Designer Spotlight: Kathy Kamei

This Canadian television star traveled halfway around the globe to find her true calling: jewelry

I knew I loved Kathy Kamei (pictured, right) when she took my request to throw me in her suitcase seriously. This talented jewelry designer manufactures her work in the magnificent part of the world we call Bali. I already found her work fascinating but was dying to know more about overseas manufacturing. As I discovered while writing a piece for another jewelry publication, the local versus overseas manufacturing debate prompts a lot of passionate dialogue. She quickly quelled my fears about controversy. Kamei offers her workers the same conveniences we’d offer a worker here in the states, and it’s no wonder to me that the craftsmanship is superb. Her team definitely goes the extra mile for their fearless leader, and she has given us all something to smile about.

Why did you decide to become a jewelry designer?

I was inspired to start creating jewelry that inspired women. I have three girls, and I’m one of three sisters. Bali has such magic in the creation of handmade goods. While living over in Bali for nine years I learned the language. I was so inspired by the artisans and the love and attention they put into each piece.

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Solid Quadruple Life Circle necklace in sterling silver and 18k gold vermeil 

Could you tell us more about your journey to Bali with your daughters? What inspired that trip?

I was planning a sabbatical to Bali for six months from a television-hosting position that I had in Canada. I packed up my two little girls, then 4 and 6 years old, to head out for an adventure. I fell so madly in love with this island: the simplicity, the people, the rich spiritual connection I felt daily.

What inspired you to stay in Bali and start a jewelry business?

After a few weeks into the trip I was offered a position at American clothing company that manufactured its work there. I consulted with them for a year and a half, which was a wonderful experience. I then realized I was ready to create something of my very own. I began my own children’s clothing company and consulted for several others until I moved to the U.S. in 2001. Jewelry was a natural progression, and it’s amazing that I get to go back and visit such a magical place that I adore several times a year.

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Solid Triple Life Circle cuff in sterling silver and 18k gold vermeil 

There are a lot of wrong perceptions out there about overseas manufacturing. Could you please tell us more about your manufacturing facility and how your organization supports the local community?

Many people feel manufacturing overseas has a reputation of child labor and unethical conditions. This is not the case at our factory at all. We provide a wonderful situation for our smiths including accommodation, lunch, as well as bonus-based incentives. I am proud to say we have partnered with our factory for years and have always put our artisans first, which is reflective in the product as well as the energy it carries. Additionally, we are a 100 percent green factory, which includes recycling all of our silver.

How do you want your audience to interact with your art? How do you want them to feel?

My greatest joy is that my audience feels inspired and reminded to love self, celebrate relationships, and live with beauty in their hearts as well as on their being.

Why are you excited for JCK Tucson?

We are so thrilled to be coming to JCK and feel inspired to connect with new and old customers to broaden our mission.

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Black Chandelier earrings in sterling silver and 18k gold vermeil