For the month of June, the U.S. Embassy in Belize is excited to feature Khadija Assales as our Young Belizean Entrepreneur!

Khadija Assales brings a whimsical and imaginative essence to her jewelry popularly known as Kaj Expressions. Her innovative, high-concept designs constantly step out of the traditional jewellery scope, utilizing unusual forms and materials. She finds much inspiration in the enchanting nature of the gem stones, sea glass, and lionfish which she uses to bring her ideas to life.

Though most popularly known for her signature customized handmade name chains in her home land of Belize, KAJ clearly remembers the days when this was the furthest thing from the case. She was a young mother of two when she started her business, Kaj hurdled along the entrepreneurial track by participating in every event that came up, even if it meant travelling hours on the bus with her babies to be able to sell just a few pieces of jewelry at shows like the EXPO. She recalls struggling with heavy suitcases in the sweltering sun in San Pedro in hopes of getting into Victoria House after being discouraged by other resorts who didn't care to see what she had to sell. A gracious offer of fresh orange juice and to display her jewelry at Victoria House is how Janet Woolam helped Kaj to keep pushing forward through the trials and tribulations she had been facing as a young entrepreneur.

The hardships of those earlier years is what would have motivated her to keep fighting to realize her vision of creating a better life for herself as well as other women who she dreampt of inspiring to be self-sufficient and independent through creativity. KAJ now drives a team of 8 phenomenal women who work hand in hand at Kaj Expressions and through it all, she maintains her belief that nothing worth doing will ever come easy, but that in order to succeed, you must make it an everyday practice to surround yourself only with people who will never stop fanning your flames. "I've been blessed to have encountered real-life angels along my journey just when the road seemed to have been paved with shards of glass.

Therese Jonch was an angel along the way. The Flemmings at Chaa Creek were angels along the way. Dasha Shivers (Hatchet Caye), Janet Woolam, Aline and the Habibs, Hamanasi, Jenny Woods (Tropic Air) have been angels along the way as well as Jalima, Kate, Lorcia, Nicole, Rebecca, Jen Chapman, Phil Karp and Burga Pattinson.

My parents, especially my mother and my sister Ashanti, my daughters and son have been angels. Every person who has shown us support over the years are our angels along the way and we will be forever thankful for the blessings of all our real-life angels.

Kaj Expressions main studio is located on Main Street, Placencia and has recently expanded to the popular main street Burns Avenue in San Ignacio.