How Polymer Clay Earrings Made in New Zealand Are Funding A Students Education In Indonesia

Arias Design Co has always been about using our handmade jewellery for good.

If you've been following along since the early days, you'll know of our annual Kaleydo Fundrasier collection. A beachy, boho collection of handmade polymer clay earrings that all began with a chance encounter in the breathtaking island of Gili Trawangan, Indonesia around six years ago. This collection tells a story of young man, who's passion for learning and love for his newborn daughter led to a an initiative to empower education from thousands of miles away.

Life is a funny old thing at the best of times, and sometimes those chance encounters can turn into something much more. Arias Design Co didn't exist when we first met our friend in Indonesia, and our reason for staying in contact with each other was a simple one. Jay had been working at a hotel on the tourist island of Gili T. In doing so Jay was hoping to learn as much of the English language as possible from the international tourists travelling through, and dreamed of a career teaching English.

We ended up extending our stay a little bit longer and quickly became good friends with Jay, enjoying our chats throughout the day and happily answering any questions he had about learning English. As all trips do, ours came to an end, but we decided to stay in touch via Facebook and for the next few years chatted online, keeping each other up to date with our lives. At the time I lived in the UK, and it was a genuine joy watching from the other side of the world as Jay eventually married his partner, and even more exciting to learn he was expecting the arrival of their first child. All the while, he was determined to become fluent in English, hoping to move into his dream career and support his new family.

In 2020, Covid hit, and places like Gili T that relied on international tourism for their livelihoods suffered immediately and greatly. Jay welcomed their beautiful new baby girl, but at the same time he had lost his job. With no income and no idea when borders would open for tourism to resume, times were incredibly tough.

At this time, Arias Design Co had just opened it's online doors and sales were slowly increasing here in New Zealand despite the lockdowns. We felt lucky to be in a position to help, and were able to utilise that privilege to send Jay and his family small sums of money here and there. Some of the first pieces of handmade jewellery that our customers bought were able to help him buy food and medicine for his newborn daughter - something that I will always be incredibly grateful for.

One day as I sat in my living room on day whatever of lockdown, I saw a message pop up from Jay. Unable to work while waiting for the borders to open, he had an idea - maybe he could use this time to study. A few hours later, we'd found a school close enough to his village that was accepting new enrollments for the next term. The annual fees worked out at around $1000 NZD - not an amount Arias Design Co had readily available in its early stages, but definitely an amount that was within reach. With a plan taking shape, Jay started to fill out the enrollment paperwork and I started to sketch up some ocean inspired polymer clay earrings for our first ever Kaleydo collection, named after the hotel complex where we'd first crossed paths all those years ago.

Three years later and with your support, our collection of New Zealand handmade jewellery has meant that Jay has been able to continue his studies without having to worry about the tuition fees each term! The earrings you buy from the Kaleydo collection are way more than just pieces of unique, handmade jewellery - they are a testament to the power of community, connection and determination. 

We donate 100% of sales from every pair of Kaleydo earrings, with the aim of raising just $1000 NZD each year to cover the cost of the annual tuition fees. Whether you're buying a pair of earrings as a treat for yourself, or you're gifting the jewellery to someone you love, you're directly contributing to uplifting and empowering Jay's education journey. You'll wear a piece of this story for years to come, knowing that you're making a real, meaningful difference in the lives of a real family thousands of miles away. Your choice to buy a pair of earrings is so much more than just a purchase, it's helping to turn what was once only a dream into reality. It's a gentle reminder that beauty and purpose can co-exist, as long as we nurture the opportunities for it to do so.

Life is full of these funny little twists and turns. These polymer clay earrings - handmade in New Zealand but changing a life's trajectory in Indonesia - are a nod to the power of human connection, and what it can do. When you shop from the Kaleydo Collection, you're not just adding beauty to your jewellery collection, you're adding purpose to your actions.

Without your support, we wouldn't be able to do this. So a huge, huge thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining us as we try and make a difference!

Shop the Kaleydo Collection here

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