(I received the cabled glovelets to review. I was not compensated in any way for writing about them, and all opinions are 100% my own. I have also included affiliate links in this post. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site! A portion is also donated back to charitable organizations and ministries.)
Have you ever looked around your home, noticed there were a lot of things needing to be cleaned up, or begging to be done, but felt too overwhelmed by the general size of the task to clean it all up – paralyzed to do anything? Then when you sat down and made a list of what to do and where to start, suddenly this massive, overwhelming job isn’t so terrifying after all!
This is the advice that the founder of 4 All Humanity, a company that works with artisan communities, has to give. Zoe says: “Small actions matter. Do what you can now because it matters.”
You may look at the realm of fair trade products and feel overwhelmed, or disturbed by the massive differences between the ethical and sustainable vs. unsustainable fashion industry; you may have your heart broken for victims of exploitation and trafficking, for the orphans, outcasts and single moms pushed out of their homes and villages; you sense the need for prayer for so many things going wrong in our fallen world, and yet feel utterly and completely overwhelmed.
I know I have! For the longest time I pushed off making any changes, turning the other way, choosing to “not know”, simply because I didn’t know what I could do or how to do it.
Then, a small urge and interest to become educated in fair trade, worker’s rights and organizations working to bring freedom and hope, turned into online research, which turned into connecting with so many amazing, gracious companies and ministries, which has become a complete turn around, change of heart.
I may not be able to make big waves in the world when it comes to changing the way business is done, but I can certainly give my space here and my heart over to encouraging others to become involved in the change in some way, either by praying, purchasing products from fair trade, ethically sourced companies, or even taking the step into starting up a company of their own.
Everyone has their talents and strengths, and each of us can use them for good! Even if it’s in a seemingly “small” way, it can make the biggest difference on the lives of others – and you!
That’s what Zoe decided to do – she had a few degrees under her belt with studies in global supply and fair trade, and she was determined to use it to change the world! She’s been doing just that with her company:
4 All Humanity sources many beautiful products, handmade by artisans, and ready for the global market. Not only are they providing jobs and the opportunities for the artisans to use and extend their skills, 4 All Humanity also gives the artisans assistance to help them grow their businesses.
In India there are laws about bonded labour (paying off a loan) – yet millions have no other choice but to work work for little to no pay. Working with Ana Art Group, artisans are able to use their skills, receive technical training, work in a safe and comfortable environment and receive fair wages – not to mention a great sense of pride in the beautiful work they are accomplishing!
The community of the Entoto Mountains in Ethiopia is made up of about 5,000 – half of whom have been rejected from their families because of being infected with HIV/AIDS.
In 2008, an outreach ministry was formed in Entoto to come alongside the community, starting a program to help the people hone skills and establish a consistent form of income:
“Impactful change starts with each of us, from individuals using their God-given talents and passion for things greater than themselves. My dream is not to reach the Entoto community. It is much greater than that. My goal is for each of these women to be impacted so greatly by this exposure that they, in turn, create opportunity just like this to empower others less fortunate than themselves. I pray that each of them may become a solution for others. I pray that this idea is deeply rooted in each of the women’s hearts, so that our whole country will dream big enough to become the change needed in our country and this continent.
This is not about profit. It is for the nation. It is not for my benefit. It is for the benefit of this nation and the world. It is for this generation.” ~Bethlehem (Founder Entoto Artisans)
The artisans of the Entoto community receive artillery shells from previous areas of conflict that have been melted down into beads. They then use the beads to create beautiful, intricately designed jewelry.
Zoe graciously answered a few questions I had about their work with the artisan groups. They have a really unique relationship with them, as both she and her husband travel regularly to connect and work with them. I love that they pursue not just the business side of things, but also care about the personal lives of their artisans!
1) I know you guys like to travel, have you been to many or all of the countries you source the work by the artisans from?
We do love to travel! I have only been to two of the countries thus far that we source from, Haiti and Guatemala. I will actually be going back to Guatemala at the beginning of January to work on Fall 2015 products! Eventually I would like to be able to visit each of the groups once a year.
2) What was it that prompted you to start 4 All Humanity?
The seed was planted in college, but the overwhelming prompting was just the realization that I had/have been so blessed and I should use the gifts that I had been given to helps those around me.
3) How did you get connected with the artisans? Were they already trained as seamstresses or in their specific skills, or were you involved in developing them?
Connecting with the artisans took awhile. I did about a year of research before reaching out to the first group in Kampala, Uganda. What lead to us connecting with our first artisan group was a lot of networking from the prior research that I had done. All the artisans have some level of skill in their specific craft, but we have also done some training with them through hands on learning.
4) Can you share a story of the impact 4 All Humanity’s work with these artisans and the co-ops / ministries has had on theirs and your lives?
Every time that I get to meet the artisans or see the orphans that are supported through our education program my life is changed forever. Getting to see their lives better because of 4 All Humanity and the purchases that people make is such a blessing!
We work with a Christian non-profit in Guatemala and through the work with them this coming January we will be able to do work on 4 family homes. The work will include putting on new roofs and installing more efficent wood burning stoves. These familes will no longer have leaky roofs or smoke filled homes!
5) What encouragement can you offer to someone who is seeking to make a difference through extending a hand to others, either financially, by starting a business like 4 All Humanity or just wanting to change the way they shop?
Small actions matter. There have been plently of times that I asked myself if what I’m doing matters or if it’s really making a difference. In those moments I have to remind myself that even if only one life is changed then it is all worth it. I think people feel stuck and do not act because they don’t think that they can have a large impact but it’s really the small actions that add up to make a difference.
Do what you can now because it matters.
They kept me really warm on a girl’s weekend in Niagara Falls, and the fact that they’re “glovelets” allowed me to still have my hands free to take some great pics ;0)
The knit products are all made of Alpaca wool, which can be quite a labour of love – sometimes it’s a whole 2 day process! This is a quote from Olinda, one of the women who knits for 4 All Humanity:
“KNITTING IS A WAY FOR US TO FOCUS OUR CREATIVE ENERGY AND TRANSFORM MATERIALS THAT REFLECT OUR PERUVIAN CULTURE AND HERITAGE TO SHARE WITH THE WORLD. USING OUR HANDS IN THIS WAY, WE ARE ABLE TO INVEST IN THE EDUCATION AND WELL-BEING OF OUR CHILDREN AND OUR COMMUNITIES.”– OLINDA
You know the ripple effect? How a ripple starts off small and then spreads out into a greater and greater circle, covering much more area? That’s what we’re doing here. If each of us does something small or makes a small change, it has a greater and greater impact on others around us. So don’t be overwhelmed when you’re faced with a desire to do something but you’re not sure where to start.
No matter how big, or how small…..The key is that you DO SOMETHING.
And remember, your purchases DO make a difference.