I’ve never been much of a jewelry person. I hated the maintenance and even more so, the feeling of restriction or responsibility imposed by something so delicate (i.e. a roughly made bracelet ruining a knit sweater or earrings so heavy, they gave me a headache). However, now that I’m older, I know exactly what I want and what makes me feel beautiful when I wear jewelry. I like several fine/light pieces or one heavy piece, and not 10 chunky Forever21 bits hanging off of me like I’m some chandelier!
When I discovered Amahlé, I found two important things that are extremely important to me: beautiful, delicate, and easy-to-wear jewelry AND it’s ethically made. Amahlé is based in Paris, but celebrates and promotes the traditional craft of South African jewelry. Moreover, Amahlé supports associations in Africa that are trying to improve the lives of villagers in impoverished areas. That’s pretty cool, right?
What’s even more cool is that as Amahlé is changing the scene in Paris (promoting ethically-made jewelry as well as celebrating another culture!), the company wants to go international with its products. You can order their jewelry right now and have it shipped to your door in a jiffy.
I was lucky enough to catch Amahlé at one of their showcases. Amahlé is made up of a two-person team and they were kind to give me a moment of their time for an interview.
Who is Amahlé?
Amahlé is a fashion jewelry brand inspired by African arts and craft. Amahlé is a Zulu word meaning “Those Who Are Beautiful”. Behind Amahlé are Carole and Chloé. We are two friends who met when working as strategy consultants in France and who decided to quit and launch their own brand together!
What’s your brand statement?
Amahlé aims to create beautiful, contemporary pieces of jewelry inspired by African designs that are always ethically-made.
Why sell ethically-made jewelry?
It’s very important to us to highlight the skills and work of our craftsmen and women and make sure that they are fairly paid and work in good conditions. Our craftspeople work from home in their village, next to their families. Additionally, Amahlé closely works with associations who fight for women’s empowerment, against AIDS, and to improve living standards in rural areas in Africa.
What do you think of the current bio (organic) and ethically-made trends hitting Paris?
People are now more and more aware of the modern slavery that hides behind the production of clothes and accessories they buy at cheap prices from big-brand stores. They want to consume in a more responsible way and have transparency as to what they buy, where it comes, and how it was made. This is a great step forward, and we hope that this attitude will continue to develop over the coming years!
What’s your favorite part of your job?
There are two things. The first is the relationship that we have with our craftspeople: to see them happy to get more work and be proud of what they’re making is one of the best parts of our job! But the second thing is just as important: the happiness of our customers when they wear jewelry from Amahlé and tell us how much they love it (and the compliments they receive)! J Our customers are spreading the word about Amahlé’s style, the unique African craftsmanship, and the fact that everything is all ethically-made.
What’s it like to start a small business in Paris?
It’s actually great to start a small business in Paris because there are so many entrepreneurs! You meet new, fascinating people everyday. For example, we share our workspace with around 15 other small business facing similar issues and questions about ethical products. It’s a fantastic opportunity to create synergies together.
What inspires you and your partner?
We’re inspired by successful entrepreneurs from France and South Africa. For example, we admire the work of the South African creators of MonkeyBiz. They employ 450 craftspeople from the poor areas of Cape Town to make beautifully beaded animal pieces that are sold in the most prestigious stores worldwide, like in New York, Tokyo or Paris. They show that ethically-made jewelry is important as well as the cultural exchange/diversity that their products promote.
What’s your favorite piece of jewelry, ever?
A piece of jewelry generally has a story: the story of a journey, of the person who gave it to you, of a particular moment or event in you life.
Chloé: My favorite piece is a ring given to me by my grandmother, and which belonged to my grand-grandmother before her.
Carole: I don’t really have a favorite piece! I change my jewelry all the time. I do love the jewelry I pick up and bring back from my trips. They remind me about traveling, experiencing new places, and discovering different cultures.
Where do you see yourself next?
We would like Amahlé to become THE African-inspired brand, selling jewelry but also other accessories and clothing. We would love to open a physical shop one day as well as become international!
Where can we buy your beautiful jewelry?
You can buy our jewelry online on our website (English version here), or you can come and visit us at our workshop in the 11e district of Paris-- 14, rue Neuve-Popincourt (but please contact us before you drop by!).
You can also find Amahlé’s jewelry in several stores in France and even in LA. The full list is here.
Well, that’s all we have for today, my dear readers. Thank you so much Amahlé for your time!
P.S. Amahlé is currently having a special sale right now until the end of January. Treat yourself now! Shop somewhere awesome. Mon Fiancé surprised me with the 3-paneled Imbasa bracelet for Christmas. I can definitely tell you right now the quality is superb and the craftsmanship will blow you away!