Archive | August, 2015

Fall Style Guide – Ethical Essentials

Fall Style Guide

Looking for ethical essentials?

Follow this week’s style guide to compare your favorite brand name pieces with BB products that are actively making an impact around the world!

 

BB AnthropologieAnthropologie $108

BB Kaia BB Kaia necklace $24. Shop here.

Buy your fall statement necklace beautifully, and give back to artisans in Costa Rica.

BB UO Urban Outfitters $18

BB DruzyBB Druzy earrings $18. Shop here.

Add some sparkle to your wardrobe with earrings that support education and vocational training for women in Africa.

 BB NordstromNordstrom $100

BB TuliBB crescent necklace $20. Shop here.

This pop of color makes a lasting impact in Uganda.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 1.27.08 PMNordstrom $48

Tiger eye Tassel necklaceBB Tiger Eye Tassel Necklace $31. Shop here.

Trendy tassels are a must have this fall. Buy yours beautifully, and create sustainable income for a family in New Delhi.

 

Use your purchases to empower others this season!

Shop on Bought Beautifully now.

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Omiyo Jewelry – Giving Hope to Gulu

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1.) Tell us about the history of your organization?

In 2011, a young Ugandan man who had started an organization to support his rural community, was in the computer center in Gulu town, learning to use computers, and hoping to find a way to get a website for his organization. He saw a young man s teaching computers in the center, and felt God telling him to ask that young man for help. That young man was my son Joey, who was doing a college internship at the computer center. They became friends, and Joey made a website for the organization.

A few months later, after Joey returned home, he got an email from his Ugandan friend saying that he wanted to start an income-generating project for women in his community who were learning to make paper beads. He asked if Joey knew anyone who could help him market the beads. At that time, I was manager of a fair trade store, so Joey contacted me, and I agreed to help.

I became very involved with the bead group and the rest of the organization, and visit them yearly. Early on, I realized that while the bead business would help some of the more capable women of the community, there were many other families of orphaned children, headed by old grandmothers trying to earn school fees. Since I belong to a very generous church I suggested we start a sponsorship program for these families in tandem with the bead business. This grew very quickly; we currently have 67 children in the program, which has outgrown our small church.

Sponsorship fees of $20 a month pay for a basic education in rural schools for the children. But we wanted to actually improve the children’s education, and get them into better schools (it’s typical for rural schools to have 100 children in a class, and for teachers to miss weeks at a time, with no substitute).

Initially we called the business Jewels for Schools, and pledged to use as much of the sales to provide the children a better education at Bethel Christian School, which costs quite a bit more than rural schools.  We re-branded this year as Omiyo, which means “Give” in Luo, the tribal language of our Ugandan artisans. Jewels for Schools is now a program of Omiyo.

JackyGrace, Susan, Brenda, Milly

2.) What are some of the trials and triumphs you have faced in bringing your organization to where it is today?

Not living in Uganda is hard as I don’t have much control over product development and shipping is expensive.   I often get a whole shipment of styles that I know I can’t sell, it’s very difficult! The women I work with are extremely poor subsistence farmers, and there is no way for them to know what is in style in the US. The last time I went, I took a lot of samples for them to follow, but it’s hard for them to understand that I want things exactly like this. No substituting green sparkly beads for brass beads, for example. To be fair, it’s hard for a group in the small northern town of Gulu to get supplies. Most bead groups have moved to the capital for that reason, because shipping is easier from the capital, and because it’s easier to just fly to Kampala, and not have to take the grueling eight-hour bus ride to Gulu. But I am committed to working with women and children in Gulu.

The main reason Omiyo exists is not for me to have a booming business, but to help create jobs in this area where unemployment is about 70%. So despite the hardships, I will continue to work in Gulu and the rural communities that surround it.

Also, in 2014 temptation became too much for my Ugandan partner, and he misused donated funds we had been collecting for a school project.  In addition, his wife was the head of the group, and she had quit working with any of the other women, in order to get all the income for herself and her mother.  I had to quit working with both of them.

I was discouraged and thought of giving up the bead business. But there was no way I could abandon the 67 sponsored children. It was a hard year, trying to replace all my former systems with new ones, while struggling with feelings of discouragement. I also have struggled with how to relate to my former partners. They were like family to me, and it is hard to see them and their child suffering with no employment again, as well as rejection from their community, who are angry with them for messing up a good arrangement that really benefited the community. During my last visit, we had a reconciliation mediated by a local pastor, as well as a meeting with some local leaders to work out practical details and let the community know that I have forgiven them.

Bethel Gulu group shot

3.) How have you seen God provide?

