Colombia Map

Kudos to Colombia

written by Alyson Collom

Have you been in Colombia?

A year ago today, I was boarding a plane to take me to the land of salsa dancing, coffee and beautiful beaches.  My first visit to Colombia would prove to be an incredible trip full of beautiful people, vast and raw coastlines and uniquely delicious food.  In honor of this anniversary, I would like to give you the top 5 reasons why Colombia should be on your list of places to go.

1. Coffee

Colombian Coffee FieldI am not a coffee drinker, but most lovers of the beverage know that some of the best coffee beans come from Colombia.  Due to the country’s mild climate, coffee beans grown here have a strong reputation for being some of the most flavorful and well rounded beans.  Currently, Colombia has over 500,000 farms dedicated to coffee bean growing.  Although climate change is starting to disrupt the coffee production, for now, it is still going strong.

2. Coastline Beaches

Colombian BeachWith its borders on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Colombia has some of the most beautifully raw coastlines.  Many sections are relatively unpopulated and provide a wildly serene experience coupled with tiny villages and connection with townsfolk.  Other beaches have become very popular and have resorts that people can stay on for a more luxurious
experience.  Either way you cut it, the beaches are definitel something not to be missed.

3. People

ColombiansThe Colombians I met throughout my entire trip, were easily some of the most kind-hearted, generous, happy people I have ever met.  On a walk in one of the tiny villages, a woman saw us and ran out to offer us all a cup of a recently brewed batch of Chicha (a fermented corn drink).  She was so delighted to be able to share her bounty with us.  Everywhere we went, we came across people like this.  I was floored by how happy people were, even in places where they had so little.


4. Food

Colombian FoodAmong my favorites were the corn arepas (flatbread) that I had for breakfast every morning, served with fresh cheese and sometimes avocado and eggs, the empanadas served everywhere in street carts and stuffed with meats and cheeses, the many fresh fish dishes, fried plantains, and all of the amazing fruit: fresh pineapple, guava, passionfruit, lulo (my favorite!), and mango.

5. Dancing

Salsa DancingColombians love to dance.  It’s born into them; a part of almost every social event and gathering.  Everyone seems so happy to be dancing and are delighted to teach you at whatever level you are.  I had taken salsa lessons a year or two before going, but I was very nervous to dance it with people in one of its country’s of origin.  But this was quickly dismissed as I realized that in Colombia, there are no excuses and no avoiding it: you WILL dance and you absolutely will have a good time.

So there you have it.  Five compelling reasons to visit the place that stole my heart, home to owner Monica Farbiarz and country that grows our Tagua.  I honestly never knew much about Colombia and it was not ever on any lists of places I wanted to go in my life, but once there, I was hooked and plan to return many times in my life.

Share with us your experiences of this lovely country!  Also, check out our Facebook page for information on sales and upcoming collections for Encanto Jewels!

Juliette wearing Kayuna Necklace

Creative Women Series – Juliette Phyllis Kunin

Creative Women Series by Encanto Jewels – Who is Juliette?

Meet Juliette Phyllis Kunin!  She teaches 5Rhythms Dance here in Nevada County and also co-owns a wonderful esoteric gift store in Sacramento called the Garden of Enchantment that has been a lighthouse in the Sacramento area for 28 years!

She teaches a bi-monthly 5Rhythms dance class that takes place some Friday nights in Nevada City and in Sacramento every other Thursday evening.  You can often also find her leading the Sunday Sweat Your Prayers locally or in Sacramento.

Juliette is full of passion, wisdom and dedication.  Her kindness and loving nature radiate from her and is felt profoundly.  We are deeply blessed to have her in this community!

1) What inspired you to start your own business (or work for the business that you do)?

I have always had an entrepreneurial nature, thriving on creative ways to earn a living. At my first real job at 17, I was the top salesperson in thirteen stores at a trendy clothing store and was offered my own store to manage before I turned 18! A few years later I started an art to wear clothing company airbrush-painting t-shirts, dresses, skirts, and more. I traveled to art fairs along the West coast and sold lots and lots of my clothing.  I worked for KVMR Radio for 12 years as Development Director during the early years, out in the community, connecting businesses to the radio station through sponsorships, underwriting, program guide participation, special events, etc. I also produced numerous events from full on food, drink and entertainment to auctions and concerts.

