Trading goods to share hope

Jamie Driggers took a vision trip to Haiti in May to observe artisans of Papillon Enterprises as they worked on products. There she met Roselore, who crafted the fabric clutch Sara Rempel had purchased through Trades of Hope. Roselore signed her name inside the purse.Women account for 70 percent of those living in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank, which gathers data on income of those living worldwide.

That fact contributes to the commitment two Hillsboro women have made in working with Trades of Hope, a missional organization founded to empower and bring women out of poverty and create sustainable small businesses.

“It’s a tragedy that women every single day give up their children because they can’t support them,” said Jamie Driggers, who has worked with Trades of Hope for two years.

Sara Rempel joined Driggers’ team of compassionate entrepreneurs a year-and-a-half ago.

Rempel had wanted a part-time job that would be a good fit as a mother of five children.

In launching her business, she said she’s come to welcome opportunities to meet new people and promote products she believes in and a company with a mission she’s passionate about.

“I wouldn’t have chosen to speak in front of groups,” Rempel said. “Now I can’t get enough of it—I want to get out and hear their stories. It’s such a gift.”

Rempel said that working with Trades of Hope has fulfilled her dream to be involved in missions but from a different approach than she had envisioned.

“It is a sisterhood,” she said. “I’ve grown to really love people.”

Both Hillsboro women market jewelry, accessories and home decor—produced by artisans from around the world—in hosted home and online parties and coffee shop get-togethers, Rempel said.

Purchases made by customers are shipped directly to them rather than back to the host.

Two mother-daughter teams founded Trades of Hope in 2010 because they wanted to make a difference in the world, Driggers said.

The organization, based in Florida, partners with artisans from 16 countries, including India, Haiti, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Kenya and Peru, and create a market for their handcrafts salvaged from sustainable items such as seeds, shells, clay beads, sea glass, shredded T-shirts and other recycled fabric.

“It’s beauty from ashes,” Driggers said about the artisans’ workmanship. “All of our pieces have a story.”

One Peruvian artisan bends wire to make an intricate cuff bracelet,which sells for $24 in the Trades of Hope catalog.

“She can do a hundred a day just spinning them from the wire,” Driggers said.

In Haiti, mothers sometimes add sugar or oil to clay that they feed their children because they have so little to give them.

“Dirt’s not good for you to eat,” Rempel said.

Now through the business they’ve started, women make beads from that clay, selling the jewelry to feed their families, she said.Sara Rempel displays the clutch made by Roselore in Haiti along with some of the jewelry that can be purchased through Trades of Hope.

Trades of Hope works with 22 to 25 artisan groups that target different goals, from women caught in sex trafficking to those who are disabled.

“The artisans get 100 percent of their asking price, which is four to six times more than they would get in the local markets,” Driggers said.

“Twenty percent of the artisans are men,” she added.

Since being part of Trades of Hope, Driggers said she’s come to have a better understanding what the fair trade concept entails.

“Most people believe fair trade is an excuse to charge more,” Driggers said, adding that’s what she used to think.

But fair trade enables people to receive a livable income for their work so they can care for their families.

Driggers has participated with a fair trade booth in the annual November Alternative Gift Market event held in Marion where people can purchase items to support different causes.

Like other fair trade organizations, Driggers said Trades of Hope works directly with the artisans.

“The artisans are fully paid before (their products) ever come over (to the U.S.),” Driggers said.

The organization pays 50 percent of the artisans’ asking price when an order is made and 50 percent upon its completion, she said, plus it pays the shipping costs to the U.S..

Compassionate entrepreneurs such as Driggers and Rempel operate with a base commission of 20 percent for the products they sell. The company has grown to include some 3,000 compassionate entrepreneurs.

“We believe fully in what we’re doing,” Driggers said, who holds parties and gatherings within about a 200-mile radius of Hillsboro through face-to-face and Facebook parties, plus she has team members coast to coast in the United States. She even has two on her team in Germany who are in the military with an APO address.

Because of sales by her team members, Driggers said she’s also able to give generously to international causes through Trades of Hope, which also tithes 10 percent of its profits to international needs that arise such as last year’s earthquake in Nepal.

Driggers recently traveled on a vision trip sponsored by Trades of Hope and visited Papillon Enterprises in Haiti, the first artisan group contracted by the organization.

“It’s really an opportunity for them to tell what they want from us and what they hope for their families,” she said. “We try our hand at making what they make—for most of us, that’s a disaster.”

While in Haiti, Driggers met Roselore, the woman who sewed and signed a fabric clutch Rempel had purchased, took a picture with her and relayed it to Rempel.

“It’s just gut-wrenching for me to have this (clutch) from her, to be praying for her,” Rempel said, “and then Jamie’s right there next to her. (Roselore) has this job and she’s able to keep her children.”

The trip to Haiti also underscored Driggers’ commitment to eradicate poverty orphans, children who have living parents who can’t provide for them.

Through Trades of Hope, Driggers said she’s found a way to make a difference by giving others a job who can then provide for their families.

“That’s my heart—that’s what I love to talk about,” she said.

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