Shopping for low-cost, hand-crafted, UK-made jewellery that helps charity projects – sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But I’ve recently discovered an amazing online gift shop that does just that – HOPE Jewellery. As you probably know here at the Cassiefairy blog I love to support ethical companies, charities and socially responsible brands so I when I found out about this shop I simply couldn’t keep it to myself and wanted to share it with you all!
I got in touch with the shop and had the opportunity to interview two lovely volunteers, Natalia Molinero Mingorance and Lakshmi Sankaran about their involvement in Enacus (the student-led company that runs the ethical store) and all the voluntary work they do for the HOPE Project. I hope you’ll find the responses as interesting as I did and that you’ll be able to see why gift shopping with the HOPE store is a great idea.
Natalia, please tell us a little about Enactus and what it does?
Enactus Sheffield is a social enterprise company, based at the University of Sheffield. Through both social and commercial projects we aim to harness students’ entrepreneurial spirit, to make a difference in our local community and to communities abroad. Guided by academic advisors and business experts, the student leaders of Enactus create and implement community empowerment projects around the globe. The experience not only transforms lives, it helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that are essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world. Enactus operates in 1,600 Universities across 38 countries. Currently we have a total of 62,000 students who have put 7,300,00 hours into running their Enactus teams and developing their projects.
Lakshmi Sankaran, you’re the volunteer project leader of the HOPE Commercial Team – when did you first get involved in the project and why?
I joined the HOPE team in February 2013 and have been a part of Enactus for over a year now. During this time I have seen HOPE Commercial grow immensely. I joined it due to my passion for helping social causes. This project interested me since it empowers women, motivating me as a woman myself. There are millions of women all around the world who suffer from human trafficking and domestic abuse. As humanitarians we must take a stand to stop this and the HOPE project at Enactus Sheffield provides an elegant, sustainable solution through the use of enterprise. This year HOPE has expanded a lot. We are in two major shops in Sheffield; we have rebranded our website, merchandise and social media; we have also held sales events in large venues, for instance at the final Ice Hockey Varsity game at the Motorpoint Arena. With continued support and exposure we believe we can share our beautiful bracelets as well as our significant social cause with others who wish to change the world, just like us!
What does the HOPE Project aim to do?
HOPE Jewellery works with survivors of Human Trafficking, and victims of sexual and domestic abuse in South Yorkshire, with the aim of providing skills, knowledge, training, and confidence to be able to support themselves and their family financially in the future. This is partly achieved through the model of a jewellery business where the women hand-craft beautiful jewellery to sell. The women we work with are then empowered to use the skills and knowledge transferred to them independently in gaining employment or setting up their own micro-enterprises. This allows them to independently finance themselves and their family, enabling them to have a better and brighter future. All profits made from the jewellery sales are either directly fed back into the project, or kept aside as a micro-finance pot for the women to access when they need it.
How does the jewellery help the survivors of human trafficking?
We aim to empower vulnerable women to lead a better quality of life providing them with essential entrepreneurial skills. All the profits made by the commercial team, selling the bracelets, goes back to the women in their times of need. They can approach HOPE to provide them with financial support if they are interested in starting their own business. This project provides the women with many employability skills; communication, teamwork, planning, sales and motivation. This year the project was aimed to further develop the women’s entrepreneurial skills by locally sourcing all the materials for the bracelets as well as giving the different safe house teams the chance to design all the bracelets.
The women come to the craft fairs as well to see the commercial side of the project. The hope social teams run sessions to improve the women’s employability skills. For instance some of the women from the safe houses are involved in our sister company, HOPE Cosmetic’s placement scheme. This provides them with writing CVs, interview training and important workshops that build the ability of the women to go out into the world and be independent. We aim to provide continued support for women when they leave the safe houses with our community projects.
Please can you tell us about your sister site, HOPE Cosmetics?
By selling cosmetic products this team contributes so much to the ongoing success of the HOPE project. By bringing in new streams of revenue, the reps make sure we can keep offering our placements and empowering survivors of human trafficking and victims of domestic abuse.
So what do you think? Fancy buying the next birthday gift for your mother from HOPE? Or how about treating yourself to a natural, handmade HOPE cosmetics product such as a lip balm, scrub or body butter? All of my friends and family can certainly expect a to receive a little HOPE with their next gift and I’d love it if you would consider shopping and supporting this charitable project soon. Check out their Facebook page – HOPE Sheffield.