In the past few months I have had the honor of meeting and getting to know one of the most “creative spirits” I’ve ever met…Wendy Spivey. She is creative, generous, and fun! She is the creator and designer of “My African Heart” Jewelry (and what woman doesn’t love Jewelry??).
I asked Wendy to share with The Gazelle Skirt readers a little bit of her story…
I came to Senegal by way of Indonesia and Tanzania from my home in Sydney Australia, I’ve always been a bower bird of sorts, collecting beads, and anything that sparkles from markets around the world, it was during my years running a Safari Company in Arusha, Tanzania that my love of gemstones came into being, many clients wanted to purchase the spectacular “Tanzanite” the Blue diamond of Africa, 5000 times rarer than diamonds, and readily available to me because of my friendship with most of the dealers and the maasai who mined these precious stones.
Soon I was buying and selling stones, of many descriptions, as Tanzania has an amazing bounty of Sapphires, Tsvorites and many other stones you have never heard of.
In 2005 we moved from East Africa to West Africa, not just a massive plane trip but a totally new world, my beautiful life in Tanzania was over and here I was, with no French, sometimes coming out with Swahili words instead wondering if I would ever be happy again.
Lucky for me a friend introduced me to “The Dakar Women’s Group” which in the beginning frightened the life out of me, all these amazing capable women from all walks of life, being so well organized and raising money for women and children, I soon found my voice and started to meet ladies who had similar interests to my own. One of the ladies was an American called Marti, her house used to look as though it was in a African Gallery with all manner of beads and baskets, masks and furniture, I loved going there every Wednesday morning where I learned the finer art of old beads, and beading itself, I was soon able to wear what I had made!
Out of those beginnings I found myself (Still without any French) nosing around the markets of downtown Dakar, buying all sorts of beads and old bits and pieces, one of the little places I went to, was the shop of 2 young men, both making silver like no one else in Dakar, the new breed of Dakar I used to say, and soon I was designing and making my own pieces, using many of the gemstones collected in Tanzania, selling from my house, mostly to friends. The boys enjoyed a new found sense of their own worth, and one day proudly showed me the sign they had painted over the shop “Wendy Collection” that day I shed buckets of tears because it made me realize how by teaching them about business I was learning more myself, the old saying about Teaching a man to fish story..
Early on I decided that any profits I made through my Jewelry sales would help others, and so lucky for me, I have been able to assist with school fees for several children, paid for a computer for another, and most recently was able to assist a wonderful young lady who I had helped with her education by assisting with a scholarship to ISD in Dakar proceed to college in Atlanta GA, by paying for her air ticket and providing her with some pocket money. I am so proud that I can make a difference by using something I enjoy doing and that is creative and help others at the same time.
You can contact Wendy and find out more about her Jewelry on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MyAfricanHeartJewelry?ref=br_tf below are just a few samples of her Jewelry.