Friday, November 12, 2010

Insider Interview: Ethnic and Ethical Jewelry

We caught up with the women behind the company, Hands Up Not Handouts for some insight about this cultural positive company that gives money back to the women designers in the countries they reside in, such as Rowanda and Palestine. I love the sweet grass earrings that can add a pop of color to any outfit and with the holidays approaching feels good to give back to women and their special skills across the globe. Check out the interview below with Tess Sager a young philanthropist and daughter of Bobby Sager. It is Tess' goal to help people help themselves in the long term. We love this Privy find for that exact reason!
PD: What are some of the materials used for the jewelry line?
Both collections-- the bracelets and the earrings-- are made bright and lively, just like the women we partner with. In Palestine, they embroider the bracelets and pillows out of lush thread. In Rwanda, the earrings are made of sweet grass and sisal. The sweet grass is dyed in vegetable dye, then woven around the sisal in a circular fashion.

PD:The line is so colorful and fun what designer clothing line do you feel is a great fit for your jewelry line?

The lines look great with so many different looks! I have worn them with so many different designers like if I am going to a party or a fancy dinner I pair the jewelry with Alice &Olivia or Herve Leger but then I also am wear the jewelry to school when I am in jeans and an top from American Apparel. The line is so versatile. Its also a great way to give your outfit a pop of color!

PD:It is amazing that proceeds of the line are going to help women across the globe what experience inspired this company to give to this need?

Over the last 10 years (since I was 10 years old) my family and I have traveled to some of the most desperate places in the world doing the work of the Sager Traveling Foundation and Roadshow. A few years ago we were in Palestine visiting a women’s handicraft cooperative in the Qalandia refugee camp. We went into their show room and it was heart breaking for me to see so many unsold embroidered tablecloths and pillowcases. So much hard work just sitting and collecting dust. They had a special expertise and they were working so hard but they were making the wrong product. So many hours were put into those products that it became so expensive and the aesthetic did not appeal to western taste. By working together with the women we figured out how to reapply their embroidery skill to make super cool $50 bracelets that are now flying off the shelves and now over 300 Palestinian women are working on this project. In Rwanda the women and I transformed their traditional know how of weaving sweet grass baskets that look cool but lets face it – how many grass baskets do people need in New York, Paris, or Dubai? Instead we used the same weaving technique to make a line of big trendy sweet grass earrings.

After developing the products the next step in creating value was to share the stories behind the women making these accessories - to take the buyer on a journey that really connects them to the women’s lives, challenges, and dreams. I use my photography to tell the story of how buying this jewelry impacts women’s lives. They are not anonymous, they are real human beings with real challenges and real smiles. When women make money they have more say in their family and their community, more kids go to school and families eat better. Those are the life changing results that come from empowering women with this opportunity.

PD:Where can we get this 'Privy' Find?

All over but I always tell people to go to http://www.handsupnothandouts.org/ to buy our jewelry and meet the women we work with through our photos, stories and video!



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