Kpelle Design creates inspiring women's jewelry with roots in West Africa

WILMINGTON -- "It's very important to know where you come from," says Gwanyan Gwen Barker.

The first-generation Liberian-American has always admired her parents, who emigrated from the West African country three decades ago. So, when she started her own jewelry business, she made sure to represent their heritage in every creation.

"The name of my business is Kpelle Design," Barker says. "It is a tribe in Liberia, my father's tribe, my tribe, where they are known as agriculturalists, so they work with their hands."

Across the world, Barker using her hands to craft jewelry in Bear, Delaware.

"It's almost like an ode to my ancestors," my heritage, she said.

However, Barker realizes that others may not be able to pinpoint their heritage as easily.

"We know there's a lot of Black Americans that don't know where they come from," she said. "And so, that's what I want people who wear my jewelry to feel. Feel like this is familiar, like this feels like home."

Kpelle Design showcases earrings made from Cowrie shells that populate the shores of Liberia.

Larger, hoop-shaped earrings depict empowering messages that Barker wants other women to hear.

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