The Unquenchable Ember of the Human Spirit

Today we at Acholi Beads are launching a new vision, and we are rebranding our entire company to match it. We call it Ember Arts.

Ember is the new face of our company, the new name by which we call ourselves. It is founded on something we learned from the Ugandan women we partner with.

Every human being is born bright with a natural flame of creativity and exuberance, the flame that inspires children in their ceaseless joyful exploration of the world. But as the years pass, some fires dim. Heartbreaks, failures and injustices douse our dreams and quench our wonder.

For our Ugandan partners it was worse. Their lives were battered by civil war, they lost loved ones to violence and hunger, and they struggled through years of hard labor trying to feed their families.  After too long without the resources to pursue their goals and dreams, people stop hoping.


This is the great tragedy of poverty, that eventually even the flame of hope dies.

But that was not the end of their story. Through our partnership together they found new opportunity, and soon they began pursuing goals and dreams that had been unimaginable only months before – sending kids to university, building houses, creating new businesses.

All the flames of creativity and exuberance burst back to life.

Hope, we learned, is never gone. Even when it looks like those flames are snuffed out, there is an ember, a smoldering little seed of hope that can never be extinguished.

This is the unquenchable ember of the human spirit.  We exist to kindle it into flame.


Today is the beginning of a new vision of elegance and impact, a synthesis of market and morals that will change attitudes in America and lives in Uganda, and eventually around the world. We are developing the most marketable products ever to come out of impoverished communities so that soon those communities will overthrow poverty.

We are so very grateful to all who support us. We certainly can not do it without you.

Let’s make flames.

Wonderful People, Amazing Places

Each transaction with Acholi Beads is part of the greater story of this business.  We just returned from a trip up the coast to meet some of the faces behind those transactions and see the newest stores to carry our jewelry.  Wonderful people, amazing places.  Enjoy the visuals.

Steven Alan, Venice


Nina at Fred Segal, Santa Monica


Slow Clothing, Melrose


Aesthetyx, Huntington Beach


Huntington Beach Surf


Sasha, Laguna Beach


“Story Market” this Weekend in Huntington Beach

James will be in Huntington Beach this weekend, sharing the Acholi Beads story as part of the inaugural Aesthetyx Story Market, an event designed to share the beautiful stories behind the artisanal and global products carried in the Aesthetyx store.  And if you mention that you’re with Acholi Beads, Aesthetyx has offered $10 off of any purchase of $50 or more during the event (remember that Mother’s Day is only a couple weeks away!)

The event is Saturday, 4pm to 8pm, and Sunday 10am to 2pm.

Aesthetyx located in the lobby of the beautiful Hyatt Regency, Huntington Beach – address and map here.  They are one of our favorite retailers, carrying a curated selection of handmade goods from around the world.  We hope to see you there!



27 Events for 27 Women, Seattle

Meet the Acholi Beads Women

My good friend Karl Drechsler spent the last two months in Uganda with me, sourcing materials, organizing retreats, and becoming great friends with the women of Acholi Beads.  He was so inspired by their work to improve their lives that he made a commitment himself.  Having returned to his native Seattle he is planning 27 events to celebrate the 27 women who make Acholi Beads jewelry.

Each event will feature a different bead maker, and all of them will support the wonderful work of Karl’s new friends in Uganda.  And if all goes according to plan, Karl will be back in Uganda this summer for grad school, and to make some more funny faces.

If you’d like to contact Karl about attending or hosting events, email him at