I went to a Women's College. I spent most of my "corporate" days working in a woman-owned company. So I am a big believer in "Girl Power." In fact, I'm pretty much convinced that if we girls pull together that we can find some awesomely creative ways to solve many of the world's problems. More to the point, if we can lend helping hands to good mothers so that they can provide for their children then we are taking a big step toward repopulating the world with a wonderful new generation full of hope and potential.
So I love to hear stories about someone has come up with a creative way to help women find meaningful ways to become self-sufficent and provide for their families. Amanda Judge, the founder of The Andean Collection, a new company that is using the "Eco-Fashion" industry niche to provide opportunities for women to overcome poverty, contacted me a week or two ago to tell me her story. The excitement and enthusiasm around her dream of making a difference in a innovative way is quite contagious.
With a commitment to fair trade principles and ecologically sound business practices, The Andean Collection works collaboratively with artisans from disadvantaged communities in South America to create jewelry that is marketable in the US, but also includes design elements that are clearly influenced by ancient culture. Furthermore, Amanda's company works with the artisans to establish a path to prosperity. By marketing the jewelry in the US, Amanda estimates that they are also helping to ensure the survival of the world’s rainforests by providing an alternative income to its inhabitants rather than logging or selling land to destructive industries.
The fair-trade practices of the company have significantly enhanced the lives of its
indigenous artisans. Amanda conveyed a story of one of her artisans who prior to making
jewelry for The AC, she made her living by selling grain at the local
market, where she made so little that she and her husband would often
forgo meals to feed their three children. Based on just two jewelry
orders, the woman was able to build an extra room in her two-room clay brick
house and purchase a washing machine, after hand washing clothes for 26
Making a Guilty Pleasure Less Guilty
Now I love a little bling. However, I don't buy it very often because I sometimes feel a little guilty about treating myself too often. I know it is just a semantic argument, but there is really something about wearing and buying socially conscious goods. My order from Andean hasn't arrived, but I've ordered stuff from other socially conscious companies. When I use/wear those items, I look at them and know that it really helped someone. It gives me just that extra lift.
Previously, the jewelry has been sold in high-end boutiques and retail
outlets in Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York.
However, now you can purchase affordable ($18-$98) handcrafted jewelry online at www.theandeancollection.com.