Fast forward to now, I am inspired to teach the 5Rhythms because this practice has had such a positive impact on my life and I want to give back and share with others what has been so powerful for me.

I own my own business at Garden of Enchantment because it has a beautiful mission and has supported me for many years. It serves as a place for people to come to be nourished amongst a dense environment in downtown Sacramento. I hear often, “This is my favorite store. “ or “I come here just to get a breath of fresh air.” It provides an opportunity for customers to bring beauty and harmony into their personal world or the world of someone they care about; they can buy a wonderful piece of jewelry, some music, healing scents, a Buddha or a book that can help them come to a deeper place in their lives.

4) How do you feel about the current standard model of business and how would you like to see it change?

I’m inspired to teach the 5Rhythms and I would love to generate a good income, but the reason I teach is not for the money. It’s because this practice has impacted me in such an amazing way, I feel it is time to give back to the community.  Through this practice I am learning how to live my life more and more as my authentic self and I do believe that it is from this place that we can fully express and manifest a life that is fulfilling spiritually, emotionally, and materialistically.  In other words, do what you love and the money will follow…

For me, the best way I know how to manifest something successfully is by following inspiration, taking one step at a time, listening for what’s next.  This is a different way of running a business than the standard model, but my best way to move forward.  My approach is not to set big goals and then work to achieve them. Rather, my path has been more about recognizing the next steps as they unfold in front of me and then taking that action as it presented itself.  It’s a more “allowing” way of doing things.

On an entrepreneurial path, there’s not the built in security of retirement like when you work for the state in a “secure” job. I was not cut out to work for someone else, however I wish I had more support from people knowledgeable in financial planning earlier in my career. If you do choose to follow the path of self-employment, I highly encourage you to do your research about retirement and plan for your own future early on.

5) How has being a woman shaped you, influenced you or colored your experience in business in our society?

Sometimes being a woman opens doors that may not be easily opened.  Sometimes it’s a man’s world and I do not feel respected as a successful businesswoman.  Because I am not in “big business” and I own my own small businesses, I feel minimally impacted by the problems that some women face such as lower wages for the same job, etc.  I have a more feminine way of doing business that is probably less aggressive.  It has worked just fine for me.

6) What do you currently dream about most?

Healing the war inside us first. All the war going on in the world is representative of the battle that rages within. I hope for us all to gain the tools and the desire to heal that. Once we have some resolution there, we can bring that healing into our relationships with others, focusing on the power of love and inclusiveness and that we really are all connected.  It’s all about resonance.

7) What does community mean to you and how do you envision contributing to ours?

Supporting each other through being available for physical, emotional, spiritual needs and having this as a priority instead of $$. I do believe that the $$ flows with the right mindset.

8) Name a woman from our community that you admire and why.

Maniko Dadigan*. An amazing being who guides people to find their true selves and connection with all.

*Editor’s note: Maniko Dadigan is a musician who, along with private sessions, performs live in concert and facilitates workshops on the Dimensions of Voice & Self-Expression, Creativity, Transformational & Ecstatic Singing, Songwriting, Mystic Practices and Meditation Retreats in the US, Australia, Europe and Asia.

9) What is one of your favorite establishments in our community and why?

Briar Patch. Connecting healthy living with community

Contact information:
Facebook: Juliette Phyllis Kunin
Facebook group: Moving Meditation Nevada County
Classes in Sacramento:
Other links in introduction at top!


Fair Trade - For the Planet - For the People

The Antidote to Black Friday: Fair Trade

I am sure that you know by now that Encanto Jewels is part of the Fair Trade movement. Well, the shopping season is upon us.  Let the amazing sales begin!

