Think of all the earrings, necklaces and bracelets you’ve acquired over the years. What are their stories? Do you know where each piece came from, what they are made of, or who made them? Are they proudly hung on a diy organizer or tangled up in a big I’ll-deal-with-it-later mess somewhere in the abyss of your closet?
For centuries humans have worn jewelry as symbolic tokens of protection, luck, heritage, and love. Highly coveted, these handmade adornments have been passed down through generations embodying the stories of the many lives that each had touched- building sentimental value over time. In recent years, procuring jewelry and accessories has become as mindless as ‘I’ll add fries to that’. Inexpensive replicas of trend-driven styles flood fast fashion outlets across the world. Although they too come with a story, it’s generally a much uglier one. The majority of cheaply produced accessories are made at the expense of workers, the environment and your experience as the wearer. Would you reconsider the power of your dollar if you knew that the earrings you had bought on impulse for a party might be directly linked to the abuse or enslavement of another woman?
Threads Worldwide brings value and human connection back into the accessories we wear to express ourselves. Started in 2011 by three women who met in college, the company works with artisan cooperatives in several countries to not only lift women out of poverty, but allow them to thrive. They also create life-changing entrepreneurial opportunities for women in the United States through “Fair Trade Partnerships” that enable women to establish their own jewelry business while engaging others with the power of their purchases.
In addition to being one who is very passionate about reuse, current projects have led me towards an appreciation for Indian handloom textiles. I was thrilled to find Threads’ Suraj Necklace – a design that marries the two. I love that the necklace is made from wooden beads wrapped in kantha (recycled saris) and topped with a fun tassel. The pattern-on-pattern statement piece makes solids pop and adds dimension to a simple t-shirt and jeans.
What strikes me even more about the Suraj Necklace are the stories of the artisans that make it. The sales of this necklace provide women in India the opportunity of economic advancement and social mobility. One of these women is Prema. While pregnant, Prema become widowed and found it difficult to support herself and her newborn daughter. Her uncle introduced her to work with a fair trade organization that partners with Threads. This work has provided her stability and hope as well as onsite childcare.
For those looking for a set of go-with-everything danglers to give as a gift or for themselves, the Zway Earrings answer with elegance. Meticulously constructed from recycled metals and bullet casings, the earrings are made by women in Ethiopia who are HIV positive- many of whom have been ostracized from their communities. Instead of feeling outcasted and turning to begging, the artisan cooperative that Threads Worldwide partners with teaches these women handcrafting skills so that they can earn an income in a supportive work environment.
The holistic philosophy behind Threads Worldwide connects women in a symbiotic way that knows no borders. It also reminds us of a common thread that permeates us all: compassion. It is very humbling yet empowering to know that what you are wearing has the ability to help another woman not only survive, but give her the ability to make her dreams a reality.
You can find the Suraj Necklace, Zway Earrings –and many other beautifully curated styles that were handmade by women around the world– on Threads Worldwide. If you’d like to learn more about Threads Worldwide, please check out these other articles by my colleagues at the Ethical Writers Coalition:
- “Weaving Tales of Empowerment with Threads Worldwide” by Leotie Lovely
- “Every Thread of Every Woman has a Home at Threads Worldwide” by Saint Sisters
- “Fair Trade and Sustainability Go Hand-in-Hand at Threads Worldwide” by My Kind Closet
- “Can Earrings Change the World?” by Terumah
[Sponsored Post]: Please note that the jewelry mentioned in this post was gifted to me by Threads Worldwide as a project through Ethical Writers Coalition. I only work with brands that align with my values and all opinions aforementioned are my own.