During the two years of navigating the art of dressing for zoom calls where the waist up was only visible, jewellery swiftly became a full-blown obsession that dazzled across our screens. While we emerge from the surreal chapter of ‘work from home,’ it has quickly become apparent that the jewellery mad fever isn’t going anywhere. And we are here for it.
In a recent wave, fashion brands are held accountable for their social and environmental responsibilities. However, the jewellery industry still has a hazy gap between the final piece and its origin. So SATIVA is making noise for Audrey Migot-Adholla. Audrey is the ingenious woman receiving well-deserved accolades for founding the need-to-know jewellery brand Yala. Yala is the first-ever UK jewellery company to become a Certified B Corporation and new to the SATIVA family.
The importance of Yala is the ability to create stunning pieces where there’s more than what meets the eye. So you are not only adorning your body as a vehicle to fuel self-expression. But you are also making a statement by supporting a brand invested in creating positive change. Yala is committed to growing a community that connects exceptionally talented Kenyan artisans with worldwide customers. The inspiration behind Yala embraces the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of African culture. The designs marry traditional handcrafted methods with contemporary design for all modern women.
Leading by example, Yala adopts the power of fashion to advocate for a more sustainable industry. They achieve this by focusing on ethically sourced, recycled and reclaimed materials that hold longevity. Audrey has overcome overwhelming hurdles to foster a transparent supply chain. Her outstanding work has uplifted the high-skilled Kenyan makers financially whilst respecting the planet. As a result, the Yala team across the UK and Kenya create treasures sculpted to perfection.
Who is Audrey Migot-Adholla?
Kenyan-born Audrey Migot-Adholla is the ambitious visionary and CEO behind Yala, officially launching in November 2018. Now living in Bristol, she divides her time between the UK and Kenya. To understand the driving force behind Audrey’s unrivalled passion for her brand, we have to delve further back.
Audrey devoted the name of her company to the Kenyan town where her late grandmother lived. As a result, Yala carries a personal story reminiscent of a time capsule carrying Audrey’s unforgettable memories. The energetic spirit of the Yala brand captures the strong influence of Kenya’s vibrant colours and cultural arts, reflecting Audrey’s childhood.
Before focusing on jewellery, Audrey specialised in textiles and upholstery, where her heritage organically influenced her designs. Along her journey, she has worked part-time as a seamstress and sold her handmade items on Etsy. Then, Audrey moved her attention to jewellery, where her adventure of forming Yala began. Her first move was to venture to Kenya. She developed her team by connecting with numerous people and overlooking factories behind local brands in person to gauge a feel for what she wanted and needed.
Audrey’s team consists of over 150 local Kenyan artisans spotlighting their artistic skills. Yala guarantees the makers are in healthy and safe working environments, allowing Audrey to develop lasting relationships with the artisans. Audrey can distinguish herself from a sea of jewellery companies since she pays the artisans the price they see fair after the prototyping stage. Hearing their stories, she will not negotiate with them to lower their costs, allowing both parties to benefit mutually.
Audrey has shaped a community through Yala, which empowers Kenyan creatives, including stylists and photographers. Yala proudly showcases the diverse African culture and has created a hub for impressive African talent to flourish. Audrey uses beautifully handmade jewellery as a tool to allow individuals to engage with and appreciate African culture and its people wholeheartedly. Through transparency and celebrating her roots and people, Yala is an honest and authentic company creating charming modern jewellery pieces, which is why we are raving about Yala jewellery.
Is Yala a Certified B Corporation?
The simple answer is yes, but what is a B Corp? A Certified B Corporation is a company dedicated to sustaining the highest standards of social and environmental impacts, verified by B Lab. It is essentially about being a part of a positive change through the entire supply chain. That benefits the planet, the company, and its community, including the workers and customers.
Financially empowering all of the people responsible for Yala in the UK and overseas whilst respecting natural resources gained Yala more recognition than becoming the UK’s first jewellery B Corp. In September 2019, Yala celebrated the Best For The World Award presented by B Lab. The award positioned Yala in the top 10% of worldwide B Corporations fulfilling the highest level of accountability and transparency in their approach.
Audrey Migot-Adholla understands that the artisans have numerous dependents counting on their income. Therefore, she pays them far beyond the livable wage to provide them with the opportunity to thrive in Kenya’s economy. Moreover, Audrey directly collaborates with the local Kenyan makers, removing the need for a middle man. Therefore, guaranteeing their wage is entirely fair and honest. Yala also upholds the B Corp Certification due to its efforts to reduce its environmental impacts. A closer look at the materials, the making process, and packaging decisions will illustrate Yala’s approach toward a more sustainable brand.
How are the Yala jewellery materials more sustainable?
Yala attained the B Corp Certification as an environmentally conscious company. They work with raw materials that meet the following requirements.
Can they be ethically sourced, reused and recycled?
If yes, they will create the alluring, bold Yala accessories.
As an ethical alternative to gold, the Kenyan artisans source brass from places such as waste facilities. As a result, the makers extract contaminants prior to the recycling and purification stages. The sourced brass forms the handmade structure of most of the Yala jewellery. Once the artisans create the frameworks of 100% recycled brass for the pieces, such as the Kabola Chunky Chain Link Necklace or the Butere Sun and Star Bracelet Set, they undergo the plating process.
Yala plated gold jewellery is made by electroplating 24k gold onto the brass with a 1-micron thickness. And the silver-plated pieces consist of electroplated brass with an extra chrome coat, providing a high-shine aesthetic and added durability. Additionally, 9ct gold and 14k gold fill or 925 Sterling Silver make up the small components for jewellery fastenings.
Accessories such as the Busia Chain Link Cow Horn Necklace and the Asembo Gold Plated Chain Link Charm Necklace feature reclaimed cow horns in their designs. The reclaimed cow horn comes from farms near the Kenyan workshops, which the farmers would have thrown away. After the grinding and sculpting step, the remaining horn dust becomes fertiliser.
The impressive, eye-catching Mwezi Half Moon Beaded Necklace, the playful Sio Double Wrap Multi Colour Beaded Necklace, and the cute Ahero Gold Medallion Beaded Maasai Necklace utilise the brilliant, bold, high-quality glass seed beads. The Masaai ladies of the BMB workshop use recycled thread to assemble the jewellery with traditional beading techniques. Recycled plastic flour and rice sacks create the yarn for the Yala beaded jewellery.
Who makes your Yala jewellery?
The beauty behind a Yala piece is the opportunity to see the face behind the enchanting pieces. We have spoken throughout the blog about the artisans behind the jewellery pieces when it comes to ethical standards, but who are they?
The BMB workshop employs 158 local Maasai ladies near the Masaai Mara, assembling the beaded gems using techniques passed over generations. The International Fairtrade Association has certified the workshop, ensuring safe and ethical working conditions. In addition, Audrey works with numerous brass makers in and near Nairobi, Kenya. They have become highly skilled experts in creating the meticulous Yala masterpieces.
The key behind Yala maintaining a positive social impact is the weekly workshop visits from a Yala team member based in Kenya. The check-ins assure all artisans are mentally and physically healthy and in safe conditions. This process also allows friendships and lifelong relationships between the entire Yala team for a happy working environment.
How would I style the Yala jewellery?
Jewellery is the ‘piece de resistance’ that gives your outfits the final ‘Va Va Voom’. But there’s an art in effortlessly throwing them on to complete a whole look, and I show you how I do. So have a watch for ideas on how to ‘GIVE YOUR OUTFITS A GLOW UP‘ with the gorgeous Yala jewellery pieces.