Our Story

How an ebony mill in Cameroon inspired our line of socially responsible kitchenware products

It Started with Fine Musical Instruments

Stella Falone was established by Bob Taylor, the co-founder of Taylor Guitars, an industry-leading acoustic guitar manufacturer whose guitars are played by artists from U2’s The Edge to Taylor Swift. In 2011, Taylor Guitars became the co-owner of Crelicam, a small ebony sawmill in Yaoundé, Cameroon, which produces ebony parts for high-end musical instruments. For centuries, instrument makers have used dark ebony wood for fingerboards on violins and guitars, along with piano keys. Taylor’s goal in owning the mill was to create a more socially responsible value chain for ebony musical instrument components.

From Fingerboards to Cutting Boards

In the process of cutting ebony for musical instrument parts, there are pieces that don’t fit the precise specifications for a guitar or violin, but whose exotic beauty and durability make them wonderfully suited for other types of products. As a longtime lover of food, cooking and quality kitchen products, Bob Taylor was inspired to use some of this ebony to develop a line of kitchen woodcrafts, starting with cutting boards. 

“I particularly love the idea of kitchenware products because of the way that food, like music, brings people together,” Bob says.

Premium Woodworking Craftsmanship

The ebony selected for each Stella Falone product is cut and processed at the Crelicam mill in Cameroon, but the manufacturing process is completed on the campus of Taylor Guitars in California. This allows Stella Falone to leverage Taylor’s sophisticated manufacturing resources to produce kitchenware that meets the highest standards of quality and durability. 

While the Stella Falone brand was only introduced in 2018, each kitchen product is backed by over 45 years of Taylor’s widely recognized woodworking and craftsmanship expertise.

Improving Lives in Africa

Over the years, the Crelicam mill has experienced steady improvements that include upgraded working conditions, higher-quality tools, and increased skills training. Stella Falone has shown great potential to further enhance the lives of Cameroonians by providing a market for high-quality kitchenware, which supports the value-added ebony work done at Crelicam. 

This increases the economic value of each ebony tree and supports steady jobs with higher wages. The end result is greater prosperity and hope for Cameroonian families and the surrounding community.

Replanting Ebony for the Future

The ebony supply in Cameroon is carefully controlled by government-issued permits. As a result, no additional trees are cut to make Stella Falone products; all items are crafted using appropriate pieces already at the Crelicam mill. But our goal for ebony goes further than using ebony responsibly — we want to preserve ebony for future generations. 

This has led to an innovative partnership with the Congo Basin Institute, an extension of UCLA based in Yaoundé. The collaboration has produced a groundbreaking community-based ebony replanting program that’s on track to plant 15,000 ebony trees by the end of 2020.

Your Purchase Matters

When you purchase Stella Falone kitchenware, you can count on several things: a truly unique presentation piece that will reliably serve you for many years; the knowledge that you are helping to transform lives in Cameroon by supporting steady jobs with living wages; and the awareness that you are also supporting the replanting of ebony for a more sustainable future.