As our second birthday approaches, we wanted to take some time to look back and reflect on the accomplishments we’ve made together. For many of us, two years can sneak by in the blink of an eye. For our artisan partners, the accomplishments we’ve made together have created an incredible lasting impact in their own lives, and in the communities.
Our business launched in 2014, working with two small groups in Indonesia. Our initial offerings consisted of jewelry handcrafted with glass beads and carved wood decor. It was an instant hit, we knew we were on to something. These unique styles had just the right amount of flair, story, and positivity. Our customers fell into two distinct, but sometimes overlapping categories: earthy neutrals or pops of color. This was our starting point and gave us the perfect building block from which to grow.
Good work, now what’s next?
Our presence was established and continued to garner attention. Our teams were elated to see our social media followers first surpass 1,000, then 5,000, then 15,000. Our customers had no idea how much voice, impact, and empowerment they were sending to our hardworking groups in Indonesia. Their support directly contributed to our now long-term buying relationships with these marginalized groups, allowing them to create a steady stream of income into their homes and communities.
We were in the perfect position to grow. Our next mission was to search for additional markets to expand the style offerings of our growing business and, in turn, continue to expand our mission to spread hope to other parts of the world.
Next stop: South America
Every small business owner remembers the leaps of faith it took to get them where they are today. Our first “blind leap” was on a trip to South America. We had no contacts, no plan, and nothing but blind optimism. And apparently, that’s all we needed. At a market, we met Elizabeth, and she introduced us to her world of upcycled styles. Her group creates jewelry from eco-friendly materials. We could hardly contain our excitement, we knew we had found our next group of artisans.
Many of the groups we work with are part of the cottage industry, artisans working out of their homes due to personal obligations that sometimes make it difficult to work outside the home. Elizabeth invited us back to her home workshop, we had the pleasure of meeting her two additional women who assisted her with jewelry making. Flash forward to today, Elizabeth’s artisan group has grown to over ten women who now work so many more all-natural materials, like real orange peels, coffee beans, açaí berry seeds, and cantaloupe seeds. As our partnership continues to grow, Elizabeth is able to train and hire more women to work under her guidance. We’re in disbelief how these humble beginnings had flourished into a sustainable network under which Elizabeth and the rest of her group continues to grow.
Although our styles continue to evolve, our mission has remained consistent. We believe they key to long lasting positive change is through compassion, education, and empowerment. We are not a charity, but instead a social enterprise that has provided the tools necessary for success to more than ten groups in rural communities in developing countries around the globe. The purchases by our customers have made sustainable living possible for each of the nearly one hundred artisans in our networks, and the impact continues to ripple throughout their communities and villages. The skills learned, perfected, and passed down are giving renewed hope to this generation, and is setting up the next generation for success.
The steady income earned by our partners goes directly towards food, shelter, education, and gives a hope to people who once may have been marginalized by their own communities. Women often face additional challenges in these often male-dominated cultures. Because men are the primary income earners, many women have no additional options beyond staying home due to the lack of education, lack of skills, or obligation to tend to her children. These entrepreneurship opportunities give these women a platform to stand on, to have a voice, and to play a part in the creation of their own future.
The power of three
As we enter our third year of positive change, we are so absolutely excited for what the future holds. Consumers everywhere are realizing the power of their purchases and realizing the potential impact that can be created when supporting a mission larger than any one of us. The continued support by our customers gives us the power to expand even further than before, and we can’t wait to see where that takes us.