Today, I have a special interview with Haby Barry, creator of Fulaba. Fulaba works with artisans in Guinea to provide timeless jewelry pieces from African high culture. After receiving my own beautiful gold-dipped Fulani bracelet from Fulaba, I had to learn more about this new company and its mission!
Please tell us a little about yourself and what motivated you to start Fulaba?
I'm first generation American of Fulani descent and my parents immigrated here in the 80s from Guinea, West Africa. I’m a creative person, an artist at heart and a deep music lover - I actually went to NYU for Music Business and got a Bachelor's in Music. After receiving countless compliments on my Fulani earrings that were made of brass which I purchased in Harlem a while back I got to thinking that there is an opportunity to truly bring high quality Fulani earrings along with the story and messaging of the ancient tradition in a beautiful way. As a marketer, I understand the power of branding and messaging and got to work after my family and I found the right artisans to work with in Conakry.
Can you tell us a bit about the Fulani people & their culture? What role does jewelry play in their culture?
The Fulani people are the largest nomadic tribe in the world who migrated east of the Sahara several thousand years ago and heavily populated Sub-Saharan Africa. Like many indigenous tribes, the Fulani tribe was organized by class. There were the aristocrats, the governors, the blacksmiths, the tailors, the griots (people who performed songs and danced as well as told stories), etc. The Fulani come from a tradition of herders and commercial traders who take pride in the number of cattle they own. Fulani jewelry is a symbol of wealth and nobility and was prominent among the noble class (aristocrats, governors and religious leaders). The bigger the Fulani earrings and the more gold and jewelry a Fulani woman had, the more wealth she had.
What is the process like for making the jewelry?
Both the Fulani earrings and bracelets are made by hand and the metal is twisted using small tools.
How does Fulaba aim to improve the economic conditions in Guinea?
By making this jewelry, these craftsmen are able to produce orders that they would not otherwise have and it is a significant income that helps to support their families. Currently, we are still operating at a very small scale but the plan is to train and employ youth to learn and preserve this art form as we grow.
Is there anything else that you would like to share?
Our product line includes Fulani earrings and bracelets that are copper dipped in 22k gold and pure silver and a higher quality version of the Fulani earrings that are heavy gold plated with 23k gold. All of our products are available for purchase at www.fulaba.com. We only ship to the US and Canada but will be expanding to ship globally sometime early next year. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in touch for exciting news and special offers and follow us on social media, IG: @fulaba_fulani_earrings and FB: www.facebook.com/fulaniearrings