Sustainably Chic

Blessings Breaking Poverty

Natalie Kay

international blessings

A business dedicated to sustaining communities and culture, International Blessings has a huge heart for impoverished nations. I have been following Sarah Barnett, the creator, for over a year now, and can see how much passion she has for this venture. The hand-carved wooden animals {above} I received in my first Box of Blessings are a favorite of mine, and made in Kenya. With every product you purchase, you have a wonderful story behind the piece. Click below to find out more about Sarah, and how it all began.

Tell us about International Blessings and how sustainability is incorporated into your business.

International Blessings partners with 3rd world artisans around the world to create sustainable livelihoods that break the cycle of poverty. We help these artisans market and sell their beautiful, handmade jewelry, toys, ornaments, and more.  Sustainability is the core purpose and mission of International Blessings. I have traveled around the world serving in the poorest communities and have observed the lasting change that happens when someone is empowered through a job instead of just handouts. Handouts are always temporary and will not bring about lasting change. That is why I partner with artisan groups that are focused on creating jobs and educating impoverished people in basic literacy skills as well as in business and life skills.  When you empower a person with the ability to feed and care for their family, you are not only giving them hope and a future, but also dignity and self-sustainability. 

How did your venture begin?

In 2007, I traveled to Burkina Faso, West Africa as a short-term missionary.  During this time, I met and befriended a neighbor girl whose family made handbags. I would go over to her house in the evening, and she taught me how to make them.  I got to thinking about the difference it would make for this family if I was able to purchase a bunch of these bags and sell them in the U.S.  That is when God began revealing the dream for International Blessings. And I wish I could say I immediately got started, but I had and still have the travel bug and continued to pursue travel and mission work around the world. It wasn't until 2012, when I was married with a baby and 'stuck' in a office job that I finally started taking steps to pursue this dream. It had been several years since I had traveled internationally, and I desperately need to reconnect with the passions of my heart and figure out a way to stay connected with my international community as well as make a lasting difference.  So, I started with a blog and slowly began partnering with artisans groups by purchasing inventory and selling at craft shows.

What is your Box of Blessings?

Box of Blessings is a venture that started in the fall of 2014.  It is a monthly subscription box that contains 3-4 handmade items from artisans around the world. Each month focuses on a different country and shares information about the products and the artisans that made them. $3 from each box is also donated to a poverty fighting cause such as Heifer International or Compassion International.

What are the future plans for your business? 

My future plans for International Blessings is to develop deeper connections with my artisan groups by visiting them and sharing their stories. I had the opportunity in 2015 to visit artisan groups in Peru and Haiti.  That experience along with lots of pictures and video helps to communicate the difference that buying fairly and ethically made products can make on a family, a community, and ultimately on the world.  I hope to expand my inventory line to work with artisans in more countries. I would also love to help start or invest in new artisans groups, specifically serving the poor of the poor. I am so excited about the potential impact that International Blessings will have and the lives that will be forever changed. I also hope inspire and motivate more people to become involved in this movement and to see the difference firsthand.  For those that are interested in learning more or possibly getting involved, I invite you to join our private Facebook group.

Shop International Blessings online, and get social with them on Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest.

Use code SUSTAINCHIC10 for 10% off your store purchase OR first Box of Blessings!