In the world we live in today, we are faced with a multitude of decisions. The decision to get out of bed, the decision to engage or disengage with the people around us, the decision to make the purchase. Between purchasing basic necessities (food & water) or luxuries (quality clothing or higher education), we make decisions based on purchases every single day. What to buy, what not to buy. What we have the money to invest in, what we don't. But in the midst of our purchases...we stop asking a really huge question: what is the impact of all of these purchases?
Many of us may think there is no impact at all. Buying a pair of shoes just impacts the buyer (you) and the seller (DSW) - right? Wrong. The impact of our purchases ripples far beyond what we see. Consider the makers of each shoe, the materials, the shipper, the warehouse location and on and on. With each purchase, we are effecting a lot more people than just the buyer and seller.
What does this mean? Our purchases, when made thoughtfully, really can make a difference for good. The clothing, shoes, and jewelry we buy can empower, liberate, and catalyze incredible change—without the sacrifice of quality or style. And we couldn't think of a better example of a company who is doing this right than 31 bits.
31 Bits: using fashion and design as a method of empowerment, helping individuals rise above poverty.
31 Bits recognizes the power of the individual woman and the impact she can have on her family and community when given the opportunity. Empowering others at the very core of 31 Bits, working to equally benefit the purchaser of each piece of jewelry (you + me) with a quality, fashion forward product, while also caring and attending to the creator of each piece of jewelry (women in Uganda). The beneficiaries don't only earn a sustainable income, they also receive counseling, health education, finance training and business mentorships. And its ALL funded by product sales.
Rewind to the very beginning—it all started when these girls were juniors in college. It only took a single trip to Uganda for Kallie Dovel to realize the stark differences between the 20-somethings in the United States and the 20-somethings in Uganda. To say that their lives were drastically different is the understatement of the century. From living situations to family life to education to everything in between—the women Kallie met in Uganda faced incredibly different situations, but possessed incredible drive, skill, and will to succeed. Above all else, these women were resourceful. They made jewelry out of old posters and bits of paper...jewelry that is now sold in over 300 stores across the United States - thanks to the vision of Kallie Dovel, Alli Swanson, Anna Toy, Brooke Hodges, and Jessie Simonson!
These 31 bits founders have taken the art of jewelry making, and transformed it into a process that does GOOD - giving us (the consumer) the opportunity to change a life with every purchase. Their jewelry is phenomenal and a fashion statement to say the least.
This thing called "conscious consumerism" is a movement, challenging you and I to be education on where the products we purchase are coming from, and it involves every one of us. It means knowing your purchase makes an impact one way or another, why not make it a good one? Whether you’re buying jewelry, a backpack, or your morning coffee—we challenge you to think about where your money is going. If you're looking to change the world, or invest in some really great jewelry, support 31 bits. They are truly doing it right.
Written by Grace Mueller
Spring 2015 Intern