kind karma jewellery

This Toronto company is hiring homeless youth to make fine jewellery

A Toronto company is giving job opportunities to homeless and at-risk youth through making jewellery.

Laurinda Lee-Retter started Kind Karma in 2017 from her passion for giving back and creating a positive impact for others.

Lee-Retter tells blogTO she wanted to create a different approach to employment for youth who have faced trauma and are struggling with emotional and mental challenges.

"The problem for youth going through these things is that they don't always have the ability to maintain traditional employment," said Lee-Retter. "With this, we're giving them something to hold onto while also creating low barrier access to employment."

Kind Karma has hired on several youth all ranging in age between 20 to 24. They come in for scheduled shifts and get paid hourly wages to make jewellery sold on the company's website.

Lee-Retter says she finds youth to hire by collaborating with local agencies, such as Covenant House and Yonge Street Mission.

Many of the young people tell Lee-Retter how therapeutic it is to actually make the jewellery, saying it helps them to focus on something else other than their personal issues.

All of the youth work together in the same area, meaning they get a chance to connect with others around their age who are going through similar experiences, says Lee-Retter.

Most of the proceeds made on jewellery purchases go right back to the employees.

Lee-Retter says she has set up a program where youth are able to discuss their life goals when they're first hired and talk about how they want better themselves.

Then, according to those goals, money earned by the youth is used to directly fund things like rent for housing, education, or self-care such as yoga classes or counselling.

Lee-Retter tells blogTO this helps the youth to create structure and teaches them about personal responsibility, as well as how to take care of themselves.

In the future, Kind Karma's founder says she hopes to grow her company even more and start promoting youth to higher positions, something that would normally require schooling in traditional means of work.

"When you're fighting for basic survival, sometimes school isn't going to be your number one priority," said Lee-Retter. "It's nice to know they still have an opportunity to show their abilities despite that."

Lead photo by

Laurinda Lee-Retter 


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