It’s usually about now when I start to feel the pressure of the Christmas list grow.  The questions of what to get people, how much money to spend, when do I have the time to do it, and so on become the center of my concentration.  I both love and hate shopping for Christmas.  I hate the sometimes obligatory feeling behind buying the presents, but I absolutely LOVE the feeling of finding something for someone that I just KNOW they are going to love.  Then the anticipation of giving it to them becomes so sweet.

Every year the Fair Trade Federation puts out a Holiday Gift Guide of Fair-Trade gifts for everyone on your list.  This year is awesome.  I’ve included it here for you to be able to “thumb” through (should it be considered “mousing through”?) and see for yourself.  You’ll find Encanto Jewels nestled among the goodies on page 4.

You can also check out the blog at Uncommon Goods where they have put together a few compilation gift guides for different categories of people.

All of these gifts have the same thing in common: they have been chosen because they are ethical products that are sustainable, create fair jobs for others and promote a world in which people and planet matter.


Still not convinced?  Here are 10 Reasons to Support Fair Trade:

1. Fair Trade means fair pay and working conditions for farmers and producers. Fair Trade products are made in safe and healthy working conditions, where farmers and producers receive a fair price and have a voice in how their workplace is run.

2. Fair Trade is better for the environment. Fair Trade supports sustainable practices that minimize our environmental footprint.

3. Fair Trade means high quality goods. Artisans take pride in their work. Crafts are often handmade, which translates into closer attention to detail and in the end higher-quality products.

4. Fair Trade means better tasting food. Farmers are involved and invested in the entire production process, and crops are grown and harvested in smaller quantities. As a result, Fair Trade food is fresher and tastier.

5. Fair Trade is safe. Fair Trade actively promotes integrated farm management systems that improve soil fertility and preserve valuable ecosystems, and limit the use of harmful agrochemicals that present dangers to farmers’ health. That means food that’s safer for you and for the people who grow it.


6. Fair Trade supports communities. By working through cooperative structures, Fair Trade artisans and small farmers are able to invest Fair Trade earnings in their communities, improving housing, healthcare, and schools.

7. Fair Trade is trade farmers can count on. Fair Trade is committed to strengthening direct partnerships between buyers and producers. These partnerships provide an avenue for buyers to purchase quality products from people they trust, and offer a sustainable and reliable way for farmers, artisans and their families to improve their livelihood.

8. Fair Trade connects you with other cultures. Fair Trade products are unique to the places they come from and the people who make them. Farmers and artisans are involved in the entire process, and Fair Trade products reflect the people and cultures they come from.

9. Fair Trade means sustainable local economies. Fair Trade gives farmers and artisans control of their own future. They can build their own businesses, rather than working for a middle man, and the profits stay in their communities and go back into their businesses.

10. Fair Trade means what you buy matters. By choosing Fair Trade products, you are not only accessing high quality products, you are making a difference in the lives of the people who grow the food you eat and the goods you use.


Thanks for reading…… will love to see your comments bellow.

                    ~ Alyson Collom ~

Creative Women Series - Encanto Jewels

A Sense of Belonging

Since its early beginnings, Encanto Jewels has wanted to create, connect with, and support its community; both local and abroad.  Because we have roots in both Northern California and Colombia, we are lucky enough to belong to two fabulous and very unique communities.  And we have continued to ask ourselves throughout the development of the company: how can we continue to contribute to these vibrant communities?

Colombia's rich beautyYuba River
Picture on left: Colombian countryside
Picture on right: Yuba River in Northern California

This question led us to the conception of the Creative Women Series of our blog.  If you have not yet been introduced to this project, allow me.  In our Northern California community, we are lucky enough to live amongst some pretty amazing women doing some very innovative things and/or inspiring others in some significant way.  It was this fact that inspired Encanto Jewels employee Carrie Smith to come up with the project.  The idea was to interview one of these women, photograph them wearing our jewelry and then post about them on our blog and across our social media platforms.  The goal was to mutually promote our businesses and to create meaningful connections in our town.  As someone who has lived here for most of her life and never really felt a part of the community, I was personally excited about this project because I felt like it would help me become more connected to this place.

