Fair Trade Jewelry has become a popular movement in recent years, but one group of women is doing something especially delicious–with a twist.
A collection of necklaces and bracelets made from dried fruit, nuts, berries, and beans, is providing fruitful income opportunities for women in South America.
The delightful line of accessories might have stayed a secret had not Mandy Nagel from America stumbled upon the seller on a trip to Colombia. Inspiration struck and she founded I Thought of You, as a way to help give this beautiful woman selling jewelry a better life.
Elizabeth was a South American mother faced with limited work options after her husband passed away. Her son, Sebastian, was still very young and needed to be cared for when he wasn’t in school. Another woman in town, Floralba, invited her and Sebastian to work at her home making the hand-crafted jewelry.
When Nagel arrived, she offered them something even better: a huge, reoccurring purchase order as a featured merchant in Nagel’s new online shop.
One especially interesting techniques behind the Made From Fruit line is the use of orange peels. They are collected from street juice vendors and dried in the sun for seven days. After that time, they harden to a texture similar to stiff leather while retaining the natural oils for a light citrus scent. All three pieces above feature the orange peels, died with fruit juices. The earrings below are crocheted from cantaloupe seeds.
The 28-year-old’s businesswoman’s background is in digital design and traditional marketing—she’s worked for Apple, Dunkin Donuts, Microsoft, Warner Brothers Pictures, and Xbox—but at age 26, she found herself wanting to influence the world for the better, so she decided to start her own business in 2013.
As for Elizabeth, she now employs several women in her community to complete the orders the company sends in. Nagel recently traveled from Ohio, where she currently resides, back to Colombia to spend time with Elizabeth and her group, and found that they have started a new endeavor to bring opportunity to other young women in her town by teaching trade skills along with business skills.
“She not only employs some of the women she’s taught, but she has continued to mentor the women who decided go start their own small businesses in the community,” Nagel told Good News Network. “Her story is a great example of how opportunities ripple throughout the towns of our artisan communities that we work with.”
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