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#WisteriaXAkola: A Giveaway for Good

Want a chance to win items featured in our Akola Home photoshoot? The sweepstakes lasts through Tuesday, June 12. You can learn more about how to win HERE.

Since the days when Wisteria was merely an idea that Andrew and Shannon Newsom were dreaming of, they had a desire to share the unique treasures they found around the globe with others. At the same time, they also wanted to find a way to help make the world a better place—Wisteria reflects their aspirations to be good people and do good work. Early on they recognized they needed to surround themselves with creative minds to help them develop the best products and unique designs that couldn’t be found anywhere else.

This passion for bringing together philanthropic efforts and beautiful, unique treasures is what inspired the collaboration with the Akola Project. Akola was founded by Wisteria's friend, Brittany Merrell Underwood, who was moved to compassion after traveling to Uganda for a mission trip and meeting a Ugandan woman named Sarah who cared for 24 street children in her home. Compassion escalated to action as Brittany founded a nonprofit to construct an orphanage home to house children who slept on Sarah’s floor. Upon graduating college, Brittany moved to Uganda to begin the construction of the orphanage and the drilling of over 20 water wells throughout the country.

Today, Akola, through partnerships with Wisteria, Neiman Marcus and others, is a thriving, growing, 100% impact business. Wisteria is a proud supporter and partner of Akola, and we are excited to launch a new and exclusive collection: Akola Home. We're celebrating this launch with a giveaway of products from the Akola Home photoshoot valued over $1,800! Here are some of the items you could win:

Rajasthani Pergola Tent

This is an authentic outdoor tent and serves as a perfect place to host your next intimate gathering. Set the scene for an afternoon picnic, a magical birthday party, or a romantic dinner for two by stringing white lights around the exterior, or hanging a dramatic chandelier in the center. The interior is white cotton, with a stunning blue design on the ceiling that has been hand block-printed.

Striped Pillows Covers

Akola's pillows are not only cushy and comfortable, but also unique and luxurious. Each is completely handmade, from weaving and dying the cotton to applying each little detail, even down to the signature, bronze Akola logo.

Ivory Napkins

Handcrafted from sturdy, 100% cotton, these handsome dinner napkins are understated, yet elegant.

Placemats with Tassels

Hand-woven from raffia and cotton, these placemats stand out among the other place-settings as an extraordinary and space-changing treasure.

Horn Vase & Coasters

Made from the found horns of the Ankole longhorn cattle, these vases and coasters create a sculptural element in your space.

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Akola Collar Hex Necklace

Signature hand-rolled Karatasi paper beads with an exclusive Akola gold hexagon pendant create this beautiful statement piece.

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Mae & Nico Earrings

For this collection, Akola trained and employed women in Uganda to dye and braid raffia, which is then used to wrap beads and create tassels, such as the ones used in these playful earrings.

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Zoya Bracelet

Hand-rolled Karatasi paper beads and gold discs form each piece. Every bracelet purchased allows a family a day of rent and utilities in Uganda.

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GAIA & Wisteria


In a unique partnership with GAIA Empowered Women and Orphan Outreach, Wisteria brings you an exclusive line of handcrafted pillows, available only at our Dallas store. Each pillow in the collection is a “one-of-a-kind.”

The unfolding of the collection began when our co-founder, Shannon Newsom, traveled with Orphan Outreach to Guatemala in June. Orphan Outreach is one of Wisteria’s nonprofit friends and seeks to  glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by ministering to orphans around the world by meeting spiritual, physical, emotional and educational needs.

img_2476One afternoon, while on a short break from ministry at one of the children’s homes, Shannon and a few friends milled around town and discovered two ladies, both “abuelas,” with some beautiful Guatemalan fabrics from the surrounding mountain villages. Delighted, Shannon talked with the women and picked out her favorites.  Filling a huge empty duffle that had been used to bring ministry supplies to Guatemala, the fabrics made their way back to Dallas and into the hands of the wonderful women at GAIA.


GAIA creations  are handmade by resettled refugee women in Dallas using vintage, artisan-made, & sustainable materials.  GAIA’s mission is to empower marginalized women through employment, encouragement, and dedication to their long-term success in our own local communities.  

For the Wisteria collection, two women, Huda and Buthina, with design inspiration from GAIA director, Lauren Jarrett, and founder, Paula Minnis, lovingly laid out and created these amazing pillows.

At Wisteria, we like to call this collaboration – the “virtuous cycle,” whereby each of our pieces brings to you, our customer, the story and meaning behind its creation.  At Wisteria, we believe every home tells a store;  that each piece should have personal meaning to express you and your unique style.  We hope you love these amazing pillows as much as we do.

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Nonprofit Friend: Akola Project


Akola Project is a nonprofit with a mission-driven jewelry business that empowers women to uplift their families out of poverty. Seeing a pressing need at home and abroad to empower women—whose potential to become strong caretakers and community leaders has been unrealized due to their marginalized status—Akola provides approximately 450 women in Uganda and Dallas with the training, work, and holistic programs to transform the well-being of almost 4,000 dependents and 9 communities.

After spending a summer in Uganda in 2004, Brittany Merrill Underwood founded an organization to build an orphanage in 2006. Once the orphanage was complete in 2007, Brittany launched the Akola Project in efforts to revive the livelihood of women and their families through economic development.

The Akola Project spends years training women, who would otherwise have no opportunities, to become artisans of jewelry and accessory design. Through this effort, poverty-stricken women in rural Ugandan villages are able to support themselves and their dependents—transforming each individual life. In Uganda, Akola members are challenged by factors such as rural poverty, decades of civil war, HIV/AIDS, and gender inequality, while Dallas members struggle to integrate into the mainstream workforce due to former experiences such as sex-trafficking and incarceration. Akola offers the training, work opportunity, and support system that empower the women to rise above poverty and create sustainable change for their children and within their communities. By investing in the whole woman, not just her economic livelihood, Akola enacts a ripple effect that can break the cycle of poverty for an entire family.

We are proud to announce that since our last feature, Akola has begun construction on a third academy, located in eastern Uganda.

We would like to partner with you, our customer, in an effort to provide necessary resources for Akola Project to continue their endeavors. On January 10, 2016, Wisteria will Give 10% of your entire purchase to Akola Project and you will Get 10% off your purchase. Use promo code AKOLA2016 at checkout. Help out!

To learn more or make a donation of your own, visit

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  • Hidaya

    Wow. This project sounds very inspiring and I’m glad to see Wisteria propel the Akola mission.

  • Hidaya

    Wow. This project sounds very inspiring and I’m glad to see Wisteria propel the Akola mission.