Responsibly Made from the Beginning
Zurina Ketola, originally Zurina Ketola Designs, was established in 2004. From the start, I strongly believed that environmental sustainability and ethical conduct were important parts of running a business.
Even in those early days, I employed techniques to achieve this.
I was disappointed with the environmental impact of fast fashion, and chose to run my brand as an alternative featuring quality materials with a mix of modern and classic details. Branding materials like business cards and tags were made using a less wasteful, water-less printing technique with sustainably farmed trees. As I moved online, I began using I recycled packaging and reusing shipping materials. I’ve also employed standard practices that just made sense, like recycling my precious metal scrap from the very beginning.
There is always room for improvement, and transparency is an important element. With that in mind, here’s a look at what I’ve been up to, and my plans for the future.
Environment + Sustainability: ZKD Guidelines
When I started back in 2004, I began with the three main principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle. In 2019, I officially added two additional concepts: repurpose and revise.
Below is a breakdown of these concepts and how I apply them to have a more sustainable and environmentally friendly small business.
R E D U C E
I’m very intentional about my work. I always have been, and I always will be.
My jewelry is designed with high quality materials, timeless aesthetics, and is meant to last for many years.
My designs are all made in my own studio, and I only release small collections throughout the year.
R E U S E
Not only do I donate old stock, I make an effort to reuse these items in innovative and useful ways.
It’s often the case that leftover materials will remain from previous collections.
These are kept in stock to use for future collections, and other new projects in development.
R E C Y C L E
Not only is mining awful for the environment, it’s both expensive and difficult. Luckily, it’s standard practice for precious metals to be melted and recycled into new raw materials.
I’ve adopted this practice in my own studio, and save precious metal scrap from my work to be sent in for recycling.
R E P U R P O S E
When I moved to Germany in 2018, I donated all materials I no longer use to a Chicago area school with a well developed art program, and took all old design stock with me.
Many pieces still fit in my aesthetic and are available for purchase, and Upcycled Jewelry Workshops are being developed to use the rest!
R E V I S E
As new discoveries are always made in relation to environmental sustainability, it is of the utmost importance to have the ability to be adaptable and flexible.
To ensure both adaptability and flexibility, I revisit and reevaluate my workflow annually to determine where improvements can be made.
Ethical Business Practices + Supply Chain
Currently, I make all the jewelry you see on the site, and plan to keep it this way. From this perspective, I can confirm that your jewelry is made using fair practices.
For the last few years, however, my focus has moved to my supply chain. Since I started sourcing gems back in 2002, one of the biggest concerns for me has always been the social and environmental impact of mining and gemstone finishing. At the time, I came to realize that I’m not able to have as much visibility into these processes as I’d like, but I still want to know from my suppliers: How did this material get in my hands? Was it done safely for workers, and for the environment? Are they provided with fair wages? Am I unintentionally supporting organizations that don’t align with my ideals?
It is notoriously difficult to find this information in this industry. While people often know what country and sometimes region materials originate, I noticed that people just wouldn’t answer more specific questions. It was frustrating, and I came to realize it was often because they just didn’t know. Since I couldn’t get direct answers, I choose to educate myself. To have a better sense, I did research on the sociopolitical and environmental factors regarding the origin of gems I was interested in using. During this time, I would take notes on whether current circumstances might contribute to unethical conduct in the supply chain. For example, I wouldn’t buy materials if my research determined that they originated from a war torn part of the world, or location that was known for poor treatment of workers or particularly bad environmental standards. Definitely not a perfect system, with a lot of guesswork involved, but it was an important step.
My vetting process was a key element in my work, and it meant that I was able to choose suppliers over the years that felt more aligned with my values.
In 2018 and 2019, I began to take stock of all my regular suppliers and reach out to them addressing my concerns. I wanted to see where everyone stood the on environmental and ethical issues most important to me. My goal was to align myself with those in the industry that shared my values. While some suppliers were unable to answer my questions, several were able to confirm their own commitment to the environment, and ethical practices. Some highlights of my persistence?
- My leather supplier not only produces the finest quality leathers in the world, but the dyeing process is environmentally friendly.
- My largest metal supplier is an industry leader in environmental and sustainable practices and they provide metal recycling and sell recycled metal materials.
- One of my favorite gemstone suppliers not only confirmed they are aligned with my ideals regarding sustainability, environmental practices, and ethical business conduct, but they were inspired by my inquiry and commitment. Over our correspondence, they informed me they would be making their own Environmental Commitment Statement on their website in the spirit of transparency.
If my efforts to improve my own standing inspires larger companies that actually work closely with mines within the industry to be more transparent, that’s not only a win for me – it’s win for everybody.
Even though it hasn’t been easy, this alone makes me happy to keep moving forward and improving my own standing.
The Blockchain: I'm a Supporter!
Throughout 2019, I’ve gotten more involved in learning about my supply chain, and how the adoption of the blockchain can benefit everyone in the jewelry industry. It’s implementation can can make huge strides in providing everyone from makers to clients with more accurate information about where their jewelry comes from at every point in the supply chain.
It’s is a revolutionary concept that could be used to promote all the areas that are important to me – environmental standards, ethical business conduct and accountability within the supply chain across the globe. While it’s a complex topic, I recommend learning more about it. If you’re curious, you can find out a little more here!
Work in Progress
My work is still in progress, and I’ll keep current updates regarding my progress on this page.
Current changes on the website from my efforts over the last year include noting all sustainable and ethically sourced materials and products made using recycled materials on product pages in an effort to be more transparent for you.
As I move forward in 2020, I remain committed to working with suppliers that have a strong stance in alliance with the environmental and ethical ideals that you’ve seen me discuss here, and I will officially begin phasing out my work with suppliers who can’t provide transparency on this issue. My hope is that this will shine a light on the issue and encourage change.
If you have any questions or comments for me on the topic of environmental sustainability, or ethical business practices , please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!