Roaring Fork Roots: Two Organizations Working Together Toward a Cause

Taylor and Tessier and Action in Africa, two businesses founded in Aspen, Colorado, have teamed up to produce a one-of-a-kind jewelry line that directly benefits families in need in Uganda, Africa. The collaboration is a testament to the power of local businesses working together toward a cause. 

Taylor Tessier, co-founder of Taylor and Tessier, and Sarah Nininger, founder of Action in Africa, have strong ties to the Roaring Fork Valley, a local term used to describe the quaint mountain towns located between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. They first met at Basalt High School and ended up joining the same dance team. They were young, but their entrepreneurial spirits were already starting to show. 

“I remember seeing Taylor in the hallway at school sharing a new pair of earrings she had made,” Sarah said. “She was always creating something.” 

Taylor’s zest for creating jewelry continued. She married Adam Tessier in her early 20s, and, combining her creativity and his business skills, they grew their handmade jewelry line, Taylor and Tessier. Sarah, who has always been passionate about nonprofit work, founded Action in Africa 15 years ago. Her organization funds a thriving community center in Nakuwadde, Uganda, providing access to life-changing resources such as food and education for roughly 500 families and 2,000 children in surrounding schools. 

When the pandemic hit, Action in Africa had to temporarily close its community center and shift its efforts to emergency response relief for families. At the time, Adam and Taylor had been looking for ways to help those in need. Knowing that Action in Africa has roots in the Roaring Fork Valley, Adam decided to reach out to Sarah.  

“Our generation is not just about our work and making a profit—we want to feel that what we create is meaningful and has an impact on the world,” Adam said. “That’s’ what gets us excited every day. Making the world a better place is something you will never look back and say, ‘I wish hadn’t done that!’”

After an encouraging discussion with Sarah, Adam and Taylor took one of their best-selling pieces, the Loved Necklace, added a 14-karat sidebar with the word “Africa,” and dropped the price. For each necklace sold, $35 goes directly toward a COVID-19 relief kit equipped with food, soap, hand sanitizer, and more, for a family in need in Uganda. To date, the kits have aided more than 2,000 people. 

“Initially, people in Uganda weren’t as worried about COVID-19 as they were about the risk of starvation and taking care of their families,” Sarah said. “We quickly brought in local government officials to guide us on our kits. It’s one of my proudest initiatives yet.” 

The collaboration opened up the door for a larger conversation on how Taylor and Tessier and Action in Africa can partner long-term. Next on the list is shifting the funds to a women’s support group, held at the Action in Africa community center every Friday to help women save money, start businesses, and support their families. The program currently serves roughly 120 women. 

Why are Taylor and Adam passionate about this next cause? Because women, Taylor says, are everything. “We are the future and we keep the foundation whole. We are the voice of community and together we have the strength and caring to support the world,” Taylor added. “We want to empower women so that they can give the world what they are already naturally capable of.”

The Roaring Fork Valley is a hidden gem in many ways, from the charming towns nestled in the mountains to the local organizations and businesses who are partnering in unique ways to have a true impact in the world. If Taylor and Tessier and Action in Africa’s first collaboration is any indicator of their future partnership, it’s looking bright. 

Visit Action in Africa to learn more about their amazing organization.