Diving into the fair trade world for the first time can be overwhelming. There is so much to learn, so many opinions, so many different avenues to get involved, and hundreds of websites to explore. It can be tempting to throw it all aside and think there is nothing you can do that will really make a difference amidst the massive world problem of unfair wages, dangerous working conditions, unequal rights, and poor worker treatment which the fair trade movement fights against. Is it really worth it to you to pay a little more and switch to fair trade underwear or drink fair trade coffee? What can that really accomplish?
One company is working to change this mindset with their message: Dare to believe that something as simple as a piece of jewelry or a hand woven basket can change the world. Amy (a.k.a. Lucy) and her mom, Jo, began “Lucy and Jo”, after seeing firsthand how purchasing even one item from an artisan craft maker in a place like Kenya or Uganda can greatly affect a person’s life. What may seem like a relatively insignificant purchase to us can lead to something much greater in the life and future of the craftsman.
Due to a lifelong interest in gorilla conservation, Amy went to study wildlife biology in Africa at age 19. There Amy discovered beautiful and unique handcrafted jewelry and crafts that she felt should be enjoyed by more than just locals and tourists. She also developed a heart for these talented people and realized a greater market could actually provide a huge opportunity for these artisans to rise out of poverty and earn a decent income, particularly one that didn’t involve exploiting the gorilla’s forest habitat. Amy spent the next fifteen years building her knowledge and gaining experience in “market-based approaches to solving social challenges”. She then was ready to pour all her passion for “elevating others”, fair trade, gorillas, and beauty into her own company and “Lucy and Jo” was born. Lucy and Jo is very hands-on with every product they carry. They realize the importance of each individual involved in the production of their hand-crafted jewelry and goods and want to make this known to you, the consumer! They visit Africa frequently and work one-on-one with the artisans. They build personal relationships and invest in the communities. They continually look for ways to improve the system with the belief that “it’s absolutely possible to make money and elevate others at the same time”. All this to show that, yes, even one purchase made does make a difference. Every product found at Lucy and Jo is ethically made, whether it’s a basket woven by women rescued from abuse in Uganda, a ring forged by the Wandera brothers in Kenya, or earrings designed and made in the USA by Lucy and Jo’s very own Amy. While “ethical” and “handmade” are the main themes of the company, Lucy and Jo knows you care about design and quality and want to put your money into things that are eye-catching and complement your style. The products are designed and chosen with this in mind; so your one purchase (or two, or three!) are made because you love the product and not only because it’s fair trade or for a good cause. We believe that even one purchase is important and does bring about change, but this doesn’t mean it has to stop there. You can tell your friends, show off your new piece of jewelry, pass on what you’ve learned to your family, even make the next gift you purchase something that blesses not only the recipient, but also the producer. You can make one become hundreds and multiply the positive changes being made. And this is just jewelry and home goods! Next, you can look at the clothing you might buy, or the coffee shop you might choose to support. As Anna Lappé, a advocate for sustainable practices, puts it, “Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” You will spend money, and your money speaks. What do you want it to say?
Check out Lucy and Jo’s amazing products and read more about the people’s stories who make them at lucyandjo.com .