As a small business owner, it is important to have a “why”. It is not easy to start a business from the ground up. But having a big reason for when the struggle hits makes it easier to keep going.

Here’s mine:

I started this business just about two years ago and I am so excited to share it all with you. Along with running this business, I am also an occupational therapist. As much as I love my job, I feel like I was meant to do something more. A few years ago I was shopping for Christmas and stumbled upon a few companies that were being very transparent about working with artisans, paying them fairly and giving them safe working conditions. Because these companies were mentioning the good things they were doing, I had to assume that the companies I have been shopping at consistently were not. I started researching and was so disappointed. Garment workers in Bangladesh are making less than ¼ of a livable wage. In Guangdong, China women work 150 hours of overtime per month! 60% of garment workers in Bangladesh and India have experienced some form of abuse: verbal, physical or sexual- at work. Fast fashion isn’t free, someone is paying. I have heard enough. I HAD to do something

In addition to these new companies,  I have traveled a lot on service trips over the years. I always left the trips feeling like I wanted to help the artisans or people I met all over the world. Fair trade became the answer to that desire. These are the reasons I opened my own company and how I began to change the artisan’s stories.

Through The Golden Rule boutique and Threads worldwide we partner with artisans in developing countries to provide them with a marketplace here in the United States. This marketplace allows them to earn a livable wage, live healthier lives and keep their kids in school.

When I was working in the school district, one of my coworkers and friends heard what I was doing. She told me her story, that became part of mine. Her daughter was abducted in San Diego for the use of human trafficking. Thank god they found her in Ohio. But human trafficking is really happening. In our own back yards. Don’t be naive to what is going on. Slavery is a modern problem. One way to combat it is to shop fair trade. We all can be better and we can all make better choices with our dollars.

My mission with The Golden Rule Boutique and working with Threads is to create lifechanging work for women around the world through the fair trade of artisan made jewelry and quality made clothing. Through these companies we can gather together and be world changers, together.

I want you to take a moment and imagine a woman in India who has been sold into sex trafficking. She manages to escape, but she has no other options in her future. She has no skills. She has no sense of dignity or pride. She will likely be forced back into the sex trade. Fair trade offers her another way. She learns an artisan trade, she gets paid fairly for it and she gains a sense of hope and dignity. Her future has been forever altered. We helped create a new future for her and her family.

When you shop here fair trade jewelry or clothing, you can share a fair trade story with your friends about these are the women you are directly impacting. Clothes and jewelry wont change the world, but you the woman who wears it will. I want you to think about fair trade chocolate, fair trade tea, fair trade soap, fair trade chocolate. There are people behind every single product that we buy. If you see fair trade you know that the person behind the product is protected by safe working conditions, no forced labor, and a fair working wage.

I want my brothers and sisters around the world to have the same opportunities as I do. Including education, which we really take for granted here. In developing countries if your family can’t afford your uniform you cannot attend school. Fair trade helps provide families the ability to buy uniforms and therefore, schooling for those children. I want you to all be a part of this movement, because slowly but surely the world is changing.

My passion is spreading awareness of fair trade. Do you have a group of people that would like to hear more about fair trade? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Be a part of something bigger than yourself.

No one is asking you to be perfect, but find your why. Make one better shopping decision at a time and keep reminding yourself WHY.

Xo,

Jackie Bilancia Costello

 

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