At 8 months of age, Lovetta Conto fled her native Liberia for a Ghana refugee camp, one of 47,000 men, women and children escaping civil war. At age 14, she left the camp for America through the help of the Strongheart Fellowship program, an organization that helps children in need become leaders in social change.
Lovetta is the designer of Akawelle, a jewelry line made entirely out of spent bullet casings taken from the Liberian civil war. Her jewelry has received rave reviews from Elle, O Magazine, and the Huffington Post, to name a few—and is worn by celebrities like Halle Berry, Hilary Swank, Selma Blair, Mos Def, Angelina Jolie, who calls Lovetta “an inspiration.”
The name Akawelle is a combination of two words: "aka", the English acronym for "also known as", and "welle" the word for "love" in Lovetta’s native language. Each necklace is made from the melted top of the bullet casing and refashioned into a leaf pendant, which is then engraved with the word "Life"; a symbol of the promise of new life arising from even the worst hardships.
The money from Akawelle goes toward Lovetta’s future and the creation of the first Strongheart House, a safe house in Liberia that will offer comfort, security, and eco-friendly education to orphans around the world.
“We’ll have a global family,” states Lovetta. “My brothers and sisters will have different color skin but all one strong heart.”
In 2011 Angelina was featured in some online ads on Akawelle's official site and online and you could also purchase the necklace from there, but it's since been sold out and the site doesn't exist anymore.
- The necklaces are called "Life" and was made with bullets from the Liberian civil war.
“I wear one and my kids have their necklaces… It was an opportunity to teach them about remarkable people like Lovetta, and pass on her message of love and tolerance. She is an inspiration.”
- Angelina Jolie
"I decided to make jewellery with bullets from the Liberian civil war to be able to help young people who had been through the (14-year) war, to provide for them and to raise funds to help improve their future, but at the same time to carry the memories of the people they had lost. I've been amazed by the response and popularity of the necklaces."
- Lovetta Conto