Meet Kind Karma Co., the jewelry brand inspired from continuous bad news throughout 2016 (now known as the year of natural disaster and stupid social media posts). With a goal of being “the change we wish to see in the world”, founder Laurinda Lee began working with local Toronto youth shelters and organizations to create a group of motivated, underserved young, optimistic about their futures. Profits from each sale go directly to the new, young artisans and help them fund their dreams of post-secondary education, independent shelter and more.
The brand features handmade unique and trendy pieces made of high quality findings, and chains filled with 14KT gold. My favorite: the white resin crescent necklace! Jump over to their website to hear the stories of their youth and shop their collections, and below for a Q & A with Kind Karma Co. founder, Laurinda Lee.
How did you begin your outreach to underserved youth in Toronto?
It is always a little difficult when you start because it’s a lot of cold-calling shelters and organizations and trying to prove that you are a legitimate organization that really is dedicated to helping their youth. However, we managed to make a lot of connections with individuals who are involved in working with at-risk youth in Toronto at the Buy Good Feel Good expo so we are now in contact with several places to recruit participants into the program. We also plan on hosting several free workshops at a variety of shelters, high schools (after school programs) and similar organizations to gauge interest and are looking to expand outreach that way as well!
Was jewelry making something planned or did it happen organically after you starting working with your network of youth?
I have always loved making jewelry and I had dreamed of turning that into a business. But I didn’t want to just have a jewelry line – it was very important to me that whatever I did was socially conscious and helped make the world a better place. So I identified a group that could use a helping hand (at-risk youth) and married the two which is how Kind Karma Co. was born.
Tell us a little about what your network of youth are working towards and how Kind Karma Co. is helping them reach their goals.
We didn’t want to limit goals simply because we understand that everyone is in a different situation and may have certain needs that they prioritize over others. Someone who has no place to call home would obviously find housing of more importance than someone who does have a home (whether it’s a foster family or not) and is looking to pursue an education to launch a career that will help them be self-sufficient. So we really keep the range of goals open and they vary from funding post secondary education and earning a degree to obtaining permanent housing to taking courses to develop skills towards a desired career path.
What inspires the designs of Kind Karma Co. jewelry?
I love looking for individual pieces that I find unique and then creating around that. I also like simplicity in design because it helps our youth make the jewelry. Many may never have made a necklace before so it is important that our designs are something that isn’t overly complicated so they don’t feel discouraged in a process that is supposed to be empowering. I also love simplicity because I like pieces that I can wear everyday and are versatile!
As a brand new social enterprise in Toronto, what has been your greatest challenge?
I think the greatest challenge is having the courage to get started and also overcoming your own self-doubt.
When something is brand new and you are working to create a new social enterprise on your own, there are days where you may question your idea and whether people will support it and you may feel like remaining in the safety of not being vulnerable and sharing that idea with others. So for me, it’s the putting yourself out there and getting the reaction that was probably a big personal challenge.
Do your network of youth have to space to work out of?
Not as of yet but my goal is to create a space where our youth can come together and just have a good time. I want to create a space where they can get away from the stresses of their life for a little while and I also want that space to become a small support system between youth in similar situations. They can talk to each other and help each other out because that’s what I find helps you through situations that you may find stressful – it is a huge help to just know that you have support and people you can count on to listen and talk to. I want to make it a cool space with snacks, food, games – a fun space for teens and youth.
What’s the plan for getting Kind Karma Co. out there in the North American market?
We have a lot of trade shows lined up for the summer so hopefully we can connect with more individuals through those. We are also going to be popping up in several stores and hope that will create awareness of our mission. And as always, we are on Instagram and Facebook so follow us (Kind Karma Co on Facebook and @kindkarmaco on Instagram)!