All her life Maria Valenzuela has created things with her hands. So it was a natural move when she discovered that, due to language barriers, she couldn’t continue her career as a Chilean journalist, she turned to her other passion – jewellery design. She returned to Chile in 2014 and took part in a traditional jewellery workshop in the city of Rancagua, learning to work with aluminium, a flexible allergenic material that looks like silver, and other high quality Chilean materials such as copper and lapis lazuli. Today Maria sells her pieces in boutiques around Melbourne and on online. Through Kelkay Jewellery, meaning necklace in the Indigenous Chilean language, she also offers jewellery-making classes and workshops.

Maria Alejandra now lives in Melbourne, which she sees as the ‘city of opportunity’ for her young family, with its endless education opportunities and safety. She misses her family, friends, social life and Spanish-speakers in Chile. She also misses the traditional Chilean food. But now in Australia, she is enjoying learning new things, including English, and pouring her love into making unique jewellery.

Global Sisters was introduced to Alejandra through her connection with our community partner Stepping Stones to Small Business. Stepping Stones is a Brotherhood of St Laurence initiative that offers support to women from refuge, migrant and asylum seeker backgrounds who want to use their skills to start a business to support themselves.