How the Sustainable Development Goals and B Corp certification helped Yala Jewellery create a successful ethical brand.
By Ellie Kirkman
To illustrate this in practice we asked the brilliant CEO of Yala Jewellery, Audrey Migot-Adholla, for her insights into building a business focused on the Goals and how B Corp certification has supported her work.
Where it all began
In their own words, Yala is a modern jewellery brand that embodies intricate design, sustainable materials, ethics and transparency. A female-founded and black-owned brand, Yala is built on social values, to improve the lives of others by creating financial opportunities for skilled artisans. They were also the first B Corp certified jewellery brand in the UK.
Inspired by her Kenyan heritage, Migot-Adholla chose her home country to outsource production of her jewellery collection as she believed that:
“It would be a really good way to provide financial empowerment and skills development to artisans working back home”.
At the time, she was unaware of the Sustainable Development Goals and that this decision was a way to play a role in achieving them. Migot-Adholla came across the SDGs whilst working towards B Corp certification and says it was like having “a name to put to my ideas”.
How B Corp Certification benefits Yala
Certified B Corporations are leaders of a global movement of businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. The B Impact Assessment ensures brands maintain a high sustainable and ethical standard in the way they do business, and supports them to embed the SDGs in their ways of working.
Migot-Adholla chose to certify Yala as a B Corp after discovering the certification on a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream! Initially, she didn’t feel the brand qualified to fulfil B Corp’s requirements. However, as time went on, she realised that B Corp “provides a really good framework for how to do business, and educates […] that profit, people and planet are not mutually exclusive”.
Although the certification took her six months to complete, Migot-Adholla insists that the lengthy process was necessary and she is “glad (she) did it from the get-go and can grow into it, rather than having to retrofit a large set of operations into that mould”.
B Corp provided resources to support her business, such as marketing tools to educate consumers on the Sustainable Development Goals. “If people ask me about B Corp, I will explain what it is and how it differentiates me from other brands without sustainability credentials. I will tell them that everyone involved in the production process has been considered when I make the decisions that I choose to make.”
5 ways B Corp Certification helped
Framework for working responsibly
Resources and support network
Access to new opportunities
Differentiate from competitors
Verified social and environmental performance
Although few consumers yet know what it means to be a B Corp certified brand, Yala has been able to access a wealth of retail opportunities through the B Corp network. For example becoming a stockist at The Canvas, a New York and Antwerp based sustainable goods retailer.
The Canvas has a number of requirements for brands, including that they must be working towards at least three of the Sustainable Development Goals. As consumer expectation of brands increases, it is likely that more retailers, like The Canvas, may impose social and environmental requirements on the brands they stock. B Corp has provided Yala with a competitive advantage in this regard.
How Yala contributes to the SDGS
Yala primarily focuses on four Goals:
Responsible Consumption and Production.
By supporting a beading workshop staffed by Masai Mara women, Yala has given women living in a patriarchal society the opportunity to make their own money, which is then disseminated within their surrounding communities. As a result, Jemima, the Masai Mara workshop manager, has a waiting list of women seeking employment.
A statistic given by Migot-Adholla from a research study on the Masai Mara workshop, showed that the earnings of these women financially benefitted around 300 additional community households through family dependencies.
Yala knows every person working within their supply chain, something that is rare in the jewellery sector. Migot-Adholla considers herself lucky to be in such a position.
“I wish that every time you bought any product you could see the person who made it, however, I know that it would be more than just one face. If we could humanise consumer goods more, I think people would make better choices”.
All Yala’s materials are reused, recycled or upcycled in some way - some pieces include Kenyan cow horn that would usually be thrown away by farmers. Committing to the Responsible Consumption and Production Goal has meant that the choice of materials available for the production of Yala’s collection are limited. However, Migot-Adholla insists that this only makes her decisions clearer and easier to make.
Yala is going from strength to strength in the jewellery industry, whilst having a positive impact on the people and planet around them. When asked what advice she would give other small fashion and jewellery brands to help them work more responsibly, Migot-Adholla tells us the simplest way is just to “make less stuff”!
If you want to find out more about B Corp certification or about Yala, click the links below. Or contact us to see how we can support your brand to achieve B Corp Certification and work towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
Yala Jewellery: https://www.yalajewellery.com/
B Corp: www.bcorporation.uk/
More? Read about jewellery retailer, EC One's B Corp Certification in our blog on How to Become an Award-Winning Ethical Jewellery Brand