Klaylife is not just a lighting brand…it is a life changing group of women in South Africa that were initially joined together to help a group of HIV impacted ladies and now has grown into so much more. Now with over 65 women working together to create these gorgeous one-off pieces, Klaylife is telling a story we all need to know. Women working to improve their circumstance and to help their families have the opportunities they deserve.
Today we have a chat with Kerri Jones, the incredible woman bringing these gorgeous lights into Australia…
WOW…how incredible is this concept? Tell us about Klaylife and how you came to working with the women of South Africa?
It all came about via Instagram! I stumbled across an image of a chandelier on Karissa Fanning’s ‘The Lane’ and was blown away by how beautiful and unique it was. I was born in South Africa and have always loved the country and the people. When I did my research and discovered the story behind the chandeliers, I got goose bumps. We approached the owner/designer, a beautiful lady by the name of Merewyn who is producing them on her farm with her team of amazing women and then we jumped on the first plane to South Africa to meet them and ask if we could bring their beautiful pieces to Australia. Thankfully, they said yes and trusted us with their babies.
The fact that the lights have such a human story is incredible. It makes them so much more meaningful and in turn, loved much more…tell us about the production of each light from start to finish?
Having spent time in South Africa to witness how the chandeliers are created, it really is magical to see the process from start to finish. First the clay is rolled by hand into beads. Instead of sitting in a cold, lifeless factory, everyone sits outside in the sun, rolling, talking and singing. The beads then sit out in the sun to dry. Once they’re dry, they go into a red hot kiln where they are fired. They’re then hand dipped into a dye and finally, hand strung onto a wrought iron frame (made by the local ironmonger). It’s so beautiful knowing each light was made by loving hands and that no two chandeliers will ever be exactly the same.
There are now over 65 women dedicated to rolling beads and creating their own work of art…this has to be such an incredible feeling?
It truly is incredible. What started as an initiative by Merewyn, to help a small group of HIV impacted ladies gain income whilst looking after their families, the business has grown into something so much bigger. As popularity for the chandeliers grew, more and more women with differing circumstances approached, seeking work. As a result, the criteria has been broadened to local women who are prepared to put in the effort to create something special. More importantly, they’re making a difference to their local community.
Where would you like to see klaylife go in the future? What’s in store for 2015?
So much! We’re working with Merweyn and the team to create new lighting designs and then aiming to branch out into jewellery and furniture. It is also our intention to put a program in place to help this beautiful community even more. Right now, the bulk of these women’s earnings goes into the schooling, clothing and feeding of their children so if we can help with these costs, 2015 will be a good year.