Emmanuel the Alchemist
Whats your name & age :
My name is Emmanuel Simat and I am 28 years of age.
Where do you come from:
I come from Kajiado County Kenya and from the Maasai tribe.
Tell us a bit about your work:
My work is making jewellery using recycled materials like brass, cow bones, cow horns
and wood, I also make leather belts and bangles using processed cow leather merged with Maasai beads.
You are very passionate about your work, what do you love about it:
I am very passionate about my job as I can say jewelry making is a skill I first learned from my mom who raised us.
She made beading belts and other Maasai attires, if I wanted a pair of shoes or a school uniform my mom would make me bead some belts which she would sell and buy me what I wanted, this taught me self reliance from a very early age.
I came to learn more about fine jewelry making and brass casting after working for a UK based jewelry company which had a base here in Kenya. I managed to meet very influential world designers and this encouraged me to go for a jewelry making course and made me a great jewelry maker. I love seeing beautiful pieces coming out of what is deemed to be trash and ugly and no longer usable. The glow on the peoples faces whenever they see the end product always gave me great satisfaction. I have group of eight boys who handle the brass casting and machine work and about 6 ladies who help me with the beadwork and assembling, I manage to give them a consistent and very fair wage, sustainability of my business is very important as my workers and I solely depend on this for our needs and financial support.
Whats the biggest struggle?
My biggest struggle is getting good markets that appreciates and gives value for our work, consistent clients whose orders can give us some sort of stable and dependable supply of work and finance, I also have challenges getting the right tools for fine jewelry making as most of this cannot be found in Kenya and the prices are a bit high. We tend to get held back from making far much better and classic jewelry due to lack of funds to explore better materials, designing costs and initial cost charges that’s paid before venturing into big craft fairs and sales.
Our aim is to support Emmanuel and his group to be able to explore for better material and better tools so we all can keep doing what we LOVE