#GOODTRIBE INTERVIEW WITH LAURINDA LEE-RETTER, FOUNDER OF KIND KARMA COMPANY

Founder of Kind Karma Company, Laurina Lee-Retter

Spring is right around the corner we can’t wait to witness everything blossoming once again. It’s a beautiful process, isn’t it? What’s more beautiful is when we see our communities bloom with the seeds of love we sow today. The founder of Kind Karma Company, Laurinda Lee-Retter made it her life’s purpose to help at-risk and unemployed youth of Toronto to channelize their unrecognized talents into making exquisite, dainty jewelry. Emerging like a phoenix from her own adverse experiences, she’s making world a more inclusive place every day. So, let’s add to our lists of good karma for the day, by getting to know about this wonderful initiative.

What is your mission at Kind Karma Company?

Kind‌ ‌Karma‌ ‌employs‌ ‌at-risk‌ ‌and‌ ‌homeless‌ ‌youth‌ ‌in‌ ‌Toronto‌ ‌to‌ ‌handcraft‌ ‌fine‌ ‌jewelry.‌ ‌In‌ ‌addition‌ ‌to‌ ‌fair‌ ‌hourly‌ ‌wages,‌ ‌proceeds‌ ‌from‌ ‌sales‌ ‌are‌ ‌returned‌ ‌to‌ ‌youth‌ ‌employees‌ ‌to‌ ‌support‌ ‌their‌ ‌individual‌ ‌goals.‌ ‌Our‌ ‌mission‌ ‌is‌ ‌to‌ ‌break‌ ‌the‌ ‌cycle‌ ‌of‌ ‌poverty‌ ‌by‌ ‌enabling‌ ‌our‌ ‌future‌ ‌generation‌ ‌of‌ ‌leaders‌ ‌to‌ ‌reach‌ ‌their‌ ‌full‌ ‌potential‌ ‌so‌ ‌they‌ ‌can‌ ‌continue‌ ‌to‌ ‌pay‌ ‌kindness‌ ‌forward.‌ ‌

 ‌Tell us about the genesis of your brand.

 For‌ ‌Kind‌ ‌Karma‌ ‌founder,‌ ‌Laurinda‌ ‌Lee-Retter,‌ ‌2016‌ ‌was‌ ‌a‌ ‌hard‌ ‌year‌ ‌and‌ ‌it‌ ‌was‌ ‌a‌ ‌sentiment‌ ‌that‌ ‌seemed‌ ‌to‌ ‌echo‌ ‌across‌ ‌society‌ ‌throughout‌ ‌those‌ ‌365‌ ‌days.‌ ‌Determined‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌the‌ ‌following‌ ‌year‌ ‌much‌ ‌better‌ ‌she‌ ‌decided‌ ‌to‌ ‌do‌ ‌her‌ ‌part‌ ‌in‌ ‌spreading‌ ‌kindness‌ ‌and‌ ‌positivity‌ ‌to‌ ‌those‌ ‌that‌ ‌needed‌ ‌it‌ ‌the‌ ‌most.‌ ‌Kind‌ ‌Karma‌ ‌was‌ ‌born‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌principle‌ ‌that‌ ‌if‌ ‌we‌ ‌do‌ ‌good,‌ ‌not‌ ‌only‌ ‌will‌ ‌good‌ ‌come‌ ‌back‌ ‌to‌ ‌us‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌form‌ ‌of‌ ‌karma,‌ ‌but‌ ‌it‌ ‌will‌ ‌continue‌ ‌to‌ ‌spread‌ ‌and‌ ‌create‌ ‌waves‌ ‌of‌ ‌positive‌ ‌impact‌ ‌throughout‌ ‌the‌ ‌community.‌‌While‌ ‌there‌ ‌were‌ ‌many‌ ‌individuals‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌community‌ ‌that‌ ‌needed‌ ‌a‌ ‌helping‌ ‌hand,‌ Laurinda‌ ‌was‌ ‌drawn‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌plight‌ ‌of‌ ‌vulnerable‌ ‌youth‌ ‌because‌ ‌of‌ ‌their‌ ‌unique‌ ‌situation‌ ‌and‌ ‌how‌ ‌it‌ ‌resonated‌ ‌with‌ ‌her‌ ‌own‌ ‌experiences.‌ ‌Most‌ ‌youth‌ ‌are‌ ‌often‌ ‌misconceived‌ ‌as‌ ‌“bad‌ ‌kids”‌ ‌but‌ ‌the‌ ‌truth‌ ‌is,‌ ‌most‌ ‌of‌ ‌them‌ ‌end‌ ‌up‌ ‌either‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌streets‌ ‌or‌ ‌in‌ ‌foster‌ ‌care‌ ‌because‌ ‌of‌ ‌situations‌ ‌they‌ ‌did‌ ‌not‌ ‌create‌ ‌or‌ ‌domestic‌ ‌environments‌ ‌that‌ ‌are‌ ‌so‌ ‌unhealthy‌ ‌that‌ ‌their‌ ‌only‌ ‌alternative‌ ‌for‌ ‌survival‌ ‌is‌ ‌to‌ ‌desperately‌ ‌craft‌ ‌a‌ ‌life‌ ‌away‌ ‌from‌ ‌their‌ ‌family‌ ‌and‌ ‌home.‌ ‌Many‌ ‌of‌ ‌them‌ ‌face‌ ‌mental‌ ‌health‌ ‌challenges‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌result‌ ‌of‌ ‌trauma‌ ‌or‌ ‌a‌ ‌lack‌ ‌of‌ ‌education‌ ‌because‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌battle‌ ‌of‌ ‌school‌ ‌versus‌ ‌survival,‌ ‌survival‌ ‌will‌ ‌always‌ ‌win.‌ ‌ ‌

