Gede & Co is the result of the very human desire to make a difference coupled with the strength of local culture, history, and creativity. With a focus on sustainability, Gede & Co crafts and sells authentic Balinese jewelry pieces, all the while supporting Bali’s communities in persevering and recovering from their tribulations of late. In our interview with the team, we delved deeper into this brilliant idea of ‘jewelry for good.’
- What was the inspiration behind Gede & Co Jewellery for Good?
As a team, we have been very concerned about the dire effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, not just on health, but also the cascading and wide-ranging impacts on people’s livelihoods around the world.
In particular, we’d heard how devastating the pandemic has been for the communities in Bali and wanted to find a way to help. To do this, we thought the best way forward would be to create a sustainable business model leveraging the strengths of Bali, and the history of quality silver jewellery making in Bali was a great place to focus our attention.
We did some thinking as a team and that’s how Gede & Co was born, with the purpose of supporting sustainable livelihoods in Bali during the pandemic, through providing beautiful silver jewellery handcrafted in Bali to our customers.
- Tell us a bit about you guys, Gede & Co, the founders, the team?
Our founder, Carolyn, met Gede (pronounced like the kiwi phrase “g’day”) and his family during a trip to Bali in 2019. Carolyn spent a week in Bali with Gede, a local driver, who took Carolyn and her family to see some of Bali’s incredible sights, such as Uluwatu Temple, Padang beach, and the village of Ubud, surrounded by rainforest and rice paddies.
Carolyn and Gede stayed in touch, and when the pandemic struck, Carolyn reached out to some friends to see how we could help. We worked around our corporate jobs, in the evenings and on weekends, to develop the business concept, work through jewellery designs, establish the supply chain and build a website.
Gede plays a key role in our team on the ground, finding our jewelers in Bali, ordering the bespoke pieces for our line, and shipping product to New Zealand.
Carolyn and our team here in New Zealand manage product sales and administration. We’re a small group of passionate people, working to provide some beautiful products that bring joy to our customers and deliver positive change and hope to those who need it.
- Jewellery for Good is a wonderful concept. So how does it work in a nutshell?
As a social enterprise, all the profit from jewellery sales goes towards our purpose, to provide a source of income to those in Bali whose livelihoods have been impacted by the pandemic.
We know jewellery is not an everyday purchase, but that people in Bali need financial means to support their livelihoods every day. So, we’re focusing on products that are great for everyday use, special occasions, and gifts. A gift is a great opportunity to support a good cause and share that gift with a community who really needs our support.
- Who are the people most benefitting from the proceeds?
The profit from every piece of Gede & Co jewellery goes to support everyday living expenses for the Balinese people, helping to buy food, pay rent, and keep their children in school. These funds then pass through the Bali community, supporting the local vendors who provide the food and basic supplies they are able to purchase with these funds. In this way, every piece of jewellery can go a long way.
As we grow, we hope to be able to increase our impact, and support more families and communities in Bali through the sale of our products.
- How are the funds raised supporting those in need?
80% of the Bali economy is supported by tourism. The impact of the tourism industry is widespread, with many of Bali’s four million residents having been employed through the tourism industry, directly or indirectly, for generations.
With the Indonesian borders closed to all foreign nationals since March 2020, the pandemic has caused tremendous loss and suffering for Balinese families. The borders remain closed for the foreseeable future, and even after the borders open it will take years for international tourists to return and the local economy and communities to recover.
As a result, many hotels and local businesses have been forced to close, with no other means to provide for the living expenses of the Balinese people, such as food, rent, and education. There is no government assistance in Bali, so the impact is devastating. This is where we aim to make a difference, and through the funds from Gede & Co, to provide a cascading benefit to the wider community.
- The jewellery looks gorgeous. What is unique about them? Any special stories?
Our team in New Zealand researches and designs jewellery that we know our customers here in New Zealand, Australia and around the world will love.
We describe our style as classic with vibrant colours to reflect the spirit and beauty of Bali, such as the glowing Balinese sunsets, the crystal blue sea, the luminous moon, or the waving palm trees lining the beach. Each piece of jewellery features one of our locally sourced gemstones of blue topaz, pink zirconia, amethyst, peridot, or moonstone. We design our pieces so you can wear them every day, like our Padang studs, or as a complement for something really special, like our Tear Drop Earrings or Celuk Pendant Necklace.
Our Jeweller, Made (pronounced mah-day), is our expert Balinese silversmith. He creates the pieces with genuine 925 sterling silver, and you can find his initials on the Celuk Pendant necklace chain. His craft was passed down to him from his father and his grandfather before. Made lives with his wife and three children in Celuk Village, the heart of Balinese jewellery making.
- What has the impact been so far? Any key milestones?
We’re thrilled with our progress so far. After one month of operation we have already sold out of several items and have made two shipments from Bali so far, which is providing critical funds to support the lives of Balinese people and their children.
We are working to supply some local stores in Auckland so they can carry our line as a great opportunity for them to participate in and support a social cause, so relevant to the struggles we face today. We have also been encouraged to see our online community grow. It’s been wonderful to connect with customers and other suppliers who have the same values and desire to help as we do.
- Are there any surprising facts about the everyday struggles of the people and the region (outside of just the covid crisis) that people may not be aware of?
Bali is an Indonesian island known for its stunning beaches, spectacular volcanic mountains, and the friendly Balinese people, all which make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Bali is a relatively young country, with over one million children representing almost 30% of the entire population. Malnutrition and hunger have been an issue in Bali’s less developed eastern districts, with many villages having no roads, electricity, phone or internet reception. The prevalence of malnutrition in children is relatively high, with over 30% of children under five having stunted growth.
While tourism has been a great support to growth in Indonesia, there are many remaining challenges, and ensuring that Bali can grow sustainably in a way that enables positive social and environmental outcomes is critical.
- Are there any future plans for Gede & Co to continue supporting the Balinese people (outside of peak crisis periods)?
Our social enterprise has been born of the immediate needs created by the pandemic, but we see an ongoing opportunity to support the people of Bali, and we would love to be able to do that and find new ways to support going forward. We believe the pandemic will have continuing and compounding impacts for many years, so we don’t think our job will be done anytime soon.
To find out more, support their cause, and grab yourself a beautiful Balinese piece, visit www.gedeandco.com
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