how I got so passionate about jewelry, self-expression and girls' empowerment (and where you come in!)
When’s the last time you felt fully yourself?
Not who you or other people think you ‘should’ be. Just yourself. Feeling 100% at ease with all of you — and confidently expressing that to the world.
Does that sound familiar, or maybe more like a dream?
I know how it feels, being lost in everyday routines and expectations. Wondering if you’re even showing up anymore, or if it’s just a translucent not-quite-there version of you.
Thankfully, I also know what it feels like to slowly emerge from that haze of daily demands, office politics and car lines. To feel like you’re part of something bigger. To look in the mirror and actually love who looks back.
To reflect that beautiful woman within by how you dress outside.
Not to impress anyone else — just to feel fabulously you!
This part of my story begins 10 years ago, at a corporate breakfast celebrating the International Day of the Girl.
There I sat in a room full of high-powered women. Even though I was an active co-owner of a successful financial planning practise (the only female with 2 male partners) — I felt out of my league at this fancy gathering.
Crying in my eggs was the absolute last thing I expected.
Yet, I did. Cebile Manzini-Henwood, head of the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) at that time, brought me to my proverbial knees. It didn’t matter that one of my wealth management clients — also the Executive Director of the hosting organization (no pressure) — had personally invited me.
I didn’t notice the reactions of the other professional women at the event. At that moment, I only saw Cebile, and through her, the girls of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland). Listening to her poignant and powerful presentation, I was a mess.
She shared heartbreaking stories of girls living in constant fear.
I felt the raw intensity of male teachers betraying trust and the desperation of families making their daughters marry at 10 and 11 because they struggle to feed them.
My own experience as an awkward, unsure teenager flooded back. And I had a safe, supportive environment.
How much more did these little girls feel the painful angst of growing up — always looking over their shoulder, grappling with normalized abuse and feeling like their very existence is a burden?
Just as fast, hope burst onto the scene.
Cebile, with deep love and warmth, shared how Girls’ Empowerment Clubs give girls a safe place to just be girls.
Inclusive clubs that let them unwind — providing a protected space for expressing themselves and being children. A safe place for journaling, sharing, singing, drawing, dancing and connecting. And, best yet, the clubs showed incredibly positive results — almost immediately.
Her presence, and this opportunity, changed me. She came into my world during this time when I felt uneasy in myself, my profession, in my skin. While experiencing Cebile’s beautifully powerful confidence, something unlocked inside.
None of this had been on my radar. When I heard the relatively low cost of sponsoring one girl for an entire year, inspiration compelled me into action.
This, I could do. Involvement wasn’t optional.
My wonderful client, Karen, led Crossroads International — a partner of SWAGAA and the event sponsor. A Canadian-based volunteer organization, Crossroads directly supports local efforts in Burkina Faso, Canada, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, eSwatini, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. (So no icky ‘charity’ feel.)
After generously inviting me to this exclusive event, Karen again extended her graciousness. She’d noticed my strong reaction (bawling my eyes out).
Karen asked me to join their Advisory Committee for the Girls’ Empowerment Program — and I jumped in with both feet!
I was thrilled to think that we’d be working together and strengthening our bond over the Girls’ Clubs. Sadly, shortly after our conversation, Karen became seriously ill. She stepped down from her position to be with family and create beautiful art.
The Crossroads and SWAGAA family deeply mourn Karen’s tragic passing from brain cancer. Her loving and energetic commitment to girls’ empowerment forever impacted countless lives — including my own. Losing a friend and respected colleague left an indelible mark on my heart.
It’s not lost on me that Karen invited me to both a Crossroads event and the Crossroads committee — and at those crossroads, I completely changed the course of my life.
Karen opened the door for me to discover my own deep and abiding passion for this work. Cebile’s light showed me the importance of celebrating, honouring and rejoicing in full self-expression.
For their impact on me and the world, I’m forever grateful to Karen Takacs and Cebile Manzini-Henwood. I’m not a religious person, but I “thank God” every day for them.
how self-expression + girls’ empowerment
= kp jewelry co.
Over the years of fundraising and advocating with these two powerhouse women (and others), I came to life. In the warm and welcoming environment, I was safe to play and bring all of me to the table. I started letting go of my analytical self-judgments.
I felt the freedom, joy and alignment of being who I really am.
In touch with my inner 16-year-old self who just wants to laugh and swear, express my creativity and empathy — exactly how and when I want to! Promoting African girls to simply be themselves unlocked my restrained, career-woman persona.
Kathleen Peace came out to play. I started making jewelry for fun. The joy of feeling and expressing my whole self led to me wanting that all the time. As friends and family started asking me for handcrafted jewelry, a wild idea came.
What if I left the financial world I’d fallen out of love with after 25 years? What if I followed my inspiration — and chose to make joyfully designing and crafting jewelry my new business? After 15 years as a co-owner of a successful planning firm, I said “yes!” to myself. I turned a brand new page in my life!
With kp jewelry co., I’m passionate about offering the opportunity for your earrings to match more than just your outfit.
Together, we can use beautiful jewelry to reflect the beauty of our inner selves. kp earrings help you match your outside with your inside.
The Girls’ Empowerment Program (of course!) plays a central role in my business. 5% of every sale goes to serve more incredible girls. I believe we all deserve to authentically express ourselves, and — when we do — we set off a ripple effect that matters.
Every handcrafted piece holds the intention of inspiring other women around you and empowering young girls halfway around the world.
kp jewelry co. helps you feel amazing, inside and out. So we all live in full connection with our true selves. For Her. With Her. By Her.
Now, whether I’m fundraising, sweating it out to Beyoncé or enjoying a (virtual) cocktail with great friends — I’m at my best when I’m being myself fully, completely and fearlessly.
Ladies, bottom line: together, we’re changing the world with our choices and brightening the future for girls everywhere. Onward!