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The Woods Academy

Where curiosity and confidence thrive.
The Fine Art of Giving Back
Catherine Heming (2015)

During the summer of 2016, my friend Annie and I took a summer engineering course at the TechShop in Arlington, VA.  It was there that we were introduced to the art and science of metal clay jewelry.  We fell in love with the creativity required to design the jewelry, the scientific process of firing the clay to fuse the metal, and the final steps of polishing and refining each unique piece. It was the perfect combination of years of fine art training with Mrs. Taverner, the chemistry from 7th-grade science with Mr. A, and the practical life skills gained from my Montessori Preschool days.

After we finished the class, we gave away the designs as gifts to people who were as excited to receive these pieces as we were to create them. Witnessing the joy people experienced from the jewelry gave Annie and me the idea that we could turn this hobby into a viable business.

Starting Katangense

We researched our start-up costs, which included the purchase of a kiln. We also decided that moving forward, we would donate a portion of our proceeds to the charity PACT, and their Mines to Market program. The money we donated would help support mining communities in Africa and South America, which provided some of the raw materials for the metal clay that composed our jewelry.

We investigated many organizations, but Mines to Market’s program resonated the most with us. It has a broad reach and a boots-on-the-ground mission to improve the lives of miners and their families. Their charitable actions include building bridges, schools, and medical centers; enforcing safety; and ensuring metals that are mined are conflict-free. Supporting this organization was the easiest decision of all for us.

With that, Katangense, our Mines to Designs Company, was born – The Fine Art of Giving Back to African Mining Communities through the Sale of Hand-Crafted Copper Jewelry.

In April 2017, we had the opportunity to attend the Lead Like a Girl Conference hosted by Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. We won 3rd Place in the Entrepreneurship category for the Katangense Business Plan that we submitted and exhibited at the Business Fair.

Why We Give Back

Before being invited to speak at Upper School Chapel at The Woods Academy in the spring of 2017, I never considered what we are doing with Katangense to be significant.

I am a Woods lifer and a recent graduate of Stone Ridge. My experiences at both of these schools have taught me the importance of giving back, even if it is in a small way. It was only after having several people tell me what I am doing is amazing that I have realized the significance of our business. The encouragement from our friends, families, and the community inspires and motivates us toward greater success. As I reflect back on this experience and how it is unfolding, I know that without the inspiration I received from The Woods community during my presentation at US Chapel, the story I am sharing with you today would remain untold.