Kyleigh Kuhn: Afghan Moon Phase Necklace
We have teamed up with Kyleigh Kuhn on a very exciting project to produce our signature Moon Phase Necklace handcrafted by jewelers in Afghanistan.
Afghan artisans handcrafting the Kyleigh Moon Phase Necklace
I met Pamela when Vogue Magazine invited me to dawn her designs for her CFDA review. I was new to New York, leaving my job as a Teacher’s Assistant at UC Berkeley in Global Studies to follow a whim. My family began Roots of Peace (rootsofpeace.org), a non-profit organization, removing landmines and planting vineyards and orchards in Afghanistan and Vietnam, transforming "MINES to VINES." After growing up with such a serious overtone of visiting conflict zones, engaging the fashion industry to shed light on our work sounded like a wonderful way to strike a balance between my passion for design and my purpose.
I decided to start working with jewelry artisans to bring their skills to the US market after returning from my second trip to Afghanistan. I had the chance to meet Anna Wintour and explain my desire to collaborate with designers to produced pieces in Afghanistan. She connected me with Pamela—her design sensibility aligned perfectly with the rustic and mystic style of Afghan inlaid jewelry.
Our first attempt to design pieces in Afghanistan was fraught with setbacks... sample drawings were misinterpreted and the cost and time of adjusting them started taking a toll on our patience. I was in my early twenties and might have gotten myself over my head, running around as a one-woman show, learning the New York jewelry industry and the complicated politics of business in Afghanistan simultaneously.
In 2014, the Roots of Peace office in Kabul was attacked by the Taliban. It was a devastating experience that claimed the lives of two civilians and the four boys who attacked us. Miraculously, none of our staff or guards were killed, but the shock and violence of the event left me and my family rattled for years. I was forced to stop my jewelry project and found myself in a tailspin of questioning whether to continue this work or put my energy elsewhere.
Earlier this year, Pamela reached out wondering if I’d like to revive the project. It felt like an invitation to reconnect with a part of myself that I thought I lost. I moved back to Northern California and felt very distant from that whimsical life of fashion I had once celebrated. It felt like a little flame reignited in me.
We thought it would be a simple process since we already had a sample ready from our previous attempt. But after the attack, many of the people I had worked with left the country, so I had to start over building a trusting relationship and clear process with new artisans. As it turned out, the second round of creating the design was perhaps more difficult than the first. Pamela’s eye for quality set a high bar for the artisans. She shepherded the project to cut no corners, insisting that each piece met the quality her brand is built on. Her commitment to detail inspired me to seek out working with a team, allowing for more support to produce a product we are proud to share.
Even though we had many obstacles to overcome, this round felt different. My resolve was strengthened by the healing I had endured after the attack. For me, this necklace is so much more than a jewelry piece. And I believe it is no accident that the design is the phases of the moon. Sometimes it feels like the light has left, but in time, the sun hits a sliver of us again and reignites us back to become a full mirror to light up the night. Next time I find myself in the dark new moon phase, I will feel more at ease in this knowing that the cycle will continue. The light always returns. And I will be grateful for the next person who holds out a hand to welcome me back into the light the way Pamela did.
“A new moon teaches gradualness and deliberation and how one gives birth to oneself slowly. Patience with small details makes perfect a work, like the universe." -Rumi