Friday, 14 March 2014

I have to do something about it!

Well ladies, something has just occurred to me and I have to do something about it! I am just wondering if anyone else has the same issue.  It's my jewellery storage/display (or lack there of) techniques, ha ha. Most jewellery is stored away in lovely boxes. I am definitely beginning to think that "out of sight, out of mind" also applies to my jewellery.  I know that I probably only wear about 5-10% of my jewellery when there is no eye candy to get my creative juices flowing ;) Does this sound familiar?

So my mission is to have my jewellery beautifully displayed (using LITTLE or NO MONEY) in our bedroom using not very much space :). You see, I love jewellery because whether I am having a good day or bad day, jewellery is there to brighten me up! If I am having a thin day or podgy day, jewellery fits me regardless :) 

MY STEP A- Go through jewellery and see what can go to charity! Join me again soon and see how I am getting on! Maybe you could join me and send some photos of how you store your jewellery!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

There’s a saying that mighty oaks from little acorns grow. Some of the highest altitude oaks in the world grow in Nepal, which is where Danusha began in 2008.

I remember the first time I stepped into the workshop at Lalgadh Leprosy Services centre. It was an incredibly moving experience as I watched women whose fingers had been lost to nerve damage manipulate stones and thread to make objects of beauty.

As well as training in jewellery making we provide adult literacy lessons, decent wages, good food, basic health and hygiene education and we’ve sponsored compost toilets too - very important in the fight against pollution of drinking water. Childhood diarrhoea is one of the main causes of death in children under the age of 5, simply because people don’t have access to clean water.

I’ve always been concerned about issues like poverty, equality and human rights, and think it’s important for us all to do what we can to make the world a better place for everyone. Along the way I’ve been inspired by ordinary people who work to get the job done. You won’t read about them in books but many of my friends work really hard for the benefit of other people.

My Danusha experience has been life changing for me. I think far more carefully about what I buy and opt for fair trade whenever possible. I spend a fair amount of time in south east Asia and have seen first hand some terrible working conditions.

Take a moment to look around. What can you see? If you’re reading this I guess there’s a computer, phone or tablet not too far away. Imagine all the people involved in making it. It’s impossible to know just how many pairs of hands it’s been through on its journey to your home, but it’s a fair bet there’s been some exploitation along the way. I’m not saying ‘don’t have stuff’, simply that we should all do what we can to redress the balance from time to time, and buying fair trade is a good first step.

At Danusha, highlights have been working direct with the women to develop new designs, and watching them blossom as they gain in confidence. In their society any association with leprosy is a one way ticket to ostracisation so it’s fantastic to see them regaining the respect of their families and being accepted back into their communities. This is what skills training does. It gives people back their dignity and I love it! I also love the light and life and colour of Nepal. Being there is like fire for the soul. 

You can find and find a wide range of Danusha pieces of jewellery at both and

From Alli of Danusha,

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Time to fall in love!

Lovebirds Necklace - £24.50
February is a month of love! A time to show your loved one, just how much you care. We want to show you how you can surprise your loved one with beautiful handmade jewellery whilst helping other women create a more positive future for themselves and their families in different communities throughout the world.

We are very excited to introduce to you our new ranges of jewellery just recently in, just in time for Valentine's Day! We have fallen in love! We also wanted to let you know the positive effect you can have by buying our jewellery! Our April Showers Collection from Just Trade is made by the wonderful ladies at the Flowering Desert project in a rural community in Tamil Nadu, Southern India.

Heart earrings - £7.50

There are currently 18 ladies working there. The training and fairly paid employment opportunities at the Flowering Desert offer a way for the women to increase their skills and future work possibilities. Often bringing them a status in their society for the first time. 

Since the initial jewellery training programme in 2010 an additional 10 people have been trained in jewellery skills to keep up with the orders.

We hope you like the pieces you have seen here, you can purchase these and other jewellery at both and We can have it posted to you before Valentine's, perfectly and personally wrapped (included in price).

Sending you love and wishing you a wonderful February!


Saturday, 11 January 2014

Life long lessons learnt in 2013 (warts and all)!

A little late, I know but Happy New Year everyone!  I wanted to wish you a very happy, healthy 2014 and also to share with you what I learnt in 2013 (warts and all) and how those lessons will stay with me forever!

