To be honest with you, there are days when it feels hard to connect with the suffering taking place in in the world.
Countries plagued with civil wars, villages stuck in the cycle of poverty, women and children abandoned in many parts of the world…the list goes on and on. And it’s incredibly heartbreaking.
My tiny world in Twin Cities’ suburbia seems a long distance away from the suffering in so many third-world countries. That distance—that isolation—can make it easy to forget about those people and their ever-present nightmares. Unless their circumstances are boldly splashed across my newspaper or trending on my Twitter feed, I’ll hardly think about them.
And that’s a major problem.
For me, at least.
So I’m working on finding more ways to shrink the world—to eliminate that feeling of isolation and take steps to help alleviate the world’s suffering. In whatever small and ordinary ways I can.
One way to help is to financially support organizations that are “on the grounds,” working to bring freedom and opportunity to places where all hope feels lost. How awesome would it be to know that every item in your jewelry box was handmade from recycled materials (meaning less waste in this world) by a woman who is earning a fair wage for her craftsmanship and receiving health care, an education, and money to provide for her family? How amazing would it be to know with confidence that the necklace you wear every day to work was made by a woman who was rescued from sex-trafficking and is now able to start a new life getting the help that she needs? Or how about simply feeling confident that the bracelet you love wasn’t assembled by a five-year-old in Indonesia but was handcrafted by a woman making enough money to save for her family’s future?
I want that. I’m sold. I want to support those brands.
Here is a list of 5 socially conscious jewelry lines that are doing some amazing things for people in different parts of the world. I’m so dang excited to share these brands with you and the work they’re doing. And you’ll be amazed at how beautiful their pieces are.
The mission of 31 Bits is to use fashion and design to “empower people to rise above poverty.” The name “31 Bits” combines the message of Proverbs 31 (which describes a diligent woman providing for her family) with the “bits” of paper from which their signature beads are made. The company not only employs women who have suffered in war torn Uganda, but they also assist those women in other areas such as “financial sustainability, physical/mental wellness, social support, and community impact.”
31 Bits also partners with skilled artisans in Bali, a place of the world where cheap labor, child labor, and unsafe working conditions is the norm. 31 Bits allows these families from Bali to work in healthy conditions, provide for their families, send their kids to school, and put money into savings.
There are so many beautiful pieces in the 31 Bits collection. As a mama myself, I was drawn to this darling “Mama” necklace, handmade in Bali (I’m wearing this necklace in the pictures above). Their beautiful beads, like those in this “Voyager” necklace, are all handmade in Uganda and made from recycled paper. Their sweet “Bitsies” Kids Jewelry Kit would make a perfect birthday gift.
Like 31 Bits, Tuli is a fair trade company making jewelry beads that are handmade in Uganda. Part of their mission to end poverty in Ugandan communities is to equip community members and invest in those communities for long-term change. Tuli refuses to offer temporary relief or short-term aid. Instead, they work to “empower resourceful, hard-working people in Uganda to earn long-term, sustainable incomes and, in doing so, fight poverty.”
“Tuli” comes from one of the languages in Uganda (Lugandan) and means “we are.” Tuli’s emphasis on community and unity for the women in Kampala is something that should not only be admired but also supported. They have a beautiful “wedding” collection, like this delicate “Ali” necklace, as well as a more casual collection of rings, bracelets, and necklaces.
You can view more from their shop HERE.
The Base Project employs artisans from Northern Namibia, a part of Africa suffering from a lack of education, rampant unemployment, little to no healthcare, poor access to food and water, as well as the spread of HIV. Their beautiful up-cycled bracelets are made from discarded plastic pipes that are collected, carved, and hand-cut. Not only does The Base Project employ these artisans, but they also introduce them to basic business education so that they might have the skills to “sustain, sell—and grow—at a greater capacity than ever before.”
The Base Project reinvests the proceeds from their jewelry sales back into the community that created them, as well as fund a number of different community development initiatives that work to provide access to clean water and education for these communities.
The designs for each bracelet is inspired by the region in which they are created: wildlife, landscape, and the rich tribal history. From gold and silver bracelets (like this “Deadvlei” silver or this “Oryx” gold tone), to more earthy colors (such as the “Kavango River” or the “Herero Headdress” cuff), The Base Project’s jewelry is definitely worth checking out. You can do so HERE.
Raven + Lily is a Benefit Corporation that was named the “Best for the World in Community Impact in both 2014 and 2016. Most of the women employed at Raven + Lily are considered “at-risk” women: trafficked, HIV+, previously homeless, or suffering in oppressive situations.
In order to help these women, Raven + Lily employs over 1,500 women in economically-challenged countries (such as Pakistan, India, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Kenya, and Peru), paying them fair trade wages and giving them access to “a safe job, sustainable income, health care, education, and a real chance to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families.”
Acknowledging that the fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter (after oil), Raven + Lily also researches the source of their materials “down to the button” and use recycled or repurposed materials in order to prevent waste.
They sell much more than just jewelry, but the pieces in their jewelry collection are beautifully designed. Their earring collection is particularly chic, as well as their cuffs and bracelets. Have fun browsing their entire shop, which has an incredible amount of gorgeous pieces. You can do so HERE.
The jewelry handcrafted at Purpose Jewelry is made by survivors of modern-day slavery in Mumbia, India and Orange County, CA. Purpose Jewelry not only gives these women rescued from sex trafficking a fair wage and a fresh start, but they also offer holistic care that ensures their artisans receives freedom and hope for her future.
The proceeds from Purpose Jewelry go to benefit International Sanctuary, their nonprofit organization that offers these women “education, health care, and counseling.” They’re are able to earn a fair wage and develop employable skills thanks to the work being done at Purpose Jewelry.
If you browse their collection, you’ll discover how beautifully timeless their pieces look (such as this “Infinity” necklace or this “Sierra” necklace). Each piece is subtle and delicate, like this “Current” ring or the “Forget-Me-Knot” cuff. Purpose Jewelry is a beautiful brand working to empower beautiful women. Consider adding a few of their pieces to your jewelry box this season. Shop their online store HERE.
So check out these brands! Not to feel better about yourself or to satisfy some sort of self-righteous agenda. Buy from them because you want to join their mission. Because you want to fight against the suffering in this world. Because you want to love your neighbor in whatever way you can, no matter what part of the world they’re from.
***If you’re itching to do more than just buy from these companies, all of them offer volunteer opportunities that they list on their websites. Sometimes taking “steps” to help alleviate suffering might mean taking actual steps to meet these women face to face. If that’s where your heart is at, I say go for it. And send me a postcard!***