"every pair gives care to children in Congo"
Kicheko meaning "smile" or "laughter" in Swahili - is a cause-based brand producing and sourcing social goods that benefit orphan care and continuing education in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
My name is Sarah Bayot and I have the privilege of growing and sharing Kicheko as a for-profit business with a heart for social good. I have been based out of beautiful Washington, D.C. for 10 years now which practically makes me a native. My alma mater is also based in D.C. and it was at George Washington University where I received my M.A. in International Affairs & Development; danced on a crazy close hip hop dance team called Capital Funk; and met my love, now husband, James. There is a special place in my heart for social entrepreneurship, fashion, pandas, travel and pesto anything. Before Kicheko, I developed 7 years of experience in an eclectic mix of management, nonprofit startups, missions, writing, event & retreat planning, voiceover work, and prop styling. I also blog about style, culture, and real life at Fashion and Philosophers. Now, onto the story.
Born out of a love to create and a desire to see Congo healed and restored, I began making earrings with a group of women from the DC area. Beginning with a pop-up shop at a university vendor fair in 2012, the earrings took off and Kicheko was born. Giving it a couple years to test the waters and steadily build up to this point, it has become a full-time endeavor in 2014. I chose "Kicheko," which means "smile/laughter" in Swahili because through the goods and conversations that inevitably ensue, I desire to add the narrative of joy and resilience embedded in the Congolese despite very difficult circumstances. This endeavor has been an interesting avenue to engage many in the story of Congo and the struggles it still faces today.
I have traveled to eastern Congo from 2011-2014 to partner with a locally-led organization called Congo for Christ Center (CCC), which provides orphan care and education to 57 orphans and community outreach to hundreds of Congolese. In my travels, it has been uplifting to see their joy and an honor that they share it with us so generously. Even in the midst of poverty, sickness, and the looming threat of instability that continues to loom - they hold fast to community and to hope. Smiles and laughter can be healing medicine and it can perpetuate catharsis and joy to others. There is a sweetness in the laugh of a child and Kicheko is committed to protecting and preserving these precious years of childhood. Every pair of Kicheko earrings goes towards supporting capacity building initiatives and continuing education in eastern Congo.
I am pleased to say that the product line has now expanded to scarves and men's cufflinks. We will be debuting new product or a collection theme each season so stay tuned. Purchase for yourself or as gifts for friends, family or that random person who needs their day made. Don your Kicheko. Share the story. Choose love each day. Together, we can make a difference.