Empowered Artisans · Kanwel Scarf · Pakistan · Uncategorized

Unlocking Freedom in Pakistan

I recently learned of an amazing story from our co-founder Holly that I want to share with you.  It is the story of Kanwel and Mushtaq, a married couple from Pakistan that have been working with women in the slums there since 2005.  Together, they work to share love, light and hope in a community where there is so much persecution and oppression.

Mushtaq & Kanwel of the Pakistan artisan group

Our Co-Founder Holly met Mushtaq at a conference she attended with her husband.   Holly happened to sit next to Mushtaq at the conference and they struck up a conversation.  Holly learned that he was a failed pastor in Pakistan (the Taliban had closed his church) and that his wife Kanwel started a women’s center to teach women to read, write, and sew.  The end goal of the center was to empower women to find skilled work.  However, many women still would end up in the slums making only 7 cents a day.  Even worse, many are bond laborers to land, meaning that they are indebted to the landowner largely due to debt that is inherited.  The families are not free until the debt is paid.  After hearing this story, Holly asked Mushtaq, “Do you know what I do?”  Soon thereafter, Mushtaq learned about Trades of Hope and asked if we could partner with the women’s center to provide a marketplace for these women’s beautiful creations.

Of course, Holly wanted to say “YES!”  However, as Trades of Hope follows Fair Trade principles, we can’t say “YES!” unless there are enough Compassionate Entrepreneurs and sales to support new groups.  In order to say “YES!” to the Pakistan artisan group and Unlock their Freedom, there would need to be more qualified Compassionate Entrepreneurs with Trades of Hope.

Because of the response so far, we have been able to introduce the beautiful Kanwel scarf to our Summer Line of products.  As Trades of Hope adds more qualified Compassionate Entrepreneurs, the products made by the Pakistan group will hopefully grow!  If you would like to be part of this effort, please contact me.



Amazima · Empowered Artisans · Imani Necklace · Katie Davis · Kisses from Katie · Rivers Necklace · Uganda · Uncategorized

Making a Difference in Uganda

Through my work as a Compassionate Entrepreneur, I’ve learned of Katie Davis and the non-profit she started in 2008 at age 19.  Called Amazima (https://amazima.org), the organization is based out of Brentwood, Tennessee.  It seeks to feed, educate and encourage the orphaned, poor and vulnerable in the country of Uganda.  Katie Davis is also the author of Kisses from Katie, a moving memoir that tells her story of moving to Uganda and starting Amazima, while also being an adoptive mother to Ugandan children.

At the beginning of 2010, Amazima Ministries started the Masese Women’s Beading Circle to develop a self-sustaining vocational program for mothers in the Masese community.  The Beading Circle empowers these women and provides hope for their families.  Every week, women spend hours sitting on their banana fiber mats or old wooden stools, surrounded by their children and community members, making paper beads. These beads are made from recycled magazine paper, sealed with a shiny finish and threaded along with tiny glass beads to create handmade, unique, Ugandan necklaces and bracelets.

Because of the Beading Circle these ladies are now able to rely on a steady income, which has allowed them to be able to turn away from work that was harmful and dangerous, such as prostitution, alcohol brewing and trash picking. Through their work in the Beading Circle, they are able to feed their families, send their children to school, purchase plots of land and even build their own homes. Now they are even able to care for others in their communities.

Trades of Hope has a partnership with Amazima and we are honored to carry two necklaces that were made special for Trades of Hope Compassionate Entrepreneurs to sell.  A special video made by Katie is below that shows the difference we are making in Uganda.

I also wanted to share the video below, which shows artisans in the Beading Circle making Trades of Hope necklaces!

I love sharing their beautiful creations, like the Rivers Necklace below, with others as it’s a way to honor them and their communities, while creating an empowering ripple effect here in the US and throughout the world.

