Belart founder, Tulianna Garcés, (pronounced: Gar-says) was born in Santiago de Cali, Colombia, but she has always considered herself a citizen of the world. Her grandmother was Russian and her mother was born in Persia (now Iran) and raised in Austria. Her Spanish-Colombian father was raised in Scotland.
As a child, Tulianna was raised in three continents speaking Spanish, French, English and German. Her parents certainly prescribed themselves to the idea that “[to] understand just one life, you have to swallow the world” (Salman Rushdie).
This eclectic background and the inspiring civic and philanthropic spirit of her parents has aided Tulianna in her life-long mission to seek out ways to use art and culture to improve the lives of displaced and impoverished communities around the world.
In 1985, Tulianna immigrated to the US after the birth of her first daughter, Alejandra. She left behind the increasing violence in Colombia for the peaceful, albeit cold, Vermont countryside, where her mother-in-law, Cecilia was living at the time.
Witnessing the Power of Self Expression
Tulianna, however, never forgot her home in Colombia nor the devastation that more than fifty years of civil war can have on an innocent populace. She worked with local communities and schools in Vermont and New England, teaching everything from fine art to theater and printmaking to children and low-income families. She witnessed first-hand the power and inspiration that can come from giving individuals the opportunity to express themselves.
From Idea to Reality
As she discovered the power and joy of working collaboratively to improve lives through sustainable practices and ideas, Tulianna realized that this was something desperately needed not only in her native Colombia, which has nearly a population of four million internally-displaced people, but also in countries around the world. She sought to start an initiative that would allow for deep collaborative relationships with local artisans. Thus, with the support of her two young daughters, Alex and Dany, and her partner and mother-in-law, Cecilia, Belart was born in 2006.
The Belart Mission: Complete Collaboration
Throughout Belart’s history, it has had many incarnations, but one thing has always remained at its epicenter: Every piece of jewelry from design to production is a complete collaboration.
“All citizens of the world deserve to live safely and at peace.”
Working with local artisans in Vietnam and Colombia that have been displaced by violence, Belart is able to create eco-chic, sustainable and unique jewelry. Each piece, whether it is made of upcycled horn, Wayuu mochilas, vintage lace, eco-resin, fique-agave or the tagua seed plucked from the rainforest, is an impassioned labor of love that has passed through many hands. Belart is dedicated to the idea that all citizens of the world, like Tulianna herself and her family, deserve to live safely and at peace.
Sadly, Tulianna’s partner and mother-in-law, Cecilia passed away in 2008, but her legacy and oeuvre live on. Tulianna’s daughter Alejandra (Alex) joined Belart as a designer and partner in 2010 and created Aleja Jewelry, her own jewelry line.
A True Global Partnership
By its 10 year anniversary, Belart was working with over 12 partner communities in southeast Asia and South America, partnering with more than 800 artisan partners and their families. More than 400 retailers in North America, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe and Japan sell Belart’s jewelry and custom made Fair Trade products.
Through Fair Trade practices and because of Fair Trade, every Belart purchase connects disadvantaged producers to global markets, empowering them while sustaining their livelihoods, their families and their communities’ futures.
Sadly Tulianna’s partner and mother-in-law, Cecilia passed away in 2008, but her legacy and oeuvre live on.
Chinon Williams ("ChiChi") is a fabulous muralist and fine arts artist who has been our lovely muse and inspiration since the inception of Belart. Her artistic sensibility and beauty transcend the photos on these pages and we thank her for her kindness and generosity in collaborating with us all through the years and beyond.
Please check out her art work: Maven Murals www.chinonmaria.com/murals