At Cura, we are intentional about both our global and local impact. We identify and partner with local women artists, entreprenuers, and emerging brands. And we've had the honor of supporting several in their earliest stages, in some cases even before they launch. We know how powerful it is to have just one person encourage you to go after your dream and we're proud to be the first retail partners for Two Cranes Botanicals, Peak and Valley Wellness, Cedar and Sand Swim, OrphenTen Pottery and Kimber Elements (all female founded Seattle based brands).
I remember very clearly the day Kimber Leblicq walked into Cura, she'd recently returned to Seattle from Kenya and was looking for retail partners for her new venture. It was clear how deeply she felt called to this work. Since then she and her Kenyan business partners have created a beautifully, intentional jewelry brand that we are eager to share with you.
Kimber, EXCITED to dig in here. You've been a sculptor and designer for a long time. Tell us about your motivation for recently rebranding kimber elements with a focus on traditional craft, indigenous women, and wildlife conservation.
In 2019 I visited Kenya to understand the complexities of human-wildlife conflict and to observe how Kenya is at the forefront of implementing interconnected solutions. The most important lesson I learned is that it’s critical for people to support conservation and for conservation to support people. During my travels I met an indigenous community who expressed their desire to create a market-driven solution to generate social and environmental change. They invited me to collaborate with them to create an artisan group with 30 Maasai women. Ultimately, it inspired me to rebrand kimber elements to be a female-forward social enterprise. Together we’re combining our love of women, design, and wildlife to create jewelry that drives meaningful change in the world!
What inspires your design?
I love working in metal and my personal designs are inspired by nature, textures, and simple geometric patterns. The Maasai designers are teaching me about their traditional ornamental beadwork inspired by storytelling for the purpose of beautification. Our designs evolve out of an ongoing dialogue and a melding of our strengths. In the fashion industry, there’s a fine line of cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, which can often lead to the dominant culture borrowing and exploiting the marginalized culture. I’m sensitive to this risk, and committed to upholding the dignity of our artisans by celebrating their cultural techniques and traditions, preserving their craft, and sharing their stories.
What has been most challenging about your recent work? Most rewarding?
They are one and the same. Partnering with an indigenous community in the global south has many challenges; speaking different languages; limited access to materials, technology, and transportation; overcoming power dynamics and cultural differences; and being so far away from each other. I’m impressed with how we’ve embraced these challenges and have collectively learned to overcome them. I’m proud of the trust we’ve built over the past year. We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time, but it’s an iterative process. We still have a lot to learn from one another.
How is spirituality, impact, and/or activism important to your creative purpose?
Having an impact in an unequal world takes listening and observation. As a humble guest, I’m committed to ethical storytelling when working with marginalized communities in order to ensure that my good intentions as a changemaker aren’t misguided. As a white woman, I’m devoted to leading from behind and I’m constantly learning and unlearning about my privilege and unearned power. I believe that now more than ever is the time to support marginalized communities to thrive, celebrate traditional craft and culture, and protect all species on this precious planet.
What's on your playlist right now?
Wajatta, a musical odd couple that shouldn't work but does. The duo is composed of Reggie Watts, a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants improviser, and John Tejada, a meticulous electronic composer. Both albums, Casual High Technology and Don’t Let Get You Down are in constant rotation. I love how it’s a melding of their musical strengths and how they complement each other. To me, the layers sound like elephants rumbling, singing, and communicating with each other across the savanna.
If your memoir were five chapters, what would be the title of each chapter?
I love this question since I’ve already written my memoir!
Chapter 1: Erased from my memory
Chapter 2: A rebel without a clue
Chapter 3: Finding my talent and my voice
Chapter 4: Becoming myself
Chapter 5: Here and now
You've already written your memoir, well we want a copy!
***Shop our assortment of kimber elements at the button below.