Store of the Week! Urban Girl Accessories in San Diego

If you live in San Diego, or plan to visit San Diego soon, or need an excuse to visit San Diego soon, then here it is: Urban Girl. A wonderfully stylish and creatively curated boutique right in the heart of world-famous Seaport Village. Check out this look pulling together our favorites from Urban Girl’s offerings for a perfect picnic outfit. Click thru to check out more of Urban Girl’s amazing finds!

Meet the Embterns (the ‘b’ is silent)

We are pumped to introduce to you our first ever summer intern class! These wonderful human beings have devoted their summer to helping us take Ember Arts to the next level. You can follow their journey at their brand new blog:



Laura Berry (bio by Joanna Oboza)
Laura Berry is a vegetable garden growing superstar in Haiti. Originally from Dallas, Texas, in her spare time she finds herself in Haiti, working to provide a sustainable food source for the impoverished people of Haiti by helping them grow vegetable gardens that are maintained through the compost of human solid and liquid waste. When not using her vegetable superpowers, she tries to live a normal life by going to Texas A&M working on a degree in Geography, Sociology, and Business. Trying to act like a normal college student as often as her non-normal but exciting life allows, she plays with her dog Bentley, watches a lot of hockey, crafts and sews, and enjoys spending time outdoors. If you happen to run into her somewhere in Dallas or Haiti, be sure to speak into her left ear because her right ear, unfortunately, will not pick up what you say. Hopefully one day when her life takes a more normal toll, she will be able to live on a sailboat (where she can read “Mountains Beyond Mountains”, a book that continues to change her life each time she reads it), help people tap into their creativity, and camp out at a Nascar Race. Although no super hero is ever able to live a normal life, Laura would never want to live a life other than hers because it allows her to continuously work on developing countries and projects. She has currently taken on a role as an intern at a company called Ember Arts where she hopes to learn about social entrepreneurship and its ability to truly empower women. As a child dreaming of being a weather girl, little did she know that she were to become a superhero with vegetable growing and waste composting super powers!


Joanna Oboza (bio by Sander Harth)
A unique Polish upbringing has catapulted Joanna Oboza into becoming the first Ember Intern who not only speaks a first language that is not English, but who can name over 50 different types of sausages. Despite being held back in Kindergarden for not knowing enough English, Joanna has overcome her language barrier and fear of eating the ends of bananas to establish herself as a fine young woman with a big heart and great aspirations. Besides being a psychology major at UCSD, she is involved with multiple well-known organizations, a few of which include Invisible Children and the Big Sister mentoring program. She has recently brought her passion for reading books and her dream to one day build a library in her own house to a more contemporary endeavor, tutoring refugees from Burma and Somalia in financial literacy. Joanna considers herself very fortunate to have the opportunity to intern at Ember this summer because she has a great passion for helping others in need, and by working at Ember she is going to experience how a business can both be profitable and play a major role in changing people’s lives for the better. While earthquakes are Joanna’s greatest fear, and the Ember office is located North Park (which is devastatingly close to the San Andreas Fault line), she has volunteered to risk her life in order to participate in what is most definitely going to be a life changing experience, not only for her, but for the 27 beautiful women in Uganda who work so hard to produce the Ember Arts jewelry we all adore.


Sander Harth (bio by Laura Berry)
Sander the Surfer Superhero is not only big in size but business savy. He had a natural knack for business and dreams of owning his own company. Sander’s business aspirations are not only aimed to help himself, but also to help others who are less fortunate. He has worked closely with an agricultural company, Guayaki, based out of Argentina and helped promote their projects at his school, University of San Diego.  After taking a trip to Argentina and living with the indigenous Ache Guayaki Indians, he knew socially conscious business was a direction to aim. This superhero has linguistic power and is trilingual: English, Norwegian, and Spanish. These powers come in handy when you travel like sander. He’s studied in Spain and Mexico and has traveled all over the world ranging from New Zealand, Africa, Panama, Paraguay, Europe, and his favorite Costa Rica. Originally from Encinitas, CA, Sander can not imagine living anywhere but the San Diego area. He’s finishing his last year at USD where he is studying Finance, Accounting, and Spanish. In his free time you can find him surfing, hiking, playing volleyball, cooking, going to concerts, exploring, kayaking, or watching sports. In the future, Sander hopes to have started a family and own his own business.


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.

Bringing Sunlight into the Night

Just happened across this invention over on Engadget (my personal favorite gadget blog).  It’s a solar powered lightbulb for use in the developing world.  Hang it outside during the day to charge, bring it inside at night to enjoy some daylight leftovers.  We’ve been to some Ugandan villages that would likely love this.  Apparently they’ll run about $6 when purchased in bulk – not bad for two years of light


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


Telling True Stories

This is great article about telling true stories in the ‘helping people’ field.  Read this excerpt, then click through for the rest:

It really is not going to matter whether we preach a sermon on eradicating poverty. It is going to matter that through our work we increased a community’s income by 20%. It is going to matter that we perfected a revenue-generating model that allows for the maintenance of the wells that we fund-raise for.  It is going to matter that through our work, 27 women were rescued and protected from the sex trade in the last month due to the donated amount. The marriage of what we do, how we do it, and why we do it, needs to be our focus and message.

Spring Babies, and a $500 Giveaway


This has already been a very special spring in Acholi Quarters.  In the past few weeks two of the women we partner with gave birth to beautiful new babies!  (One boy, one girl.)  In celebration of this season of birth and rebirth, we’re giving away five $100 Acholi Beads gifts to lucky customers of our online store!  Make any purchase between now and April 12 and you’ll be entered to win.  Click here to shop!

I was talking to one of the mothers yesterday, Aciro Grace, and she said that before she started working with Acholi Beads having a baby was a frightening experience – she couldn’t afford hospital care for her or her baby, and had little hope for a brighter future for her children.

But this time, her fourth delivery, she got medical support and was able to afford everything the new child needed.  Not only that, but she foresees a bright future for her newborn, full of education, good health, and success.  This is why we do what we do.  Thank you for your support.