A picture of earrings made by Kawami Jewelry.

North Central News

North Central students create unique and socially conscious jewelry company

Kara Kots

Jul 23, 2020

Ambitious students use their skills as entrepreneurs by bringing Colombian jewelry to the U.S.

During a trip to Medellín, Colombia, Maria Clara Ospina '21 fell in love with the bright and bold handmade earrings sold there. It was not long after she returned, she received several questions about the vibrant jewelry she wore. While brainstorming with Marco Antonio Dávila '21, the pair decided to bring the earrings to the United States and introduce them to the greater Chicago area. In May 2019, Kawami Jewelry was born.

When asked to describe Kawami Jewelry in three words, Ospina and Dávila stated, "unique, ethical and beautiful." These words summarize the company's mission, which is to enhance their customers' beauty and confidence while providing a fair wage to the artisans who dedicate themselves to jewelry making.

In May 2020, Kawami Jewelry celebrated its first anniversary, with many more hopefully to come. "This milestone reassured us that we are capable of anything we set our minds to accomplish! We are both extremely passionate, but our passions are quite different from one another,” noted Ospina. “Kawami gave us a space to merge our passions and create something we love, something we can both look at and see the contributions we have made. Seeing Kawami reach its first anniversary was one of the best feelings we have both experienced."

Over a year in business, Ospina and Dávila have encountered a variety of challenges, as well as rewarding experiences. "When you start a business, you put an obscene number of hours in that nobody knows about or sees. Balancing our time has been a challenge with everything outside Kawami,” Dávila explained.

On top of running a business, the two work hard to find time for their studies, on-campus jobs, personal lives, and extra time commitments. Ospina is pursuing theatre while Dávila is a student-athlete. "Finding a balance was hard, but we truly have fallen in love with the beauty of it! It's worth it when we walk around and see someone wearing Kawami, and they're shining with a smile from ear-to-ear,” said Dávila.

Marco Antonio Dávila and Maria Clara Ospina, North Central College students and owners of Kawami Jewelry.

Marco Antonio Dávila and Maria Clara Ospina

Inspiring mentors and newfound confidence help students realize their business dreams

Taking on the role and responsibilities of an entrepreneur is not an easy job. Forging relationships with North Central mentors and finding newfound confidence inside and outside of the classroom helped Ospina realize her dream. "North Central prepared me in ways I did not expect," Ospina expressed. "As a theatre and global studies major, the last thing that I expected was to be a business owner after my four years in college. But that's the magic that happens at North Central. I learned I was capable of following whichever dream I wanted to."

North Central also played a valuable role in preparing Dávila to be the entrepreneur he is today. "As an international student-athlete with a small business management and entrepreneurship major and studio art minor, North Central has provided me with support, constant learning experiences, and great networking opportunities," he said. "I truly appreciate all my classes and all that my professors have taught me."

What's next for Kawami Jewelry? With their senior year at North Central approaching, they will continue to cherish their time in Naperville while taking on new projects to grow Kawami. The two created "Stories Worth Sharing," a blog on their website that shares stories from Kawami's community. With this project, they hope to spark inspiring conversations and form even more lasting relationships. Setting their sights on success, they hope to take Kawami to new heights. 

"After graduation, our goals are to expand our market to Chicago and other cities, and of course, change the world! Growing allows us to create a bigger impact on the lives of our team," said Ospina.  

When asked what advice they would give to future Cardinal entrepreneurs, they stated, "Take advantage of your opportunities! There are always people willing to help, and there is always a way of making things happen. Seek people with different interests in different professional fields, share your story, and surround yourself with what you truly want."

A promotional image for Kawami Jewelry.