I just love the subtle ways that God leads us. I a lot of times do not even notice unless I stop and purposefully reflect on what has been going on in my life. Sometimes a friend will point something out and it will dawn on me and still other times my mom says, “it’s so neat how God has…” and she is always right! Last week I was sharing with her about my blogging journey, the 31 day challenge and the people that I have come across because of both and she said something to the effect of, “it’s so neat how God puts us in community.” As she said that I just thought, “wow, yea, he really has put me among just neat, neat people. People that inspire me, that challenge me and encourage me to stay in God’s truths, to stay along his path and to stay in community with him and his people so that my dreams might form through his faithfulness.
I am very excited to be sharing one of those encouragers with you today. I am an active Instagrammer as you may well know, I love scrolling through my IG feed daily (it’s my one form of personal interaction in social media since I am not on Facebook) and I am always so encouraged and inspired and challenged, I just love it! I have come to many incredible opportunities because of it as well! One such opportunity opened up last week and I am very overjoyed to bring to you, my very first affiliate program that I am associated with, The Root Collective – a trendy little fashion accessory boutique!!! Read on to learn more about this amazing company that gives back:
“The Root Collective PARTNERS with artisans. They are not employed by us. They own their own businesses and are in control of the path of their own lives. They are capable, confident, and resourceful. They simply need someone to believe in them. That where all of us come in.
We are not HELPING. At least not in the traditional sense. Helping connotes that the other person needs us, and we are somehow a savior, that we are somehow more capable than them. The Root Collective wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for our talented artisans. They are helping us as much as we are them. It’s a partnership.
We partner to AFFIRM dignity, not give it. No one can give another person dignity.
We believe that our nonprofit partners are investing in these communities, so we invest in them. The word “charity” tends to give me the heeby jeebies. See above section on “helping.”
The Root Collective is a for-profit business. On purpose. The reason being is the above section on “helping.” (Yes, we’re pretty serious about this) We want this to be a truly equal partnership, and we felt the best way to do that was through a structure that made us equals with our partner artisans. They are business owners, we are business owners, we are working together.”
Isn’t that just beautiful?! I pulled that right from the information that she gave us in the program (with permission of course) just because I couldn’t describe things any better. It says so clearly what the mission is and I just LOVE that!
The fabric for each bag is handwoven in the traditional backstrap looms of Guatemala. These looms were in existence before the Spanish arrived in the 1500’s. The weaving co-op that creates the fabric was formed by war widows during the 36-year civil war that ravaged Guatemala.
The bags are handcrafted in the slum of La Limonada in Guatemala City by a business owner named Willy. Willy is focused on growing his business to provide employment to others in his community. His heart lies with the younger generation and preventing them from the fate of the gangs that haunt so many.
The fabric for each scarf is handwoven in the traditional backstrap looms of Guatemala. These looms were in existence before the Spanish arrived in the 1500’s. The weaving co-op that creates the fabric was formed by war widows during the 36-year civil war that ravaged Guatemala. The women would gather in each other’s homes for comfort after their husbands were kidnapped or murdered during the war. Weaving is not only an ancient art for the Mayan population, but it was also a way for the women to support their families. They often did not have access to formal education and only spoke the local indigenous languages, which made them nearly unemployable in the formal economy.
Each scarf is created, start to finish, by one woman from 100% cotton. The process of separating and setting up the yarns, and the then the weaving, takes a full 15 hours per scarf to make.
THE BEADED NECKLACES
Our beaded necklaces are handcrafted by the Maasai tribe in Kenya (where our partnering nonprofit, ComeUnity, works within communities). Famous for their amazing jewelry, the Maasai tribe has passed down the art form from generation to generation. Women connect, teach, learn, and fellowship over this process.
Traditionally, the various colors signify different statuses, emotions, and character traits. Beaded collars and necklaces are created for women on their wedding days and other special occasions, each strand signifying wealth and beauty. Beaded adornments are worn by both women and men.
Maasai beadworking is also a major source of income. Many tourists fall in love with the color and beauty of each piece. (And it isn’t hard to imagine why. I mean, have you SEEN how gorgeous these necklaces are?! Rhetorical question.) The Root Collective provides the opportunity for women to sell their products to a wider, global marketplace.
The fabric for each pair of shoes is handwoven in the traditional backstrap looms of Guatemala. These looms were in existence before the Spanish arrived in the 1500’s. The weaving co-op that creates the fabric was formed by war widows during the 36-year civil war that ravaged Guatemala. The main part of the shoes takes 2 hours to weave, and any embroidered detail on the shoe takes 100 hours per meter (about 3 feet) to weave.
The shoes are crafted by hand in the slum of La Limonada in Guatemala City by a business owner named Otto. Like so many others in Central American slums, Otto was a member of a gang. Unlike many others, he was able to escape that life. It can be dangerous to leave the gangs, and since gang members are branded by gang tattoos, if they are able to leave, finding a job is nearly impossible. Otto’s business plan is to train and hire former gang members so they are able to leave their former lives.
Here’s a little more about the Artisans and what they do:
Moureen lives in Kenya. When her father passed, her mother was left as the primary caretaker of Moureen and her 8 siblings. Then, after struggling in school because of learning disabilities – repeating the same grades year after year – Moureen was left feeling defeated. Her fate, too, was looking to become like many young women in her community – being sold as a bride to a much older man from the village. It wasn’t until the headmaster at her school, noticing the ridicule and troubles facing Moureen in the classroom, approached the Neema Project. With help from the organization, Moureen has been learning various trade skills, including beadworking, tailoring, hairdressing, and embroidery. No longer being teased and feeling discouraged because of her traditional learning challenges, Moureen has blossomed with confidence and determination. She has found value in her work and in herself. Because of the skills she has been taught, she is hopeful about her future and the opportunities now placed in front of her.
Otto was born in La Limonada, a slum of Guatemala City, Guatemala. He was raised, like many children of the city, with a knowledge of the streets, surrounded by the vast number of gangs that clog the area. He had little support from his parents, leaving him vulnerable to the influence of such violent activity. However, from childhood, Otto knew he was a different breed. He realized that he loved to help others, knowing that he, “always thought first in the welfare of others more than [his] own”. At 10, he began working as a shoemaker, a skill that has allowed him to rise above his surroundings and help to transform his community. His dream is to involve many former gang members in his business and teach them the skills he has learned. By teaching these individuals, his hope is that they will pay it forward – going on to teach others the same they have been taught.
The lovely gal above, Isabelle is weaving the blue fabric for the scarves and purses. I am so excited to have a place that I can purchase gifts for this Christmas and it will not only bless the receiver of my gift but help to support these amazing people in their work! You can read so much more about them on The Root Collective website. I have only shared a couple of their breathtaking Artisans with you – go check the rest out!