Tranforming seeds into beads is a passion for the Andean Collection- a sustainable line whose artisans use eco-techniques to harvest seeds in Ecuador and transform them into beautiful fashion forward jewelry.
Amanda Judge founded Andean Collection in 2008 after interviewing women in rural Ecuador about their survival strategies in the face of poverty. “The project was intended to result in an academic paper that presented potential programs to reduce poverty in these areas. As it turned out, instead of just writing about these potential projects, she decided to turn her ideas into an employment generating social enterprise”.
Ecuador has a long history of creating jewelry out of rainforest seeds, it is this ancient technique that the Andean Collection bases it’s jewelcrafting process upon.
(above: Andean Collection Cloud Forest Choker)
(above: Andean Collection Floresta Necklace)
(above: Andean Collection Tagua bracelets)
I sat down with Amanda Judge, who shared with me the sustainable beauty and inspiration behind Andean Collection.
Q: In what way is Andean Collection sustainable?
AJ: I think sustainability encompasses both environmental and economic sustainability. Andean Collection is sustainable because we use eco-friendly resources- that is, seeds that have been harvested without harming the trees and/or reproduction of trees. We transform those materials into accessories through a process that is also good for the environment and which creates very little waste. Excess parts of the seeds are used as animal feed and the remaining usable seeds are dried in the sun- so it’s a low energy drying process- and this part I love, the dust that comes from drilling the seeds is used as a fortifying agent in the clay bricks used to make local houses.
Economically, we are a sustainable business because we don’t rely on charity. We have created a business model that allows everyone along the supply chain to prosper, and in that way we have created a more permanent workforce and therefore an organization that can sustain itself. Hence..we are sustainable!
Q: What inspired you to create this line?
AJ: My inspiration came from the markets in Ecuador. The indigenous culture in northern Ecuador has a strong tradition of making jewlery from seeds, and I really saw the potential to design incredible pieces out of these natural materials for the mainstream market- not just for the fair trade market- and we’ve done that! Anthropologie carries over 20 SKUs of our collection this season!
Q: Many sustainable lines tread more on the “hippie” side of fashion yet the Andean Collection “fuses urban with rural, natural with modern”. How do you accomplish this?
AJ: I’ve always been a proponent of fair trade for it’s ethics, but never loved the traditional fair trade style. I wanted to bring fair trade into the mainstream and show that is could compete both in price and style with other fashion forward jewelry. Our designers (myself included) all live in New York City and we love New York’s ever-changing edgy style. We travel back and forth to Ecuador a lot as well and love the rural beauty there also and the gorgeous bright colors that the indigenous women wear. So combining the NYC edge with Ecuador natural beauty gives you the Andean Collection look.
Q: Andean Collection has a Non-Profit arm: Andean Project. Tell me about it.
AJ: Andean Project was created to ensure that the change in the Ecuadorian communities where we work is healthy and productive, not only economically through good wages, but socially as well. For example, we currently cover the school costs for all our artisans’ children- we’re thrilled to be supporting their education. It gives us a great sense of fulfillment to see these young women and men staying in school, and we promise their parents that we’ll be needing their math and management skills as AC continues to grow!
Andean Collection- not only beautiful on the outside but beautiful on the inside as well.
Andean Collection can be found at Anthropologie and http://www.theandeancollection.com
Check out their blog to hear from local artisans about their craft, culture and the chic Andean Collection http://www.theandeancollection.blogspot.com/
Andean Collection wants you to be sustainable in style. 1 lucky winner will receive a Classic or Polished Tagua bracelet in the color of their choice. Entering is as easy as 1,2,3.
1. If you haven’t already subscribe to this blog (subscribe VIA EMAIL at top right of sidbar)
2. “Like” Andean Collection on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Andean-Collection/130025336143?ref=ts AND sign up for their newsletter at http://theandeancollection.com/Subscribe.aspx
3. Leave the comment “Go Green” on this Post between March 13 and March 19 .
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Good Luck and Thanks for Reading!
Last week’s Lucky winner is Lollie Shopping! Congrats!