With no experience in accessory design prior to co-founding the jewelry company
in 2009, Maxandra Short took her inspiration in life experience. The world traveler was born in Singapore, lived in cities like Jakarta and Seoul, and eventually found herself in Los Angeles, working as a magazine writer. It was friend and future business partner Amy Walker's work in Rwanda that provided the pair with the foundation of their company: a piece of Ankole cow horn.
"Amy was doing research on handicraft for a non-profit organization in Rwanda, and she came across this Ankole cow horn," says Short. "She called me and said, 'I think we can do something with this.' It was such an inspiring material for us."
Tomorrow, June 2, from noon to 6 p.m., Short will provide more inspiration at Goldyn, 2040 West 30th Avenue, where she'll host a trunk show of the company's never-before-seen Fall 2012 collection.
With sustainability as a key component of KORA's business model, all materials in this collection were sourced directly from the artisans' locations: Kenya and Ghana. The idea is to create a sustainable economy by encouraging people who can provide the quality work required by KORA's intricate and durable designs.
"A lot of the time, this approach is on a 'cheap and cheerful' level," Short says. "Artisan-made goods need to be elevated in the public eye, with a focus on craftsmanship," the designer says of KORA's role place in the market. This is not a pity buy, she notes; the jewelry isn't cheaply made, and prices reflect that.
After spending her summers in Boulder as a child, Short was drawn to Colorado as a place where KORA might be able to reach its target customer base: the modern, contemporary, fashion-forward person. Goldyn in Denver was an obvious choice, and a chance cold call Short made on the highbrow boutique brought her a huge surprise: The store was owned by her childhood friend, Vanessa Barcus. The rest is business history, and KORA is now sold through Goldyn year-round.
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Tomorrow's event is a special one, though. Not only will shoppers and fans of the line get a chance to see KORA's latest designs before anyone else, but because two long friends will get to collaborate once again, in-person.