UPDATE: The contest has ended–check below to see if you’re a winner!
I’m a t-shirt-and-jeans kinda girl.
Seriously. I own three dresses, and you will probably disqualify one of them because it’s my wedding dress. I’ve worn the same two pairs of earrings nearly every day for 8 years. Plane Jane to the max over here!
I wasn’t raised in a household where accessorizing or wearing makeup or anything girly like that was encouraged or practiced, so all of that was a bit scary. Finding clothes that fit properly was enough of a challenge, so walking into a Charming Charlie store was the last thing I wanted to do, and forget trying to figure out how to put on eyeliner. For most of my adult life, my wedding band was the fanciest thing I wore on any given day and while my husband has always encouraged me to be more “girly,” his affinity for being places on time has probably overruled any real effort to complicate the getting-ready routine. *wink*
But then I had kids. Lots of them. Okay, I’m about to have my third. My third boy. THREE BOYS. You’d think that would give me even more allowance to embrace the simple t-shirt-and-jeans life. Hug it tight for simplicity sake, since being a mama tomboy would be pretty darn easy!
But I realized that my identity was disappearing in a whirlwind of trucks and cars, sticks and rocks, Transformers and Lego mini-figures. Three kids in, my body is no longer anything like I remember. My daily wardrobe is utilitarian and sports a few stubborn spit up stains preserved for posterity’s sake. Nothing. Fits. The. Same. And, honestly, I’d totally love for my husband to be enticed by me because I actually look like and dress like an attractive woman!
So I decided to grow up. And make an effort to look more put together. And try to accessorize.
(Also, around the same time, I had decided to be much more cautious about what companies and causes I support with my spending. I didn’t want to support businesses that frequently exploit others or keep them in a dependent cycle of near-poverty in order to make huge profits. The fair trade movement was looking more and more appealing to support, but I didn’t know where to start. The combination of these two decisions turns out to be legen–wait for it–dary!)
And then my best friend, Jaimie, became a Compassion Entrepreneur for Trades of Hope. Suddenly I had a viable solution to support healthy, moral business practices while starting down this road of femininity! Yay!
Trades of Hope is an amazing company, built on the premise that so many women around the world are poor, undervalued and undereducated, not because of lack of ability, but lack of opportunity. Without the proper opportunity, community support, and training, many women are forced to turn to less desirable means of making a living. Some are sexually exploited. Some are disabled or HIV positive, becoming undesired pariahs of their community. Some work for pennies a day in sweatshops. Some are widowed and live in a society so male-dominated that they simply have no way to feed their own children or get them the medical attention they desperately need.
So Trades of Hope partners with and supports artisan groups which provide these women with the training and employment to create beautiful handmade products. Trades of Hope gives these groups supplies, animals, equipment–whatever makes it easier for them stick with this rather than turn back to the kind of life they had before. They compensate them for their products and even pay for shipping, then sell these gorgeous accessories to women like you and me at home parties. Everything is 100% handmade and is usually created with salvaged or recycled items found in their communities.
Currently Trades of Hope is working with 15 artisan groups over four continents and that number increases constantly. One artisan group is actually based right here in Southern California and rescues women trapped in the sex industry. Their Redeemed Necklace is actually one of the newest items offered by Trades of Hope and is an incredible symbol of breakthrough and transition from a place of darkness into the light. I’m also proud to say that that relationship was fostered by Jaimie, who is actually now on their staff (Click here and scroll to the bottom! Yay for awesome friends!).
I hosted a party a few months ago and now own some awesome pieces that I wear all the time, such as the Deep Aqua Layered Necklace and the Peruvian Turquoise Earrings (which look great together, by the way!). Knowing that I am supporting other women all over the world with the accessories I am excited to wear each day makes such an investment that much sweeter!
Today is your lucky day to start down this road with me! While many of you probably wear jewelry all the time, I’m betting most of the items you own were purchased from a store and you have no connection or history with the creation of this item, which is what we’re all used to. But this is an opportunity to put your money where you know that lives will be changed, children will be clothed and fed, and you can own accessories with a story–a real, full-circle, more-intense-than-Lifetime-TV story that can make you realize that where our money goes can literally change lives on the other side of the planet.
So, to get you started, I’m hosting a giveaway of one of THE most beautiful scarves I’ve ever seen! It’s called the Nepali Aqua Scarf. The beautiful little card attached to it gives you a bit of history:
“Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an unemployment rate of 42%. Many girls are lured into the sex trade to survive. Every year approximately 10,000 girls from 9 to 16 are sold, stolen or forced into brothels. Parents are even afraid to send their daughters to school for fear that they will be taken for the sex trade. These girls have been given an opportunity to earn a fair wage by making handcrafts, allowing them to have hope and dignity. Theya re being trained to own their own business and take pride in their work. They thank you for being a lifeline to help them out of poverty!”
There are many ways you can gain entries for this scarf, but the first way you can enter is to visit the Trades of Hope website and leave a comment on this post telling me what you’d add to your collection first (and maybe why?). The winner will be announced on Monday, July 29th–which happens to be my due date for said THIRD BOY! 🙂