How the Christmas Ornament all began

October 01, 2020

How the Christmas Ornament all began

It was late in 2013 when I remember struggling to figure out a way to generate income to support the ever-growing numbers of orphaned or abandoned babies who were being placed at Project Canaan through the Social Welfare department of Eswatini.  In addition to that need, unemployment was raging through the country leaving most of the people in our community unemployed, especially young people.

That was what prompted the idea of making a special ornament that could be sold in the US and Canada to help create employment and generate income.

In 2013 I tried an experiment in social media sales.  I worked with one of the guys who worked on our farm to make a beautiful angel ornament. I took a photo of it and posted it on Facebook, inviting friends to order five or more ornaments for $10 US each, with the promise that they would be produced and delivered before Christmas. I was in the US at the time, and Ian saw my post, and then read the responses to the post. Within a day I had orders for 500+ ornaments!  Ian, being production minded (and me being design and sales oriented), called me to ask how on earth I was going to have those produced in time!?  I reminded him that where there is a will, there is a way, and then asked him to sort out the production details 😂.

That Christmas we produced and sold 1,300 angels at $10, generating a significant contribution to the care of so many children. We were also able to hire a few young people to train in the art of bead-craft and taught them how to take simple glass beads and wire and make them into something beautiful. Each year since then we have added a new collectible ornament to our collection, also adding employees to the team, who could then feed their own families.

Over the years we have produced more than 100,000 Christmas tree ornaments that are decorating Christmas trees all over the world.  In fact, in 2019 Khutsala Artisans was responsible for providing 30% of the total operating costs for Project Canaan through the sales of our bead work and woodcraft, directly supporting our children.

Yesterday was a big day for us because we revealed the Christmas ornament for 2020, the Poinsettia, which is our most beautiful ornament to date. It is a classic symbol of the Christmas season, and we are offering it in the traditional red color, but also in gold and silver for those people who might like the entire collection, or for those people who only decorate with silver or gold!

I need to be honest here. These ornaments were a real struggle to produce because of the Covid-19 pandemic that has engulfed the world. The government of Eswatini locked down the entire country in March 2020 and that lock down has been extended until December 2020(!).  This has been debilitating for our workers as the pandemic caused our largest customer in the US to close down, and with all international borders closed to visitors, thereby eliminating ALL sales here in Eswatini.

After having to send ALL our Khutsala Artisan workers home for several months, we were able to navigate a way to safely bring a small handful of our Artisans back to the shop, socially distanced with full mask and hand sanitizer at every work station, to produce a limited quantity of these beautiful poinsettias. Of all of our employees, we have not had a single confirmed case of Covid-19, and we give thanks for that.

Each poinsettia ornament takes 1,670 glass beads, 19 feet of wire and take two full hours of hand work.  Can you imagine that?? We can, and we would like to be able to bring more artisans back to produce more ornaments if we sell out quickly (yes, I know, I have grandiose dreams!).

Now we need you to buy these beautiful poinsettias, spread the word to ALL your friends and family, and also shop the other ornaments, Christmas décor and gift items that we have available.

When you purchase anything from Khutsala Artisans you are helping us employ Swazi’s, feed their families and 100% of the profit goes directly to provide food, clothing and care for 270+ orphans and abandoned babies who call Project Canaan home.

Thank you for shopping today, and for showing our Khutsala Artisans that there is still hope for their future.

Sending love from Eswatini today.

Janine




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