I guess the one thing that made the biggest impact was the passing of my mum late August last year.  When her cancer came back with a bang in April last year, I felt so dizzy and shaken up but little did I know that a few months later mum would no longer be here to laugh or smile with and talk to. I couldn't imagine that my life could continue. What made it worse was my father-in-law passed away two months before my mum did. However, this is where I slowly smile, I have been taught how precious every day is and how utterly precious my family is. I remember how positive my mum was through everything she got thrown at her, how she took each day as it came and how her sense of humour always lightened the conversation. I have been shown how strong I am when I didn't think my life could continue without my mum in it. Maybe some of you know how this feels.

Through our difficult times in 2013, I have connected with many lovely ladies (and some guys) online who are so supportive of Con-fused Arts and even more lovely, they are people who know what it is like to be a working mum running your own business and all that comes with it. In particular, Charlie from Sophia's Choice who offer a fabulous range of natural and organic products for the whole family, Sharon from Miss Beau Bangles who sells a great range of ethical, eco-chic fashion accessories and Andrea from O So Beautiful  who sells gorgeous good quality beauty products from Oriflame (all the way from Sweden) and Kendall from Kindness by Design who is constantly inspiring me with new ethical clothing/designers and much more. Thank you ladies for your conversations, support and encouragement!

So having left 2013 behind, I look back with very fond memories of my mum when she was well and her normal independent self but not so fond memories of the months before she passed. However, I am more determined than ever to look forward and make the most of everyday I am blessed with and I am more passionate than ever about empowering women around the world. 2014 promises to be a flourishing year, a year of new gorgeous ethical jewellery and perhaps branching out in other areas. A year of blogs, guest blogs, teaming up with other ethical businesses and most importantly FUN!

With all that 2013 taught me, I am ready to embrace 2014 with less worry, more determination, more focus, more patience and more love! What has 2013 taught you?

Pam x

Friday, 29 November 2013

A wonderful rewarding Christmas!

Hello, my name is Sharon and I write the Miss Beau Bangles ethical fashion and lifestyle blog. I was recently asked by Pam to write a blog post for her Con-fused Arts website on why it’s important to buy fair trade or ethical Christmas gifts. I jumped at the chance. I have followed Pam’s work for a while now and the work of the Kazuri women whose stunning jewellery she sells for even longer, and I admire both greatly. So it is an honour to be asked to express my humble views on Pam’s website and I hope I do the opportunity justice.
If you are a follower of Con-fused Arts’ work then you are probably well versed in what fair trade is all about, so rather than a descriptive article on the benefits of fair trade, I’ve decided to make this a personal piece that explains my own motivations to take a more ethical approach to my Christmas shopping. For me, there are three reasons why I will be shopping as ethically as possible this year:

Fairer Distribution of Wealth:
For me, the single most important reason for shopping more ethically this Christmas is an economic one. I want to see a fairer distribution of wealth in the retail industry.
The Centre for Retail Research reported that Christmas spending among consumers in the UK was  an estimated £70 billion in 2012. This includes money spent in shops and online. £3 billion of that figure was spent on Boxing day alone.
Wow! That is a lot of money for one tiny little island to spend on one celebration. The vast majority of this money is spent in a relatively small number of large multi-national retailers, whose profits are paid out to shareholders. We shop there because it is easy. These retailers have lots of money to put on amazing TV adverts to show us what they sell and to entice us into their readily accessible and beautifully decorated stores to buy their products. And at this time of year, we could all do with making our lives easy, right!
Yet there are many small businesses in your local area, and in developing countries all over the world who make and sell amazing products, but as a small business they struggle every day to compete in a fierce marketplace. They don’t have large marketing budgets and many can’t afford a bricks and mortar store on a high street, and so they are not so accessible to us as consumers. To be found, they require a little effort from us in seeking them out.
But why should we seek them out? Well, as I already mentioned, there are some fabulous products out there, but I’ll come back to this point later. The other reason is that, without our support, these small business cannot survive, yet they are hugely important to the economies in which they exist. In developed countries they create a diversity in terms of the products available to us as consumers, they can often offer a much more personalised level of service to consumers, and they provide a more diverse range of employment opportunities for the communities in which they are located.
In developing countries, small businesses that operate with a fair trade ethos have an even more pronounced importance. These businesses are empowering their employees and helping them to move out of poverty, thereby improving the chances that they and their children will have access to improved health, education and quality of life. In developing countries these small, fair trade businesses can be a matter of life or death for some people. To me, that’s got to be something worth keeping, and if we want to keep them, they need our business.  