The Creative Women Series has been underway for over a year and has succeeded in doing all the things we so hoped it would.  I am lucky enough to be able to participate in this project and meet so many of these fabulous and inspiring women and it has changed my life here in this small town.  To be able to connect with one’s community is to feel a sense of belonging, which is something we all yearn for.  These women have been nothing short of amazing, smart, creative and strong.  It is in getting to know these women that I am motivated in my own personal life to keep creating.

Sally Rachel Maxima Maisie & Willow Haven Elisa Dev Crystal Brenda WendyErin-Outside-InnShana

Having had the pleasure of helping owner Monica Farbiarz build Encanto Jewels, I have been inspired by how much she has accomplished with her business.  By staying true to herself and strong in her principles, she has been able to create a business that not only brings abundance to people here, but abundance to people in her home country of Colombia.  By bridging the gap between the two countries within her business, she has created an extended community of people working together.    It’s been one of my favorite parts about working with Encanto Jewels.  I not only got to work with my friends here, but I made beautiful friendships with our connections in Colombia.

Monica with Taqueria

I’ve learned that getting involved with my community is absolutely crucial to my well-being.  I love knowing who is living here and what they are up to.  I am constantly floored by the amazing talent we have here in Nevada County and I can’t wait to expand this project into our community in Colombia (we already got started by introducing you to Sally Station in Bogota, Colombia).

And for further reading, the website put up a list of 100 things you can do to contribute to your community.

  • Feel free to comment on how connecting with community has influenced your life!
  • Thank you!


~ by Alyson Collom ~

Passion Flower

How Color Can Become a Playful Exploration of Self Discovery

Written By Monica Farbiarz

Last week I posted a blog about how to wear Tagua in the Winter Season, and how the seasons and fashion trends influence our color pallets through the process of designing our Tagua jewelry. Today I want to share more about the colors and how they make a constant imprint in our daily life, and how the experience of choosing what color to wear becomes a playful exploration and self discovery.

As I write about this subject of color, a vivid memory comes to me: a glimpse of an image in the midst of an exuberantly wild nature.  I was in the middle of a river called Uva (grape, in Spanish) in the jungle on the Pacific coast of Colombia.  The river was brilliantly green like an emerald and I could see big pieces of flat stones like marble, shining under the surface of the water.  All around me was thick forest; a myriad of green tones, from the darkest to the brightest greens.  There were also the yellow and earth tones of the dry leaves, and the gray tints of the rocks.  And in the middle of this spectacular forest there was one vibrantly red iridescent flower, that seemed more like a red crown illuminating the magnificent scenery.

Passion FlowerThe stunning image of that flower stayed with me forever and it is because of that flower that I still remember so vividly the beauty of that landscape.

Kayuna Necklace Rainbow

Kayuna necklace in Rainbow combination

Recently somebody asked me what was my favorite color and my answer was: I am a rainbow woman (which brought a smile to the woman’s face).  I personally feel attracted to more than one color and it always depends on the day, the weather, how I am feeling, or what I would like to attract to my day. That is why I say I am a rainbow woman; not because I am always wearing a colorful or bright palette, but  rather that I like to keep myself open  to experience different colors. To be exposed to what a green, a red or a blue can tell me; how it feels to wear all grays in contrast to bright oranges. I also notice that I am more attracted to a certain color palette depending of the time of the year or on my mood.

When I started designing jewelry, I was working with more than 72 colors in the Tagua color palette; this expanded my experience of how to wear color. The jewelry became the accessory in how to give accent to an outfit, and that accent was mainly stated by the color hue – of course the shape also influences this accent, but it was the color that enhanced also the shape and how it all integrated to make a statement on a red, blue, black or natural outfit.


Naya Necklace in Aqua Combination
Photo taken by Waking Crow Studio

I remember how in my early twenties my preferred color was black. It made me feel more focused and direct, and somehow it simplified my wardrobe. But over the years, I began to incorporate more color.  What I liked about this experience was the playful exploration in waking up and thinking about what was I going to wear that day, and how I could combine the colors to create new outfits. At the same time it was interesting to see how a particular outfit could influence the way I feel, or even uplift me on a low energy day. It was through this experience that my sense for color developed and keeps expanding along with the practice of designing the Tagua jewelry.



