Cousinly love and a mutual passion for positive change built Ways of Change into a jewelry brand that hires refugees living in camps and villages on the Thailand Burma border. These refugees use their inherited craftsmanship to create jewelry inspired by their traditions. I had the opportunity to speak via email with Lauren Baird, co-founder and creative director of Ways of Change, about the jewelry brand she and her cousin Cara Boccieri created and what we can expect from the duo.
Ways of Change has become one of my favorite accessories brands. Explain why you started the company.
Lauren: Ways of Change was more than inspired by it was directly asked for by people on the Thailand Burma border when co-founder Cara Boccieri was carrying out research in 2011. During interviews and conversations she was repeatedly hearing, “You know we are talented artisans, we have many skills, but we have no access to any market place.” So we created a global marketplace through our website and began working with the talented refugee artisans who already had the skills to make beautiful pieces of jewelry but tweaking them with a more modern design approach to reach a broader market and to create a truly unique collection.
I’m obsessed with the Kan Bo Choker! What inspired the creation of the piece?
L: That is one of my favorite pieces too! The coil rings that many Kayan women wear around their necks directly inspired the Kan Bo Choker and the pointed ends come from the kan tan bo. These wooden poles are have during the largest celebration in the Kayan culture and represent the sun at the peak and the moon in the middle, these elements are embodied in the hand crafted points at the end of the choker.
Who designs and manufactures your chic jewelry?
L: All of our designs are a collaboration between the artisans we work with and my inspirations and ideas as creative director. Each piece is 100% handmade using traditional techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.
What’s next for Ways of Change?
We are currently working on completing our second collection, which will add an element of vintage upcycled chains and will be launching soon. We are also in the beginning stages of our first big community development project, so stay tuned to learn more about what we are working on.
Oh, we will, Lauren!
Outfit: Top by Shaina Mote; reclaimed Levi’s jeans from Urban Outfitters; shoes by TOMS; glasses by DIFF; necklace by Ways of Change.
Photography by Alexanna Cox.