Sustainably Chic

Making Dreams a Reality through Recycled Paper Jewelry

FashionNatalie Kay

tribe + glory

As a non-profit jewelry line, not only does Tribe + Glory create jobs for artisans in Zirobwe, Uganada, they teach them the necessary skills to have a business outside of the program. It's not often I come across a business that offers both a job and classes on finance and other important subjects. It's about creating the path which works best for them and their family. You can read about how their program is run in this interview with the director {designer & co-founder, too}, Loren Thomas  - oh & you get to see some beautiful jewelry along the way! 

Tell us about Tribe + Glory and how sustainability is incorporated into your business.

Tribe + Glory is a non-profit jewelry line that is hand-crafted by artisans in Zirobwe, Uganda, as a part of the women’s empowerment department of Empower a Child International.  We love that fashion can serve as a connection between two worlds, furthermore, two people- the woman making the item and the woman wearing it. Given this connection, we believe in the power of each purchase, and the ability it has to provide an active measure of hope and opportunity! 

In addition to learning the skills of jewelry making, our women also receive training in micro-finance, business planning and skills, family planning, English as a second language, nutrition, bible studies, and health and wellness education. It is our vision that when an artisan leaves our program, they will be fully equipped to enter the working world with the necessary skill sets.

In only one year of being a part of the Tribe + Glory program, already, we have seen our artisans:

-Expand upon their huts, adding sectionals or rooms for their children, adding a kitchen, and buying furniture for the living area

-Build new houses out of brick and concrete

-Create a plan and begin saving for their future small business dream: A hair salon and a brick making company

-Buy and raise livestock

-Save and invest for their futures

How did Tribe + Glory begin?

Tribe + Glory began as a desire to employ, empower, and equip a community of young women, connecting them to thinkers, innovators, and sisters around the globe. After living in Uganda for a year, working with and talking to the women in the village of Zirobwe on a daily basis, I recognized both a need and an opportunity to raise up and empower this group of women. When I first began working with Empower a Child in Zirobwe, I fell in love with the mothers of our sponsored children. Never in my life had I met people so warm and welcoming, always inviting me into their huts, always offering me a portion of what little food they had. I loved these special meeting times, listening to their stories and sharing with them mine.  As we got to know each other, I learned that many of the women were single mothers and nearly all of the women were working as sustenance farmers, living and feeding their families on what little they could grow.  It saddened me when talking with these women that few of them seemed to have a vision for any different kind of life. Although every single one of them could express the dreams they had for their children to have a better life, they themselves had accepted their current state as their future. When I asked them what they would like to be doing if they had a choice, many of them simply responded with a desire to provide for their children and send their children to school through university.  As I listened to my vibrant, intelligent, friends share these things with me, it became my desire to help these women feel secure in their ability to provide for their children enough that they are able to feel free to recognize and chase their own passions and dreams. I knew with absolute certainty that if we could provide these women with a stepping stool, they could see their full potential, pursue their dreams, and ignite a wave of hope throughout their generation.  After much planning and consideration with our team, the women’s empowerment department was finally launched! 

How many artisans do you have working for you?

Currently, we have nine T+G jewelry artisans. Each piece of jewelry is named after either one of our artisans, or one of our team members. 100% of all proceeds go directly to the women and the village development. The women in our program receive a fair trade salary of which they save 50% to reinvest into their futures. The other 50% of their salaries are used to send their children to school, purchase food and clothes to provide for their families, and to spend on the other things they individually wish to purchase. Many of our artisans have worked with our team to create a budget allowing them to save even more than 50% as they have seen their dreams becoming closer and closer to reality. 

Where do your artisans find inspiration for their creations?

Tribe + Glory jewelry is one-third of this women’s empowerment department. The other two sections work on local development with sewing and farming projects to clothe and feed the children in EAC’s school and sponsorship program. Recognizing that, universally, women love fashion, through the Tribe + Glory jewelry line, we are able to raise money and awareness for the department, connecting and uniting the women of Zirobwe with empowered women (like you!) all around the world.
 Upon entering the program, each woman works with our team to recognize her passions and discover her own dream.  Once this dream is defined, she has the opportunity to help construct her own business plan, individually tailored to help her transform her dreams into reality. For some, this means learning the necessary skill, saving money, and designing a plan for running their own small business. For others, this means working hard, mastering craftsmanship, and saving enough money to send her children through university. We believe there is beauty and power in recognizing and encouraging individuality among our artisans. Each woman is different, each is important, and each brings new life and personality not only to our program, but also to each piece of jewelry! 

What are the future plans for Tribe + Glory?

The next chapter of T+G is our launch of a cattle horn line. In June of 2016 we will begin training of a new group of artisans who will be making home goods and jewelry out of cattle horn. We are so excited for this new step and have some beautiful designs up our sleeves!
In 2016 we also hope to expand to more retail locations and add more national ambassadors to our team hosting home shows and raising awareness.

Shop the Tribe + Glory collections here.

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