Shompole Collection is a collection of jewelry, house ware and tribal art created by Liz Gilbert and her workshop of talented tribal Maasai women. Each piece of exquisitely crafted art evokes mystery and inspiration, and starts with a safari on the streets where Liz seeks out gold, beads, glass, and witchdoctor's items to create her designs.
Liz first travelled to Kenya as a photojournalist, covering Somalia and Rwanda for global news agencies. It was during this time that she became intrigued by the colourful traditions of the Maasai and ended up living and travelling with the tribe, a safari which is recorded in her book, Broken Spears. This time taught her how to mould herself into the landscape of Africa and become an extension of the natural world, as well as opening her eyes to the disappearing artisan traditions.
Shompole Collection was borne of these passions, and is another way of raising awareness of conflict and suffering in Africa whilst creating a commercial opportunity for poverty alleviation. The collection is made in close collaboration with Shompole Lodge, part of The Safari & Conservation Company, and one of Kenya's leading eco lodges.
Liz starts each piece of jewellery with an adventure. Her extensive contacts with traders who come in from the bush to the hustle and bustle of Nairobi mean that she has access to incredible treasures from the interior. She brings those pieces back to her multi-cultural team of African craftspeople where luxury gold jewellery is created with a tribal twist using bone, chunks of amber, beads, cow horn or camel bone, shell and even talismans from a witchdoctor's coat to recreate their traditional arts using 18 carat gold. The true soul of the art lies in the characters behind the design.
The idea behind Shompole Collection is to emphasise commercial opportunity rather than charity, with a goal of self-sufficiency and long term benefit putting people in control of their own destiny. The business does make donations every year - supporting Bent on Learning, the African Rainforest Conservancy, Women of the Congo and Shine on Sierra Leone every year through donations at charity auctions.
Shompole Collection indirectly supports the lives and educations of approximately 120 people. So whilst the jewellery itself is the tangible result, education and a better livelihood are the overall result.