AHF Star: Phyllis Kurzer

“This work has given me so much, and provided me with a passion and motivation that drives me every day.”

Phyllis Kurzer is a champion of STOP Girl Trafficking and a true gem. The Connecticut-based yoga teacher and artist has been putting her flair for design to work keeping girls from being trafficked. She has already helped more than 500 girls stay in school and safe.

How long have you been making malas?

I made my first mala in January of 2014. After completing yoga teacher training I wanted to wear a mala to enhance the spiritual connection I found in my practice. I purchased a typical mala with a tassel. After wearing it for a few weeks, the tassel was ratty and not looking too pretty. I’m an artist and decided to make myself a mala with a pendant that would be more enduring. I learned the anatomy of a mala and the skill of hand-knotting online. I then found a hand-crafted prayer box and prayer wheel pendant from Nepal, and created two malas for myself. The interest those two malas generated became the business Karma Mala.

Phyllis pairs each mala with semi-precious stones and hand knots between each bead—a meticulous process that is true to tradition.

What drew you to Project STOP Girl Trafficking?

When I realized that the malas I was producing could become a small business, I decided I wanted to donate all profit to a charitable cause.  I did research for charities while wearing the first mala I made. It was as if it was meant to be, because within five minutes I came upon AHF’s website. As I read about STOP Girl Trafficking, with tears streaming down my face, I knew I found the cause I would be supporting. I called Norbu [Tenzing] the next day and established a partnership.

My goal has been to donate at least $100 per mala sold so that each purchase keeps a girl safe in the SGT program for one year. Since I began doing this work, I have donated over $52,000 to SGT. This work has given me so much, and provided me with a passion and motivation that drives me every day.

What kind of materials do you use in making malas?

I have two lines of malas: wrist wrap malas, and gemstone necklaces. I select authentic gemstones with healing/metaphysical properties, and include a description of those properties for each design. I am drawn to pendants with tribal/spiritual/talisman qualities. Many of my pendants (as well as some metal beads) are hand-crafted in Nepal, which completes the circle of support—buying Nepali-made items and donating all profit from what I sell to support vulnerable girls in Nepal. I am a one-woman business, so I do all the sourcing, designing, creating, and selling.  

Do you have a favorite mala?

It’s so hard to choose, but I’d have to say that first mala that I was wearing with its prayer box from Nepal when I found AHF and SGT that first day. It’s Red Aventurine, Labradorite and Quartz Crystal. Aventurine is a very positive stone of prosperity, vitality and creativity. It promotes compassion and empathy. Labradorite is a highly mystical and protective stone that raises consciousness and connects with universal energies. Quartz is the most powerful stone for amplifying energy. It works at a vibrational level attuned to specific energy requirements of the person needing healing or undertaking spiritual work.

Learn more at www.karmamala.com

Photo credit: Julie Bidwell & Phyllis Kurzer