet fascinating exploration of the world of jewelry.
All the material used to create the jewels are a tribute to Mother Nature: there are countless jars and trays of plants, shells, stones, crystals, woods, bones, corns, even cores of local fruits. The kids faces were priceless when they were shown skins of fishes and eggs of ostriches that are used to make rings and necklaces (“Mummy check it out! it doesn’t even stink!”)
Controlling the environmental impact of the products
“We are working with nature, totally in symbiosis. There is no plastic here, and all the material we are using is strictly traced and sourced” explained Nature Bijoux Brand manager Amaury Christin.
“The International legislation is very strict when it comes to the protection of the environment, and the impact of our production. There is no trace of toxic component in our products. We have updated lists of all the materials we are allowed to use and we have our own chemical testing units, so we can guarantee that even the smallest earing is abiding with the legislation on the protection of the environment. Every single material is passing through a strict importation process. In the factory, our products are also randomly checked by the Department of Environmental and National Services. And they are eventually checked again according to the importations rules of our worldwide customers“.
This made me look at those bracelets in a different way. They became special.
Ms. Attila was mesmerized by the stories of the designer. How he could create a ring out of a piece of wood, how a beautiful necklace could be made out of seeds. In the R&D department, you feel transported to a magical workshop, where a butterfly turns into a unique pendant, a shell into the most precious necklace and a pinch of pixie dust transforms a feather into sacred earrings. “I can’t believe he can transform anything into a jewel, whispers Ms. Attila with big open eyes. Wish Dad could do that too“. You bet!
When I think about factory in developing country, I imagine dusty loud and overcrowded workshops. KorLanda is just the opposite. It is spacious, surrounded by lush vegetation and the only noise you hear is music (hey, we are in the Philippines!).
Even my super active son was hypnotized by the delicacy of the paintings done by the workers (or should I say artists). Each piece of earing and ring from this collection is hand painted, even the tag of the designer. No wonder this is so quiet here. Mindfulness at work.
“All our staff work 40h a week. Out of the 350, 95% have a permanent contract, explains Christin. We offer trainings to the ones who want to develop their skills in another department. We obviously pay above the minimum wage and all our staff have social and health benefits”. That explains why there is hardly any turn over and that the majority of the staff has been working here for decades!
Icing on the cake .. on the way out of the factory, there is a little shop with some samples of the previous collections you can buy for less than 50% of the price for export. Mr Attila was browsing at the jewels like a collector. He recited the names of the stones, proudly explaining how the enamel was painted.
The kids got a couple of bracelets and I have never seen them caring so well any of their belongings. Once you know the story behind the product, we care more, we don’t simply consume. We own.
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