God provided me with my Ugandan son, Derrick. He just turned up at my daughter’s wedding two years ago, because he happened to be visiting my son Joey. I asked him to come and live with us, and he has become part of our family. He’s been helpful in so many ways, but especially when things fell apart with my former leadership in Uganda. Derrick is a people person, and had just the right people in his Ugandan circles to provide help in all the ways I needed it: one was able to do a bit of detective work for me on the progress of the school project, another was able to check on some shady money transfer issues through her job. His friends Paul and Diana, both accountants, now pay school fees for me, and his aunt Jacky is now my head bead lady. Through his cousin Kennedy I’m able to communicate with the bead group. Without Derrick, I would not have been able to continue my work. God put him in our lives at just the right time.

Milly and brenda

4.) As an organization what excited about right now?

I am excited by the new artisans I’ve met and started working with this year: Jacky and the other members of RwotOmiyo, who meet together for prayer and mutual support as well as working on beads in Gulu, Uganda. Azucena, who makes earrings of wire and stone from her tiny shop in a mountain town in Nicaragua, and is so excited to help kids in her community go to school. Aracely and Carolina are two Nicaraguan women who collect pine needles and create amazing jewelry like you’ve never seen before.

AzucenaAzucena n kid

Rwot Omiyo group 4x9

5.) We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. What are some of your hopes and goals for 2015? The next three years?

I want to expand my markets, to provide more income for these women. I’d like to get products into more stores, as I find that handmade products do best when people can see and touch them, and the nature of paper beads is that each one is unique, so it’s difficult to sell from a picture. I’d also like to find a gift shop or shops in an area with a lot of pines, where I can market the pine needle jewelry. Maybe this year or next, I’d like to try a trade show. And I’d like to spend more time in Uganda.

We are so amazed by the work the Lord has done through Omiyo – even in the midst of such turbulent times – and are blessed to be able to play a small role in such an awesome ministry.

You can play a role too! Support Omiyo by shopping here.

 

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CAUSEGEAR – Accessories for Human Justice

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Tell us about the history of your organization?

CAUSEGEAR began in 2011 as a vision of Brad Jeffery. Beginning with a mission trip to Mexico, Brad became increasingly aware of global poverty. In the fall Brad visited with pastors and business leaders in Ethiopia and Kenya. He noticed that many living in poverty had skills, but lacked access to a sustainable marketplace. While walking through the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Brad had a vision:

What if a one to one relationship could be created between the fortunate few and the marginalized many in the poorest regions of the world through the purchase of high-quality, handmade, market-relevant fashion supporting dignified jobs for poorest on the planet? And what if each “crafter” was paid enough to take control of their lives and provide essential family needs (shelter, food, clean water, clothing, and medical)? Creating a relationship that provides tangible, sustainable life change, and a chance to break the cycle of poverty and slavery.  Not a hand-out, but an investment in the well being of others who don’t have the same opportunities we enjoy in the U.S.

After sharing his vision with friends, Brad moved forward with founding CAUSEGEAR.

Since 2011, the CAUSEGEAR brand has grown and faced many unique challenges. God has constantly provided the needed resources, as well as answers to the difficult questions that arise within a social enterprise.

What are some of the trials and triumphs you have faced in bringing your organization to where it is today?

One of CAUSEGEAR’s goals is to show others a sustainable business model that provides dignified wages and high-quality products. CAUSEGEAR has faced many challenges with respect to logistics. This year in particular, we have been faced with production and shipment delays. CAUSEGEAR and our partners in India are committed not only to providing quality jobs, but also ethical business practices. In many contexts bribery is a tempting shortcut that we must combat.

With regards to the big-picture, we are working to change an industry that has become comfortable with low prices at the cost of cheap labor. This is not an easy task.

Causegear infographic

How have you seen God provide/move/blow your mind? Any testimony to His greatness would be perfect here.

God has continued to provide opportunities to partner with other businesses and organizations that share our vision. It is through our partnership with The JUSTICE Conference that we developed a relationship with Bought Beautifully.

As a social enterprise, we are constantly reminded that we cannot do everything on our own. God has reminded us at many points that He is in control of all things.

As an organization what are you excited about right now?

We are excited to see a growing awareness among Western consumers. Many are realizing that low prices in the store often trace back to low wages and inhumane working conditions in the factory. We believe this growing awareness will eventually lead to lasting changes within the industry as consumers demand better working conditions.

Causegear Canvas Tote

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. What are some of your hopes and goals for 2015? The next three years?

We are excited to be adding a new team of crafters this year. As CAUSEGEAR grows, we are able to provide more opportunities for our crafting teams. We hope to reach a level of production that allows for more full-time positions to be made available to our current crafters.

We are also excited to expand the variety of products we offer.

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We have been exponentially blessed by CAUSEGEAR’S heart to see justice brought to life around the world. What an honor it is to work with such amazing men and women of God!

You can support CAUSEGEAR in their mission to create sustainable, dignified work by purchasing their products here.

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