Akola, the Dallas-based nonprofit jewelry and accessories brand, has a new home base. The flagship store has relocated from Deep Ellum to Snider Plaza. The first day of business was October 22.
Brittany Merrill Underwood started Akola in 2006 to provide a viable work source for women in Uganda, a cause she had become passionate about as a student at SMU. In 2014, after the jewelry had been picked up by hundreds of boutiques nationwide, she fulfilled a dream of opening a storefront in Dallas.
In Snider Plaza, shoppers can still expect jewelry made from paper, glass beads, horn, and hand-cast metals, as well as hand-woven textiles; prices range from $10 to $200. The new location also carries Akola’s new contemporary line, handmade in Dallas, which features materials such as silk-knotted beads, gold discs with 14-karat gold plating, and gemstones for a more refined aesthetic. As it was with Deep Ellum, 100 percent of net proceeds to Akola’s development projects in Uganda and Dallas.
“We are thrilled to open the Snider Plaza location and ultimately enhance our efforts empowering women to transform their lifestyles and support their families,” says Underwood in a release. “Highland Park is where Akola was born, while I was at SMU, so it’s the perfect home for us.”
The social enterprise also recently partnered with Neiman Marcus to create a line exclusive to the luxury retailer. The Neiman Marcus collection comprises pieces made with gemstones, rough crystals, and sparkly druzies to support higher wages for women here in Dallas. Gray labradorite, white lace agate, peach druzy, ethically sourced horn, and aquamarine gemstones adorn many of the pieces, which start at $105.
To date, Akola, which translates to “she works,” has empowered over 500 women to transform the lives of 4,000 children in poverty. The company has built three training centers and drilled 23 water wells in Ugandan villages. Akola’s aim is to become the most impactful brand in the world, enabling women in disadvantaged communities to design their own stories.