Their‌ ‌employment‌ ‌options‌ ‌are‌ ‌often‌ ‌limited‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌result‌ ‌of‌ ‌their‌ ‌unique‌ ‌circumstances‌ ‌and‌ ‌Laurinda‌ ‌recalled‌ ‌her‌ ‌own‌ ‌difficulties‌ ‌in‌ ‌maintaining‌ ‌employment‌ ‌when‌ ‌she‌ ‌herself‌ ‌suffered‌ ‌mental‌ ‌health‌ ‌challenges,‌ ‌especially‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌retail‌ ‌or‌ ‌service‌ ‌landscape‌ ‌which‌ ‌are‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌common‌ ‌jobs‌ ‌for‌ ‌those‌ ‌lacking‌ ‌education‌ ‌or‌ ‌experience.‌ ‌Laurinda‌ ‌therefore‌ ‌devised‌ ‌an‌ ‌art‌ ‌therapy-based‌ ‌employment‌ ‌model‌ ‌for‌ ‌youth‌ ‌that‌ ‌has‌ ‌since‌ ‌seen‌ ‌youth‌ ‌succeed,‌ ‌for‌ ‌once,‌ ‌at‌ ‌maintaining‌ ‌employment.‌ ‌More‌ ‌importantly,‌ ‌this‌ ‌success‌ ‌has‌ ‌translated‌ ‌into‌ ‌increased‌ ‌confidence‌ ‌and‌ ‌self-esteem,‌ ‌so‌ ‌youth‌ ‌can‌ ‌finally‌ ‌see‌ ‌the‌ ‌potential‌ ‌they‌ ‌have‌ ‌always‌ ‌possessed.‌ ‌Confidence‌ ‌and‌ ‌self-esteem‌ ‌have‌ ‌shown‌ ‌our‌ ‌youth‌ ‌artisans‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌capable‌ ‌of‌ ‌achieving‌ ‌anything‌ ‌they‌ ‌set‌ ‌their‌ ‌mind‌ ‌at ‌and‌ ‌it‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌privilege‌ ‌to‌ ‌see‌ ‌them‌ ‌flourish‌ ‌as‌ ‌they‌ ‌begin‌ ‌to‌ ‌once‌ ‌again‌ ‌believe‌ ‌in‌ ‌themselves.‌ ‌

What‌ ‌kind‌ ‌of‌ ‌superpower‌ ‌does‌ ‌your‌ ‌company‌ ‌possess‌ ‌and‌ ‌why‌ ‌we‌ ‌should‌ ‌care‌?

 Our‌ ‌number‌ ‌one‌ ‌superpower‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌ability‌ ‌to‌ ‌truly‌ ‌change‌ ‌not‌ ‌only‌ ‌lives‌ ‌but‌ ‌communities.‌ ‌Our‌ ‌youth‌ ‌artisans‌ ‌have‌ ‌told‌ ‌us‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌have‌ never‌ ‌held‌ ‌a‌ ‌job‌ ‌for‌ ‌this‌ ‌long and‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌finally‌ ‌found‌ ‌their ‌wings‌ ‌and‌ ‌they are‌ ‌learning‌ ‌to‌ ‌fly.‌ These thoughts vouch for the changes we brought to their lives. But it doesn’t stop‌ ‌there‌ ‌because‌ ‌who‌ ‌knows‌ ‌what‌ ‌these‌ ‌single‌ ‌individuals‌ ‌will‌ ‌do‌ ‌within‌ ‌their‌ ‌communities‌ ‌as‌ ‌time‌ ‌goes‌ ‌on?‌ ‌Who‌ ‌knows‌ ‌what‌ ‌impact‌ ‌this‌ ‌one‌ ‌person‌ ‌will‌ ‌have‌ ‌on‌ ‌those‌ ‌around‌ ‌them?‌ ‌That‌ ‌is‌ ‌

the‌ ‌true‌ ‌superpower‌ ‌of‌ ‌Kind‌ ‌Karma‌. ‌By‌ ‌changing‌ ‌individual‌ ‌lives,‌ ‌we‌ ‌are‌ ‌actually‌ ‌creating‌ ‌ripple‌ ‌effects‌ ‌throughout‌ ‌the‌ ‌Canadian‌ ‌community‌ ‌hoping that their ‌positive‌ ‌impacts ‌will‌ ‌hopefully‌ ‌be‌ ‌felt‌ ‌by‌ ‌all.‌ ‌

What are your favorite products/most popular this year?

Our most popular products are definitely the Friendship Necklace and our Morse Code Bracelets!

The Friendship Necklace features two different circle pendants that represent how each of us are unique. We entwined these pendants to show how we complete and enhance each other’s lives despite our differences. This minimalist necklace has been a favorite not only for its story but also for its simple and elegant aesthetic.

 Our Morse Code bracelets have also been a customer favorite since we launched them! These simple bracelets feature tiny gold beads that spell out words in the Morse code such as “love”, “hope”, “strength”, “courage”, and “kindness” with options to create ones with a custom word of choice. The gold beads are set in either semi-precious or precious beads such as moonstone, aquamarine, ruby or sapphire, to name a few. These bracelets are popular because they allow you to carry your own secret message with you, something only you know it says. You can wear your heart’s message on your sleeve.

Minimal Accessories by Kind Karma Company

What are you working on for 2020 and beyond that you want us to know about?

We are so excited for our new products in 2020, especially a new collection of rings fabricated entirely out of recycled silver. We have gotten so many requests for rings that one of our youths has since learned more advanced techniques to make this happen. Look for it soon - we can’t wait!

 

Contributing Author: Bhavya Jha

Author at The Good Tee Bhavya Jha

 


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