I came across the creations of Jimani Collections on Vepsi, a sustainable online shop, and got in touch with the brand as I not only liked their jewellery designs but also got really hooked by their story and the difference they are making! Indeed, their creations are made by local women in Kenya, the goal being to empower them and allow them to make a decent living for themselves and their families.
Stephanie, the Marketing and Business Development director and also co-founder kindly took the time to answer my questions for you to get to know better what Jimani Collections is about. Enjoy!
What is your background? Where are you from?
I come from Chicago area, and I have a background in finance and marketing. I’ve been interested in the social space for some time now, especially within the ethical fashion industry. Our founder, Jennifer Bentley, is originally from the Dallas area and has spent over 13 years living in Kenya and other parts of East Africa.
How did you embark on the Jimani adventure? Where did the idea spark from?
Jimani Collections started with Jen. She grew up in Kenya and East Africa and she has a deep knowledge of African culture. She also has a strong interest and talent in jewelry design. Through her experience in Africa, she wanted to create an entity that provided consistent employment for women in the area. Through her strong design skills and familiarity with the community, Jimani Collections came to be. I joined the team to help establish the overall marketing strategy along with business development initiatives worldwide.
How was the name Jimani Collections chosen? Does it have a particular signification?
“Jimani” comes from the word imani meaning “faith” in Swahili, and the “J” comes from our partner organizations, Judith & James and the J127 Foundation. I also like to think that the “J” comes from journey, as we’re all on a journey together to bring change to the world.
What is Jimani philosophy?
Jimani Collections exists to transform and expand access to economic opportunity for artisans in underserved communities. We take great pride in making sure that our products give back to the community, both through the sourcing of materials and the creation of each piece.
Would you have 3 words to describe what your brand is about?
Three words to describe Jimani Collections would be empowerment, innovation, and passion. First and foremost we seek to empower women in Kenya, and eventually women around the world. Purchasing our products not only directly impacts the women we work with in Kenya, but it also empowers the consumer to make informed decisions about where their products are sourced and created. We are constantly looking to innovate, whether it be the products we create or the types of training we’re able to provide our women. Lastly, Jimani Collections is based on passion – we’re made up of a group of individuals looking to make a difference in the world. The women we work with have a passion to learn and work in the hopes of changing their lives and the lives of their families.
How do the accessories get designed? What are the inspiration sources?
Each collection is designed around a certain design element, whether it be wood, glass, brass, etc. Each collection has a theme, and we base our marketing of that theme. Our main sources of inspiration are quotes, travel, new and fun materials, and generally new trends. Jen is our principal designer, but we also work with several guest designers along with other members of our team. We typically gather mood boards including inspirations that help guide the design process. Our collections are not permanent as we retire them about every 3 years.
Where and how are your accessories made? Where are the materials you are using coming from?
Most of our accessories are made in Kenya and the surrounding areas. They are handmade from materials such as brass, glass beads, fabrics, and bone by artisans in the community as well as our women. Almost all materials are sourced locally from farmers or other artisans.
Do you have any upcoming plans?
We’re currently experimenting with new home goods and accessories products, and we hope to expand our influence in Kenya to help impact more women very soon.
Have a nice day!