The Rivers Necklace, made by Empowered Artisans in Uganda
Acid Attacks · Cambodia · Empowered Artisans · Smoky Stone Ring · The Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity · Uncategorized

Dignity & Hope in Cambodia

I’ve been learning more about the women from the Cambodian artisan group, and wanted to share a little bit about them with you.  The women are victims of what is called an “acid attack.”  Acid is thrown at the victims’ face and body as a form of revenge in such an attack.  This is done because the attacker doesn’t want to kill, but would rather disfigure their victim.  Attackers are usually not brought to justice.  Once a woman is disfigured by an attack, they are immediately not welcomed anymore in mainstream Cambodian society.  Usually they end up living in the outskirts of society; in slums with their children.  Their lives are forever changed.

Trades of Hope has partnered with a group of these women in Cambodia to provide them hope for a future they thought they had lost.  Jariya is the leader of this group, and she has already added many women to her business.  They are so excited for this opportunity.  I’ve included a video below from when our co-founder visited this group – it is clear that their work is giving them a sense of purpose, value, and dignity.

When I wear my Smoky Stone Ring, I can truly appreciate the care that went into making it, and the hope it is providing another woman.

smoky stone ring
Smoky Stone Ring handmade by the Cambodian Artisan Group

For more information on what else is being done to help victims of acid attacks in Camobdia, you can visit The Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC) facebook page here.  The Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC) was established in 2006 in direct response to the lack of services and the limited options for medical treatment made available to acid burn survivors in Cambodia and serves as the primary organization in Cambodia for acid burn survivors.  CASC has four aspects to its work:

1. Surgical, medical, and psychological treatment;
2. Vocational training and social reintegration projects;
3. Legal assistance and advocacy for legal reform; and
4. Awareness raising, research, education and advocacy to eliminate acid violence altogether.

Cherished · Empowered Artisans · New Leaf Earrings · Uncategorized · United States

Out of the Darkness and into the Light: Cherished & Trades of Hope in the US

Through my work as a Compassionate Entrepreneur, I’m learning more about our artisan groups and came across the below video that features Kate, the founder of Cherished, a faith-based outreach and support group in California.  Cherished reaches out to women and victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking.  It brought tears to my eyes to hear about her own experience and how she has been able to help women that are trying to rebuild and reshape their lives.  Please watch and listen to their story…

My New Leaf Earrings have a special place in my heart now that I’ve heard Kate and Linda’s stories!  I’m glad to see we are helping them feel valued, loved, and CHERISHED. Through our partnership, we are empowering these women to be heroes of their own stories with a sustainable income.

Linda’s New Leaf Earrings
Empowered Artisans · Fingerprint Jewelry · Guatemala · Julia Necklace · Uncategorized

“Once someone touches your heart, the fingerprints will last forever.”

Our Julia Necklace, made by artisans in Guatemala

The saying above comes to my mind when I wear our Julia Necklace, which is hand-crafted by a Guatemalan artisan group Trades of Hope is partnered with.  I want to share a little bit about their uplifting story with you in this post.

Their story began when a Compassionate Entrepreneur was on a mission trip in Guatemala. While she was on the mission trip, she met a woman named Clare from Chicago who had recently been on a trip in Guatemala and visited a girl’s safe home. The Compassionate Entrepreneur asked Clare what the plan was for the girls that were about to become adults and too old for the safe home.  There was no plan.

This is where Trades of Hope came into the picture to partner with these girls and give them an opportunity for a better life!  Please click here to watch a video about the impact we are making.

Trades of Hope became this groups’ first wholesale partner, and they were so excited to learn their necklaces would be worn by women in the United States!  Because of this partnership and the dedication of Compassionate Entrepreneurs in the United States, the number of artisans involved in the sewing and jewelry programs has been growing.

One particular necklace that this talented group makes is the Julia necklace (pictured above).  It has a turquoise charm, fresh water pearl and the sterling silver fingerprint of one of the artisans who makes them.