My experience with color is very intuitive. To trust my inner voice and let it guide me in how I want to experience the day, and how I can make a choice that will enhance that experience.

ColumbiaEveryday I ask myself how I want to live this day? what is the color of my palette?
And you,  what is the color of your palette today?

  • I invite you to take a look to some of the colors you can find in our jewelry and be inspired!!!!

~ Monica ~



Fall colors

Seasons and the Color Trends

Wearing Tagua Jewelry in the winter/fall season

Written By Monica Farbiarz

Tagua jewelry is known for being fun, colorful, light, uplifting, gracious and versatile. It is so special in the way it absorbs color.  Through its vibrancy, it conveys the seasons of nature. We work with more than seventy colors in our pallet. When I design a necklace there are different elements that come together; the materials, the shapes, the colors and the way they relate to each other.

The colors of our palletteIn the process of designing a necklace, sometimes I feel like dancing, finding the movement in the piece, the rhythm.  Other times, when choosing the color combinations it feels like painting. I get inspired with the changes and cycles of nature, with the different tones that nature brings: hues and shades of green, the oranges and reds, the yellows and earth tones, the blues and the grays. Every time I think that I have done all that is possible, a new idea or a new color pallet arrives.  There are infinite possibilities.

When I make a color combination for a particular design I like to see it from the perspective of
painting a landscape, creating an atmosphere. There is a color for each season. In that manner a material that comes from the rain forest becomes an object that transcends time and becomes an accessory for all seasons.

The colors of winter

In the winter the light of the sky changes into an intense bright white, deep gray, or a sharp blue. Photo taken by Geraldine Puhara of Tender Treasures

Creating a product that targets the fashion industry, brings into consideration the fashion trends and the different seasons. The beginning of the year starts with the spring/summer season and then July starts the fall/winter season.

For that I have created a collection that carries different styles of necklaces, earrings and bracelets.  Each style has 3 or 5 color combinations at the most. I get inspired by each particular season and what it evokes in me. I see the tagua jewelry as an expression of light; it provides an opportunity to change the landscape of a person, by giving a touch of color.  It is similar to how a flower poses in the middle of a green field or when a red tulip moves gracefully with the wind, or a rose emerges in the middle of a green house, making the overall ambiance look brighter.
Here the Kayuna necklace and the Loop Earrings add accent over the Green tones and bring the reminiscence of the fall with a myriad of polychromatic tones.

Fall colors

Kayuna Forest Necklace and Avocado Loop Earrings. Photo taken by Geraldine Puhara of Tender Treasures

By contrast, in the background of the Brown outfit, the Kaleidoscope necklace, makes a statement of joy and charm, like the autumn leaves.

Earth Tones

Kaleidoscope Earth Tone Necklace. Photo taken by Geraldine Puhara of Tender Treasures

In the winter time nature seems to go inward and the trees become pale and the atmosphere becomes quiet.  People tend to go more into the introspective mode, looking for cozy reunions near the fire place, in cafes and restaurants, and at special cultural activities.

This is an opportunity to bring that accent of color and warmth to share with others.  And of course the classic tones add to the cozy atmosphere.

What is the color of your pallet today?
Check more of our color combinations at Encanto Jewels.

Colombia's rich beauty

What is Nature Good For?

written by Alyson Collom
ForestSleeping in the Forest
by Mary Oliver
I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

Yuba RiverIt’s no secret that spending time in nature does our bodies and psyches good.  Every time I spend part of my day near the river or in the forest or even just walking around my neighborhood I feel more clear headed, more relaxed, open and happier.  Spending too much time indoors makes me feel out of touch and more tense.  Recently I have been reading several books by author and Biomechanist Katy Bowman.  Katy Bowman is a huge proponent for outside time and she backs up her reasons with science.  Katy writes about how to attain better body health through more movement more often, as opposed to sitting for 8 hours and then working out at the gym for an hour.  She recommends several very interesting and somewhat radical ways to get your body moving more during the day.  A couple things that she has said in her books struck me as very interesting, as they were things I wasn’t aware of.  One was that being barefoot on the ground (called Earthing) has more health benefits than we may be aware of and the other is that Myopia (near-sightedness) is not necessarily caused by so much close viewing, but could be caused by a lack of long-distance viewing.  Because I found these revelations so interesting, I thought that I would share what I’ve learned about each – also because it is more evidence to the incredibly valuable healing power of Mother Nature.

