I've always been a big fan of connecting to my roots and my community—especially when it involves helping or empowering others. That's exactly why, when I first launched Mala and Mantra, I knew I wanted to work with a Fair Trade, female-artisan cooperative in the Philippines (where my family is from) to make all of our products. Through this partnership, we help provide a group of artisans with sustainable income, a safe work environment, job training and more in exchange for the beautiful, consciously created, handcrafted Mala and Mantra pieces they make.

That's also why I recently decided to launch a jewelry workshop in the local San Diego community with the help of the local non-profit organization Access San Diego and local jewelry designer Eva Zuzuarregui. This M-powered project, which we call Joyeria (jewelry in Spanish), is a free, monthly workshop where Eva helps provide real-life jewelry-making skills to underprivileged women and students in the San Diego area. Not only are these women and students learning straight from a talented, professional designer, but they’re also gaining skills and the opportunity to earn a sustainable income working either for themselves or for others.

Eva assisting a student at a recent Joyeria workshop.

Eva assisting a student at a recent Joyeria workshop.

Mala and Mantra is proud to sponsor and provide materials for this workshop, and grateful that we’ve been able to find such a fun, valuable and interactive way to help inspire and empower the women in our community. We’re also thrilled to work with the gifted Eva Zuzuarregui, who is absolutely key to the success of the Joyeria Workshops. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, Eva has a degree in jewelry design from San Diego State University. Keep reading for our exclusive interview with this talented designer.

Mala and Mantra (M+M): How long have you been designing and making jewelry? How did you first discover your passion for jewelry design?
Eva Zuzuarregui (EZ): I have been designing jewelry since I was a teenager. I grew up in an artistic family, where my father was a painter and my grandmother was a fashion designer.
I started by designing and making dresses, and later began designing and making jewelry. Art was the obvious choice for my formal education. I fell in love with metals and jewelry from the very first class. Art is my main way of personal expression.

M+M: Why did you decide to team up with Mala and Mantra to host these Joyeria Workshops
EZ: Mala and Mantra’s support of global artisans is wonderful. When I was invited to teach jewelry making to the women at the Access Center, I was very excited. I love the idea of teaching someone a skill that could help enrich her life.

M+M: Why do you think the skills these women learn at the Joyeria Workshops are important and helpful to them?
EZ: Learning jewelry making will allow them to express themselves and develop artistically. I find it very therapeutic and a valuable skill set. My hope is that they will discover a new passion in creating works of art and explore self-expression.

M+M: How do you feel these workshops empower the women who participate in them?
EZ: Jewelry making can make them feel more confident, knowing that they have a skill or an undiscovered talent. Knowledge is power, and I believe that once given the opportunity to explore, the possibilities are endless.

Mala and Mantra is so grateful to both Eva and Access San Diego for helping make the Joyeria workshop a reality. I hope this only the first of many programs we can develop to help empower women in our community and around the globe.

Namaste,
JPC

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