I founded an ethical fashion brand, Trades of Hope. Trades of Hope sells fair trade fashion + home accessories made by women who are facing poverty. However, the women we partner with don’t want charity but an opportunity. They have faced oppression, hunger, and desperation; but with a dignified job, they become self-reliant and are able to rewrite their stories with hope. Our fashion line has minimalist, simple jewelry and bold statement pieces — a style for everyone! However, the best part about our accessories is, that by employing women to make them, we are fighting for three causes:

Sex Trafficking
When a woman has a sustainable source of income, she become less vulnerable to being tricked into trafficking. Not only that, but when a mother has a job and can send her daughter to school, that little girl is also less vulnerable because she has an education!

Global Female Equality
We obviously value men, but we focus on empowering women because when you give women financial independence, more often than not they use it to provide for their family and their community. Statistically, when you empower one woman out of poverty, she bring 4 other people out with her. Empowering women helps alleviate poverty and creates a better world for everyone (men included!).

Mothers Keeping their Babies
We believe in the beauty of adoption. However, many mothers give up their babies to orphanages because they can’t afford to feed or shelter their children. It’s a heartbreaking decision no mother should ever have to face. By providing women with dignified, sustainable jobs, they can provide for their children and break the cycles of poverty.

Founding Trades of Hope brought my three greatest passions together:

• My first creative loves have always been writing + fashion. I’ll pour over pages of Vogue + Pinterest photos of Audrey Hepburn for hours. As founder I get to help develop and select the fashion pieces that release in our collections. I’ve even been able to travel to NYC (and soon India!) as a buyer at trade shows.

• Looking back over the years, it was clear I’ve always had a knack + passion for mass communication. I’ve been writing my whole life. I picked up graphic design for Trades of Hope before we had a team. And I’ve loved public speaking at churches and for audiences of women since I was 14. This lead to me getting a Bachelors in Strategic PR (minor in graphic design) and a Masters in Social Change + Advocacy Communications (emphasis in international relations).

• Founding Trades of Hope has allowed me to speak in front of hundreds every year, and it thrills me every time. I love sharing my passion, advocating for women, and inspiring others to be bold.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been passionate about women taking a stand. I remember in elementary school, having Women In History Week every years + it was always my favorite. My go-to book as a girl was about the first woman to wear pants! I’m a natural feminist who believes in equality between women and men. Founding Trades fo Hope has allowed me to empower over 13,000 women around the world!

Because I was born in Europe, I’ve been traveling my entire life. I have always been enthralled with jumping on a jet plan and being swept up in new cultures. One of my very favorite parts about my job is traveling around the world to meet the women who make our accessories. I love experiencing their traditions and learning their strong personalities! Trades of Hope alone has taken me to Guatemala, Jordan, Uganda, Kenya, and I go to Haiti every year. I get to hear these women tell their own stories. They enthusiastically share their favorite meals with me. And I fall in love with new countries in this beautiful world!

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This article is published by Elisabeth Sharing how she is empowering women.