Monday, June 17, 2024

Kaj Expressions Raises Awareness and Hairs at Design Caribbean


Press Release-DesignCaribbean, June 12th-

Belizean jewellery designer Khadija Assales may have raised a few eyebrows with her collection crafted from the tails of the notoriously ravenous Pterois or Lionfish but she was also successful in raising awareness about the devastating effect that the carnivorous species have been having on the aquatic ecosystems of Belize and the rest of the Caribbean region.

Khadija Assales 2

Assales launched her line of Lionfish jewellery as part of the Design Caribbean pavilion during the Calabash Literary Festival in Treasure Beach , St. Elizabeth , Jamaica from May 30th to June 1st. The Design Caribbean project was the brainchild of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in sponsorship of the Calabash Festival. It was conceptualized as a means of showcasing the rich and varied talent which the region has to offer while opening up a new market for the creative entrepreneurs who may not otherwise been able to take advantage of the opportunity which Calabash provides.

Caribbean Export recognized the Calabash Literary Festival as an ideal platform for artists who produce exceptional craft as the festival has been serving this purpose for writers, musicians and visual artists from across the island and the world for the past twelve years. As a result, the festival has become the most elite literary festival and cultural event in the English-speaking Caribbean and it continues to grow in appeal and reach by leaps and bounds each year of its staging. The artisanal plaza, which has become a fixture in the festival’s offerings, presented the ideal setting for a conglomeration of artists from across the region to take Brand Caribbean to the world.

Assales eagerly submitted her application for participation in this venture not only to promote her brand, Kaj Expressions but specifically to drive her awareness campaign forward through her innovative pieces. The entrepreneur not only manipulates the projectile materials and their flattering accents by hand, she has also learned to scubadive and to spearfish specifically to catch the creatures. Her proactive and passionate approach to environmental protection was contagious and she swayed many visitors to her stand to try on the dramatic pieces.

The striking and intimidating appearace of the zebra-striped lionfish does not belie its nature. The species has staged an veritable invasion and cou of many of the region’s reefs, severely impacting the fish populations and, in many cases, endangering certainin species which are not given a chance to procreate and to replenish their populations. In the meantime, the domineering species reproduces at astounding rates, thus aggravating the problem.

This endemic situation has become a topic of national concern in islands likeBelize and Barbados, where interventions have been staged in order to not only raise awareness but to circumvent the effects of the Lionfish’s dominance. Action has been taken by both public and private sector parties in the form of Lionfish spearfishing derbies, cook-offs and informational media production. However, a lot of the societal perception of the fish has yet to bealtered and it is the attitudes of the total populace that must shift before real change can be seen.


About Caribbean Export
Caribbean Export is a regional export development and trade and investment promotion organisation of the Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) currently executing the Regional Private Sector Programme (RPSDP) funded by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Caribbean Export’s mission is to increase the competitiveness of Caribbean countries by providing quality export development and trade and investment promotion services through effective programme execution and strategic alliances.

More information about Caribbean Export can be found at Contact: JoEllen Laryea, PR and Communications, Caribbean Export Development Agency, Tel: +1(246) 436-0578, Fax: +1(246) 436-9999, Email: [email protected]


About Khadija Assales- San Pedro Sun Exclusive

The San Pedro Sun has been following Khadija Assales‘ work for quite some time. With a seemingly endless fount of creativity, Khadija is always adding new pieces to Kaj Expressions, her signature line of handmade jewelry.

Khadija Assales

Originally from the Southern peninsula village of Placencia, Khadija is twenty-seven years old. She is the proud owner of Treasure Box, a jewelry boutique. For Khadija, the craft of jewellry making started early on in her childhood at ten years old. She fondly remembers her summer stays in Sorrento Maine, USA where she fell in love with the art of jewelry making.

So what is it about Khadija’s artwork that has everyone making noise?

Well, as mentioned in the release Khadija is doing tremendous work for Belize‘s reef and marine ecosystems through her line of Lionfish Jewelry. Going the extra mile, even getting certified to dive and learning how to spearfish so that she can capture the invasive species on her own. When asked how she ventured into Lionfish jewelry, a passionate Khadija responded,“ I started making lionfish jewelry because I am passionate about marine conservation! Realizing the damage that lionfish cause on our reef, which is the second largest in the world, I felt compelled to do more with lionfish, which in turn helps to save the reef. Blue Ventures marine biologist, Jen Chapman introduced me to the concept, which I fell in love with and transformed into works of wearable art with a cause.”

For Khadija her experience at Design Caribbean offered her the opportunity to show that Belizeans are doing their part to sustain the reef, the main source of livelihood for Belize. “Being shortlisted to participate in Design Caribbean was an honor and an excellent opportunity to promote not only my line of lionfish jewelry, but more importantly, lionfish awareness and market diversification. I was greatly supported by Janelle Chanona and Oceana, who is keen to support alternative livelihoods and to highlight that consuming delicious lionfish is a great way to give juveniles of traditional fish like snapper a chance to mature! I was most proud to present that Belize is doing its part to help protect the reef not only through the consumption of lionfish which is becoming more popular in restaurants thought out the country, but also by finding alternative uses of the Lionfish which further increases the likelihood of lionfish eradication.”

With the purchase of a single piece of jewelry from her Kaj Expressions‘ Lionfish collection, you aid in getting a Lionfish out of our waters.

Jewelry pieces from Kaj Expressions are available at Treasure Box in Placencia Village, Victoria House in San Pedro and select gift carriers throughout the country and abroad. Those interested in purchasing or carrying Kaj Expressions can do so via facebook at

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