Supporting Businesses that Value Human Rights:
My second reason for shopping more ethically this Christmas is a human rights issue. For years we have been reading about poor working conditions in the factories that supply many of our largest retailers. However this year the issue has been brought into much sharper focus after over 1,000 people were killed when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Bangladesh. Many more lost their lives this year in numerous factory fires caused by unsafe working practices. And as BBC’s Panorama programme, “Dying for a Bargain” recently revealed, some factories operate a compulsory overtime policy that has people working as much as 18 hours per day.
When shopping on the High Street, it is hugely difficult as consumers to know whether or not we are buying from a store which uses factories that operate humanely and safely. For that reason, I have chosen to make an effort where possible to seek out retailers who I can be sure value the human rights of their employees and those in their supply chain at least as much as they value profits. Surely, in this day and age, with the vast wealth that exists, asking for employees to be treated humanely and not like slaves is not too much to ask. The businesses that understand this are the ones I want to spend my money with.  

Gifts that Reflect the Essence of Christmas:    
Thirdly, shopping more ethically is a great way to find gifts that are the true essence of Christmas. I mentioned earlier that small and fair trade businesses offer some fantastic products. Many of these products are not widely available and so have a special uniqueness. Many are handmade and so are truly individual. Many can be personalised, and many have a fabulous story to tell, such as that of the jewellery made by the Kazuri ladies.
One of the product stories I love, is of a group of Senegalese ladies who call themselves Groupement Takku Liggey. These ladies lead a hand to mouth existence, selling things like fish, rice, cold water and donuts at a local market to survive. A few years ago, with the support of a woman from Edinburgh they began making products such as shopper bags, tablecloths, and aprons using African print fabrics they bought locally. These products are now being sold in small quantities in various countries around the world, and with their first profits the ladies have bought two cows for the co-operative to rear and sell, bringing benefits and further income to be shared among the community. You can see one of the women pictured above with one of the cows. Isn’t that a wonderful smile!  
Now imagine the faces of your family and friends as you give them their ethical gift and they hear the story behind it, appreciate its uniqueness and admire the craftsmanship that has gone into it. By taking a little time to look beyond the major retailers this year, I’ve uncovered some wonderful products with some wonderful stories, and I’m sure you will to.

How to get Started
I hope after reading this blog post you are feeling at least a little inspired. If you are, then you may be wondering how to begin shopping more ethically this Christmas. If you are looking for jewellery, of course Con-fused Arts is a great place to start. Over at Miss Beau Bangles I have written a blog post that makes some suggestions for great ethical Christmas gifts, including a fair trade recipe book, bamboo socks, and a recycled tyre wallet from Traidcraft; jewellery from Con-fused Arts and Miss Beau Bangles; and an eco-soy candle from Robin & Rose. Why not try doing an internet search for “ethical gifts”, or if you know what you are looking for, try sticking the word ethical or fair trade at the start of your search term. You might also want to seek out some blogs that have an ethical focus, as these are a great source of advice and inspiration. Facebook has some fabulous businesses selling fair trade and handmade products so why not follow a few.
Whatever route you choose, I hope your friends and family love their ethical gifts, and I hope you all have a truly wonderful festive period.

Sharon x

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Do you know you have powerful gifts?

These days, so many people moan and complain about life but did you know that one of the most wonderful and powerful things we can do is to be thankful?  Would you like to enjoy your life more and make progress even in the midst of difficult situations? It all begins with giving thanks. Every morning, I say thank you for waking up, for a comfortable bed, for food in the house, the list goes on - it really does make a difference!

Many people can BE truly thankful for someone in their life but do they actually take the next step and tell them or show them they are thankful?

Encouraging others is one of the another great thing we can do in life.  Life can be difficult and most people have plenty of reasons to feel discouraged  but we have been given a tremendous gift - the ability to encourage and uplift other people and make them feel good about themselves.

This festive season, I challenge you to a person of action. When someone has blessed your life or you feel they need encouraged, take a few moments to send a card or call them on the phone.  Why?  Because those few minutes out of your schedule - that simple action - can completely transform their day!

Another great way to encourage or thank someone is to buy them a  gift. At Con-fused Arts, we have a great range of Fairtrade jewellery all lovingly handmade by the wonderful ladies at Kazuri, Kenya. When you give a gift of Kazuri jewellery, you are also giving a piece of Kenya - a gift of knowing that you are helping us empower disadvantaged women in Kenya! CLICK HERE for our website or HERE for our FaceBook page.

Why not share this to encourage and challenge your friends?