“In college I was a part of a group who worked with the homeless. From that experience I found myself wanting to do something with my life to help people. Wanting to do something to help make the world a better place became a real passion for me. After college I became a teacher, and I went on to teach kids in inner-city Newark, which really shaped me as a person. It was such a great experience. After I got married and had kids, I stopped teaching to become a full-time mom and home-school my kids. But as my kids started getting older, these passions that I had in my heart were coming to the forefront again. I struggled as a Christian woman because I felt like I should have been fulfilled being a mom and home-schooling, but in my heart I wanted to go beyond that. I obviously knew that what I was doing in raising my kids is important, and I value that, but I felt called to something more.
“During that time I had a friend tell me about Trades of Hope and how they are impacting entire communities all over the world, and it was something I would be really good at. I realized it was an opportunity to fulfill my passion to make a difference in the world while also raising my kids. So I signed up to be a Compassion Entrepreneur, and never looked back. The experience of knowing I am helping so many people is amazing.
“What Trades of Hope does is it gives opportunities to women who are impoverished. Women live in poverty not because they lack ability, but because they lack opportunity. Trades of Hope was founded with a mission to give women that opportunity for a better life. We partner with women who have escaped sex trafficking, extreme poverty, sweatshops and abuse. Their lives are now filled with hope and healing as they earn living wages creating beautiful products such as jewelry, scarves, hand bags and home decor.
“For example, in Cambodia we have a woman we partner with who was a victim of an acid attack. In that culture, people who are left with those scars are shunned. But she wanted to break free from that, and as part of her recovery, she started a small business crocheting. She just wanted to show that she could still do something and make a difference and have a purpose. We found her initially from a friend from our company who was in Cambodia, and met her. So the woman who was crocheting after her acid attack began crocheting pieces for us, and our relationship with her has gone so well.
“And it is so neat, because as we have grown exponentially as a company, her business has grown too, and she has been able to reach out into her community and have other women who have been victims of acid attacks come and work for her. She is an international business woman now.
“Trades of Hope now partners with about 28 artisan groups in 16 different countries. Some of our artisan groups are small little startups with a handful of women who come together to create products. We take care of shipping, the tariffs, the taxes and everything else for the merchants so they can get their products here. We pay them 100% of their asking price up front, before any sale takes place in the United States. The more they sell their products, their market grows larger and larger and they are able to train more people in their communities to work with them.
“One of the most meaningful aspects about doing this, for me, is I can show my daughters that it is possible for women to find a balance in life: to still put family first, but they can still touch the world in so many other ways, and that moms can make a difference.”
(POTJS Note: See the following link to learn more and see the hand-made products that women entrepreneurs from all over the world have made.}