The Kind Karma Story
Kind Karma spreads goodness through our commitment to ethical fashion that gives back and creates opportunity. By employing at-risk and homeless youth to make beautiful, custom handcrafted jewelry, all Kind Karma pieces have a positive impact not only in our community but throughout the world of fashion.
Kind Karma was born on the principle that if we spread good, then good will not only come back to us but will continue to spread.
By all accounts, 2016 appeared to be a hard and tumultuous year. Social media was flooded with posts lamenting one unbelievable moment after another and the overall mood seemed to be sad, bleak and unpromising. But as the saying goes, we should always "be the change we wish to see in the world" and so Kind Karma was established to counter negativity with hope and kindness.
Jewelry that gives back!
There is so much that we cannot control in the world but we can control how we treat each other. Amidst all the chaos of natural disasters, divisive politics and incomprehensible tragedies, nothing shines brighter than a little kindness and we hope you will help us spread that positivity with your support.
Employment that works.
Jewelry making is uniquely crafty and therapeutic. Many of the young people who work with us may be healing from trauma or dealing with various mental health challenges. Often this makes committing to shift work, set hours or providing customer service particularly challenging. For this reason, traditional employment for at-risk and transitioning homeless youth can be difficult to acquire and retain. At Kind Karma, we are happy to provide a flexible working environment which allows young people to work at a pace that suits their needs.
Our youths receive profits from each sale which enables and empowers them to seize better opportunities for a brighter future. Whether they choose to pursue an education, establish their independence or take a course related to their calling, each youth has a goal that Kind Karma helps them achieve.It is truly our belief that if we give youths the opportunity to better themselves, they will grow up to become positive influences in society with the ability to pay kindness forward by helping others in need.
A letter from our founder, Laurinda Lee-Retter:
During my third year of university, I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and although I didn't know it at the time, it was that diagnosis that would ultimately define the direction of my career.
Unable to concentrate at school, I tried to find purpose and direction through employment but without qualifications or experience, the only options to me were the two "r"'s - retail or restaurant. I chose retail but instead of helping me find purpose, the long hours, stressful environment and constant contact with customers ultimately exacerbated the mental health challenges I was facing. I spent many hours crying in the back room and I bounced around from company to company trying to find a light at the end of the tunnel.
Those years left a lasting impression on me and it has made me choose to work with youth because I see myself in them although I didn't go through even a fraction of the obstacles they struggle through. I know firsthand the challenges of working in a service role while going through mental and emotional healing and how it can sometimes feel like being trapped between two evils. Do you work to make money and survive or do you focus on healing and live on the streets? A lot of youth have to decide between these two options and no matter what they choose, they don't win.
I wanted to create an environment that offered meaningful employment that also allowed them to feel safe, supported and nurtured. I wanted to create an employment model so youth could actually work and balance life so they can achieve the healthy lifestyle that is fundamental to long-term success.
It is my privilege to be able to do this and for that, I am eternally grateful to the support that Kind Karma has and continues to receive. Thank you for supporting this mission to make the world a better place, one youth at a time.
Kind Karma is the embodiment of the wonderful youth we are privileged to work with and each piece of jewelry comes on a card that is signed by our youth artisans so you are connected to them just as we are. Here are some of the youth artisans we have (and continue) to work with so you can learn more about their story and who made your jewelry.
Although she describes her home as an environment with frequent conflict, Brooke herself is the most positive person you could ever imagine. Brooke is consistently the sweetest individual who is always ready to lend a hand or give a hug in support. She loves spending her spare time taking care of her pet animals and is also an amazing artist.
Rachael has had the most difficult past experiences to overcome but she is the embodiment of strength and resilience. Her determination is nothing short of inspirational and she is extremely understanding, mature and kind. Art-therapy employment seems to be designed for her and she is always eager to learn and develop her skills. We are so privileged to have her on our team and help her through find success through meaningful employment.
Originally from Iran, Farnaz came to Canada as a refugee and is adapting to life in her new home. She is such an inspiring individual for leaving everything behind to move across the world, alone, not even knowing the language. Farnaz is currently in school to improve her English and hopes to one day attend university to become an engineer! We are thrilled to be a part of her journey and are honored to support her in her new home.
Crystal is the designer of our very first youth collection and her pieces are aptly named the Crystal Zen Collection. Crystal struggled in school and was always told she would never attend college or succeed but she decided to prove her teachers wrong. She has found her calling in the arts and aside from learning about crystals and their healing properties, she is also a graphic designer and is working hard to build her portfolio. Read more about Crystal in her personal blog post!
Nik is a veteran of the children and youth service system but has made the most of his experiences and is one of the most intelligent individuals we have had the pleasure of working with. Nik loves learning about how things work and is always ready to participate in discussions of opinion where he can share his views and knowledge. He loves longboarding around the city and is so creative - he's always making the smallest objects out of little scraps of metal and paperclips.
Rebecca was born into difficult circumstances but her spirit remains undimmed by the challenges she has already faced in life. Rebecca has been through more in her young years than most of us face in a lifetime but she is still determined to succeed and approaches all experiences with enthusiasm. Rebecca loves music, painting and the arts and has been a true testament to the success of art therapy-based employment. We are thrilled to be part of her journey!
Stephanie grew up in a household that exposed her to much negativity - verbally, emotionally and environmentally - but she has learned to forgive the situation and will tell you that "her family tried their best." A young mother, Stephanie is determined to find success and is willing to work hard to achieve her goals. She loves learning about the jewelry-making process but also loves working with children and hopes to get her ECE certificate one day.
Shida came to Toronto from the Barbados and her transition to Canadian life and culture has been a struggle. Shida is extremely talented but her transition into the workforce proved to be challenging as it was hard for her to find the right fit. She is nevertheless a determined individual with big aspirations as she hopes to one day become an entrepreneur with the goal of giving back to the LGBTQ community. We look forward to seeing it happen!
I’m SO in love with your story and business model... and have worn the “Find Your Goodness” bracelet every day since I got it!
By Kama Jones of Ethigal Blog
I have been looking for a necklace to bring me brightness and the message on this card just reached out to me and I feel so beautiful wearing it. This trinket has brought so much light into my life and I truly wish it brings her [our artisan, Stephanie] just as much brightness.
This special person and her work is as amazing as the jewelry itself! Delicate, beautiful, flawless pieces of art. Everyone should own one!