This was a relatively new concept for me, although I had always loved the feeling of mud, sand and grass between my toes, but it basically states that there is a beneficial transfer of electrons to the body when in contact with the ground.  These benefits include better sleep and reduced pain.  Like most claims of this nature, there are always exaggerations and false claims, so I found an article from the Journal of Environmental and Public Health that was based around studies conducted to back these Earthing claims.  These studies all showed improvement across several different parameters when the participant slept on conducive mattress pads.  Participants reported a reduction in asthma symptoms, falling asleep more quickly and waking up less frequently, and according to the study, the mat “appears to positively affect morning fatigue levels, daytime energy, and nighttime pain levels.”  Now, all of this is about people sleeping on conductive mats, but its establishing that a beneficial relationship between ground and body does exist.

long distance viewLong-Distance Viewing
This finding was probably the biggest ah-ha moment I had because over the last few years, my eye-sight has profoundly declined and it has really bummed me out.  I loosely associated it with the increased time spent in front of the computer.  Then I read the section in Katy Bowman’s book Move Your DNA where she talks about growing up an avid book reader and needing glasses to correct her Myopia (near-sightedness).  She claims that it’s not necessarily the amount of time spent looking close up, but the lack of time spent looking far into the distance.  When we spend time outside, most of the time we are looking at many different distances at various times.  When we are indoors, the farthest we can look is rarely more than 20 feet away.  For the way our eyes function (for more science on that, click here) this is not considered long-distance viewing.  There is other evidence that suggests that the eyes exposure to UV light and the vitamin D from the sun also contributes to the health of the eye when outdoors.

There are so many other reasons why being in nature is good for us – a simple Google search brings up thousands of articles on this very subject – but really most of us don’t need much convincing to step foot outdoors.  For many, communing with nature is also spiritual.  It’s definitely the way I connect back to myself, to others and to the beauty around me. This is why it has always been so important to me to support people and businesses who are doing what they can to protect, preserve and cherish nature’s beauty.  Back in March, when I wrote about my experience in Colombia, one of the things I talked about was the intense, raw beauty there.  I felt more alive in Colombia than in most places I had been on this planet.  No doubt due to its rich environment and also to the fact that I spent most of my time outside.

Colombia's Rich Natural Beauty

It’s very encouraging to see so many people and businesses supporting the preservation of nature.  I just learned that REI provides grants to non profits who are working on preservation or restoration projects in the United States.  They donated $4.2 million in grants last year.  Patagonia donates 1% of their sales to preservation and restoration of the natural environment.    Not to mention the Eden Projects which I talked about a couple of blogs ago which is helping repopulate the forests of Madagascar with mangrove trees.  Working for a company that does what it can to be responsible for the environment has been a gift.  It’s so lovely to know that the Tagua we use at Encanto Jewels is grown and processed in the most sustainable way possible and that we are making as little impact as we can.  There is so much we can do to take care of our natural environment, which provides us with so much.

As I Walk With Beauty
As I walk, as I walk
The universe is walking with me
In beauty it walks before me
In beauty it walks behind me
In beauty it walks below me
In beauty it walks above me
Beauty is on every side
As I walk, I walk with Beauty.
Traditional Navajo Prayer

Benefit Corporation - Encanto Jewels

What’s the B Corp anyway?

written by Alyson Collom.

“We have a dream that one day companies will compete not only to be the best in the world, but to be the best FOR the world.”

