When Shanley Knox a twenty-two year old native of Auburn, California returned home after spending some time in Uganda’s Luwero district, she knew she had to do something more than just write a guilt-appeasing check out to a charity. She wanted to MAKE a real difference. She wanted to create a long, lasting effect in the lives of the people she had met, for the people whose lives had touched her so deeply. Thus began the Nakate Project, where fashion meets a great cause.
It was Kakooge, the poorest of the villages, that affected Knox the strongest. AIDS had devastated the physical and economic health of this now impoverished town, with the residents literally struggling for survival. One child in particular moved this recent college graduate into action: a 7-year-old girl named Cossy Nakate. Young Cossy, orphaned by AIDS, who also suffered from the disease, was being raised by her aunt who was supporting them as best she could by means that were not so great. Knox, moved by Cossy’s cheerful and undiminished spirit created the Namaste Project to help Cossy, and girls like her get their own chance of a brighter future.
Knox’s goal for the Nakate Project is sustainability. Its mission includes economic sustainability for the villagers of Kokooge, and ecological sustainability for the company. Nakate uses recycled materials for packaging and shipping, and eco-friendly practices when possible. Even the jewelry manufactured by the Kokooge women are made from beads made out of recycled paper. The women working with the Nakate Project make the jewelry in their huts, using a paper cutter to cut long, thin strips of colored paper. Afterward, they wrap it around a needle, glue it together and cover it with a finish. The beads are then set out in the hot African sun to dry overnight. Working in collaboration with jewelry designers in the United States, additional items like glass beads and feathers, and other renewable resources are often incorporated into the designs. The result: ethically produced fashion statements that are unique and immensely wearable.
Nakate Project has been used in styling high fashion photo-shoots as well as featured in several
West Coast fashion shows. Knox is set to prove that fashion can have a conscience without any
cost to style, and she is grateful for the support those in the fashion community have shown
to this project. Knox understands the value of community involvement. She sums it up in the
company’s byline: Where will YOU take Africa today?
According to Knox, The Nakate Project is fashion meets philanthropy. By purchasing Nakate,
she believes, the wearer is actively helping create a thriving community, AND gets to look good
doing so. The jewelry is available online at their website, and through various boutiques and
shops on the West Coast. The jewelry is also available for sale through hosted house parties- this
option is available internationally, with recent house parties taking place as varied as Ireland,
Chile, Spain, and California. Check out the Nakate Project’s website for details on how YOU can
Here are 4 great pieces selected from the Nakate Project Line:
The Erina Toggle Necklace: Designed by the women of Kokooge, this mid-length necklace is
made of alternating colored paper beads and metallic colored glass beads. Topped with a large
beaded toggle pendant.
The Nakate Spiral Bracelet: This adjusting spiral wire bracelet is made from brightly colored
strung paper beading and is perfect for stacking.
The Kakooge Necklace : The long strand of this unique multi-shaped and multi-colored beads
lends itself to various styling, including multiple wrapping, and layering and is offered seasonally
in special limited edition colors.
Beaded Feathered Earrings: Designed in collaboration with a local Northern California designer,
these charming earrings “fly” out of the store.
Sugar Shack Boutiques
2425 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95816
(916) 447 4435
Hours: Mon 11am-6pm, Tues-Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 12pm-5pm