I have walked pass the Akola flagship store in Dallas a couple of times before, but I’ve never really got the chance to check it out until back in July, when I was invited to attend a book signing event with photo stylist (she was a senior photo stylist at Southern Living magazine!) and author, Leslie Byars Register.
It was a lovely and intimate event, styled by Leslie herself, who was super sweet. We were talking a little bit about photography and food styling techniques when she revealed to me that most of the photos used in her book, Leslie’s Party Diaries, were taken with an iPhone! Including the cover!
In between our chit-chat, I noticed that beautiful necklace with white paper beads and hexagon pendant that Leslie was wearing. It turned out to be the Apollo Necklace, a part of Akola’s Santorini collection. I LOVE the color, the design, and the quality of the piece. And when I learned that 100% of this product sales is going to straight to social mission to empower women, I knew I had to learn more about Akola as a whole women-empowering project, more than just an exquisite jewelry line! So a few weeks ago, I visited the ladies who actually put the necklaces together, by hand, here in Dallas.
Akola means “to work”. Founded in 2007 by Brittany Underwood, Akola trains women in Uganda to put together raw materials which will later be hand-assembled by women in both Uganda and Dallas. Akola builds community infrastructures in Uganda and provide vocational training as well as reliable income for women by employing them with the fashionable and premium Akola jewelry line. Find out more about their impact and model here.
On my visit to the Akola facility, I had the pleasure of meeting this group of beautiful, hardworking women who came from different walks of life. I don’t know what it was, but they just had this vibrant, lively, yet relaxed vibe in that room. It wasn’t intimidating or quiet, you can hear chuckles, one woman helping another, and just a healthy woman-to-woman interaction. “We’re all family here. We’re inseparable! If one of us gets sick or go on a vacation, we would all text her to see how she is doing. And we pray together,” one of the ladies told me. “Each of us has her own strengths, and we use them to help one another with the work we do for Akola. None of us is trying to get ahead on her own. We lookout for one another,” she continued.
I was there long enough to join them in their daily devotional and prayer. Witnessing their sisterhood firsthand was beautiful, inspiring, and empowering! And the fact that these ladies are all doing this, to make an honest and reliable income to help support their families, while helping and empowering women in Uganda makes supporting this project even more fulfilling for me. Imagine so many lives we impact with every pretty jewelry we get from Akola!
Empowered women, empower women. So take part in #DesigningHerStory and look out for our sister friends in Uganda, Dallas, and beyond!