From Wikipedia:

“In the United States, a benefit corporation is a type of for-profit corporate entity, authorized by 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia[1] that includes positive impact on society and the environment in addition to profit as its legally defined goals. Benefit corporations differ from traditional C corporations in purpose, accountability, and transparency, but not in taxation.”

The following video is only 2 minutes long and gives a little introduction into the B Corporation Community.

Started in July of 2006 by co-founders Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlihan and Andrea Kassoy, the B Corp’s aim was to make a difference in the corporate world by raising the level of responsibility each business took for people and planet and to create a certification that would hold them accountable.   They developed the B Impact Assessment which businesses use to qualify for the B Corp Certification.  Members of the B Lab guide each business through the lengthy and thorough process of becoming eligible for the certification.  There are currently more than 1000 companies in more than 30 countries certified and the number keeps growing.

Some of the more well-known B Corporations include:

B Corporations

On the B Corp website, you can search for B Corp businesses which comes in handy if you want to know where you can purchase different goods and services from people who you know are doing their part.

I first heard about the B Corp in 2011 from the son of the people who own the workshop we employ to make our Tagua jewelry.  I was very intrigued, but also intimidated by the process.  Plus I had no time.  When we hired another person to join us in the office in 2012, it freed me up to start investigating whether or not it was something that our company could attain.  As soon as I created an account to get started, I already had two or three emails from B Lab offering tips, information and a personal contact for help through the questions.  This person proved to be so helpful and was so supportive and kind.

A Brief Description of the Certification Process

The certification process looks into several different aspects of your business including how you contribute to the environment, your community, how you manage and pay employees and your policies and procedures.  Within each section you must prove certain claims you make in order to ensure that you deserve the certification.  Also within each section are helpful hints that they call “Best Practices” to give you an idea of what some other companies do to meet the standards.  It was an incredibly well laid out questionnaire.

Tagua-HandsThe certification process, though long and again, very thorough, was one of the best things I did while at Encanto Jewels.  It forced us to make sure we were consistently backing up what we said we were doing as a company.  It networked us with an amazing community of people.  It helped us get more clarity around our mission and who we are as a business.  And it made us proud to be contributing in a larger way to taking more responsibility for each other and for our planet.

Our mission from the start was always about making a difference.  Using the sustainably grown and processed Tagua as a source for our jewelry was one step.  Taking care of each other as employees was another.  Doing business in a different way and carving out our own path for Encanto Jewels has at times been so much more satisfying than just doing things in the “normal” way.  It’s been so helpful to be a part of a community who is doing the same.  I encourage you, if you are interested in this process, to reach out to someone at the B Lab and start taking little steps toward a brighter future.

Tagua Workshop Colombia

Alyson and Monica - Encanto Jewels

A Fond Farewell

Why I have decided to leave Encanto Jewels, written by me: Alyson Collom

Back at the beginning of the year, when I came back from Colombia, I wrote a blog that summed up my experience there and how it changed me and at the end I wrote this:

“This trip and the openness I was able to experience made me intensely grateful to life for showing me what happens when we stop listening to the voices that hold us back and start listening to that small-at-first voice and decide to say yes to what life presents us. I feel like I was able to encounter myself in such a new way there that left me fundamentally changed. I can’t even really fully know all the ways it has changed me, but this new life course I have embarked upon is fresh with newness and possibility and I will always be indebted to Colombia and to the incredibly generous, kind and hospitable people who participated in making this trip so special.”

creativity-picture-quoteMy determination after this trip was to maintain that sense of openness and possibility even in circumstances that don’t necessarily lend one to be pushed so intensely.  I find it so incredibly easy to become complacent and stagnant in life – to be carried away by ritual and routine that  the wilder sides get lost – and having just met my wilder side, I was not that enthusiastic about letting her go.
So I settled back into my life, making necessary adjustments in order to keep growing and nurturing all the different sides that make up who I am.  But now that I had said yes to that voice before, it now had more strength.  And this time when it started speaking to me (no I did not actually hear voices!) it was much louder than it had been when I had eard it the first time. It seems that once given power, it doesn’t give up easily.  So once that nagging voice started in my head again, I had to listen.