This story has touched my heart in so many ways, and is one of the reasons I am a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope.  Their fingerprint jewelry pieces are a constant reminder of how I am helping improve their lives and leaving a positive impact on the hearts of others.

Apparent Project · Cereal Box Beads · Empowered Artisans · Haiti · Papillon · Uncategorized

The Opportunities Cereal Boxes Create in Haiti

haiti sig braceletOne of the items Trades of Hope carries is the Haiti Signature Bracelet.  It is made primarily of Haitian clay and cereal boxes.  A woman named Shelley Clay is responsible for finding such beauty and opportunity behind something that seemingly had no value.

Shelley is the director of a nonprofit organization in Haiti, the “Apparent Project,” which exists to give job skills to heads of household, usually women, in order to prevent child relinquishment. From the success of the Apparent Project, came the creation of a social business, “Papillon Enterprise”, which translates those new creative skills into sustainable jobs. She runs an artisan center in Port Au Prince, Haiti.  Papillon sells its artisan goods all over the world, including to Trades of Hope.

Shelley wanted to use a material that was inexpensive for the jewelry as she is in the business of job creation.  There was jewelry being made of paper beads in Africa, but she wanted something that would be distinctive to Haiti.  She began playing around with the idea of using cereal boxes, and the idea took off!  Now, her artisan group goes through approximately 400 cereal boxes per day, and each artisan can roll upwards of 1,000 beads per day!!!  Due to the color variation and quantity needed, she had to appeal to people here in the U.S. to get involved, which they have by sending old cereal boxes which otherwise would have been thrown away.

The results have been amazing as well.  Her artisan group makes an average of $15.00 per day versus the $1.00 per day for the average Haitian.  Many are building homes and buying land.  There are also literacy and computer programs, as well as daycare services.  Most importantly, mothers are able to keep their children instead of giving them to an orphanage.

After learning the story behind the Haiti Signature Bracelet, I am so thankful to have the opportunity to wear it and market it as a Compassionate Entrepreneur.

If you would like to watch a video of how the cereal box beads are made, please click here.


Empowered Artisans · Thailand · Uncategorized

How Trades of Hope is Empowering Women in Thailand

group pic w Co-Founder

As a new Compassionate Entrepreneur, I’m enjoying learning about all of the ways Trades of Hope has been able to empower women in difficult circumstances. One story that I found particularly inspiring was that of our Thailand women artisan group.

Recently, Co-Founder Chelsie Antos was able to visit an artisan group there and share these stories and pictures with Compassionate Entrepreneurs.

A woman named Aoi (Pronounced Oyye) started a part of the Thai group. She grew up in a small farming village, but left to pursue business. She ended up coming back because she was passionate about her community. She wanted to give the women in her community an opportunity outside of farming. If they don’t end up farming, many women in her village leave their homes, sometimes without their families, to go work in big cities and to send the money back. Aoi shared that she loved that she can give a creative opportunity to these women while they are able to stay home with their families. She is such an amazing and intelligent business woman.

Noi (Pronounced Noy) is an artisan who makes the Harper Necklace. She is pictured holding up some unfinished necklaces that she had been working on.

Harper Necklace

Toon (Pronounced Tune) is pictured making the Pearls of Hope Necklace. Toon loves making these because she says it requires a lot of patience. When you have a hard day, patience is a wonderful gift. She loves that this job has helped her family and that she can sometimes work from home.

Pearls of Hope necklace

The artisan group has been so successful that they have been able to create a bracelet from which part of the proceeds are donated to an elephant sanctuary. The bracelet is named the Honor Bracelet. Proceeds donated help elephants like Baby Tulu pictured below. Many elephants in Thailand are abused, but this sanctuary has rescued some.

Baby Tulu elephant sanctuary

It’s beautiful and inspiring to know that the artisans have been able to give back to their own community!  After hearing this story, I proudly wear my own Honor Bracelet made by these talented and successful business women.


honor bracelet