This time, it was telling me it was time to develop a new set of skills.  You see, after 5 years of working with Monica Farbiarz, one of the biggest dreamers I know, I had begun to spin and weave my own dreams.  Or maybe they had begun to spin and weave me?  At any rate, in a distant part of my mind, I could feel something formulating.  dream-bigSomething big.  And it scared me.  Like all of us, I have incredible barriers that have prevented me from taking big leaps in my life.  Barriers like fear of failing, fear of outshining others, fear of not being good enough, etc.  In the past, these fears paralyzed me and allowed me to stay in the security of my cocoon.  But for some reason, after that trip to Colombia, the fear of NOT living my dreams in some way had way outgrown all of the other fears.  So now, instead of acquiescing to the fears, I felt this new force inside of me shoving them aside (not getting rid of them, of course) in order to make room for Creativity to come through.

After sitting with all of this for a couple of months, it became clear to me that it was time for me to leave Encanto Jewels.  Which was heartbreaking to me.  When I first started at Encanto in Monica’s little house, I never dreamed of the possibilities awaiting me.  I never dreamed how much influence I would have over the business or how much creativity I would be able to express.  How many skills I would develop and how many beautiful connections I would make.  How much growth I would be a part of both professionally and personally.  I never dreamed that Encanto Jewels would take me to Colombia and change my life so deeply, so significantly.  All of these happened because of Encanto and because of Monica.  My gratitude for her and for the experiences this business has provided is endless.  Truly.

Because I love Encanto so much, I cannot stay away completely and will stay on as a blog writer and outside source for projects when needed, and I will be working on developing my own dreams one step at a time outside of Encanto.  I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me through all of the personal and professional ups and downs we have had over the years.  Encanto has attracted the most wonderful clients, reps and employees ever and I am so glad I am going to still remain connected with you all.

Love to all.


Eden Projects - Madagascar

Who Needs Trees?

A commentary on forest preservation; by Alyson Collom.

Tagua Tree

Yesterday Encanto Jewels pledged to support a campaign ran by Republic of Change – a group based in San Francisco with the aim to plant 1,000,000 trees to help combat climate change and the decimation of the planet’s forests.  Today I watched the video created for their Indiegogo campaign and was very moved.  Basically it paints a picture through spoken word of what will be left behind for future generations if we do nothing to help our planet.  Whether you believe that humans are responsible for climate change or not, there are still many destructive behaviors going on that we can do something about.  Preventing the decimation of the rainforests is something that we, at Encanto Jewels feel very strongly about.  In this video, they give the shocking statistic that 50% of all the trees in the world have been destroyed in the last 100 years.

A little while ago, a video was being circulated on the Internet (I saw it on Facebook, of course) that was put out by Conservation International and narrated by Julia Roberts.  It is one of the most powerful things I’ve seen on nature vs. man and has stuck with me since.  It’s less than two minutes long:

To me, this is so incredibly poignant because it takes the focus off of the climate change responsibility issue and makes the bottom line very clear: are we living in sustainable ways for ourselves and our future generations (both animal and mankind)?

The aim of the Republic of Change’s campaign is to help reforest Madagascar, a country that is home to 22 million people.  In the last 50 years, 90% of Madagascar has been deforested.  The Eden Project is the Republic of Change’s implementing partner and has already been hard at work planting trees and giving work to local villagers who previously had been extremely impoverished.  Watch the short video below to learn more about this project (this video is only 2 minutes long) and to be totally inspired.

It is organizations like these that continue to motivate and inspire Encanto Jewels to continue its own mission of helping to save rainforests in Colombia and has sparked passion projects that we are currently working on to further this mission.

If you haven’t watched it already, watch our video to learn more about how the Tagua industry is helping to prevent the deforestation of certain forests in Colombia.

Please do what you can to help support these groups, even if it is only to get the word out about what they are doing.

  • We would appreciate any comments below……

Thank you!!

                                                                                                      ~ Alyson Collom ~