31 Bits Beading Strands of Hope
by Megan L. Anderson
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Imagine your jewelry could rescue families from war zones, alleviate poverty, and feed the malnourished. 31 Bits, a jewelry business benefiting and produced by the women of East Africa, accomplishes that and much more. Through the creativity of women determined to provide a better life for themselves and their communities, scraps of fabric and 100% recycled paper are transformed into bold fashion-forward necklaces, bracelets, and headbands popular the world over.
College student Kallie Dovel visited Uganda in the summer of 2007 and was taken by the innovative craftsmanship of the beads local women designed out of discarded materials. Noticing the lack of resources to market and turn a significant profit on their art, Dovel and a small team of friends constructed a business model to advertise and sell these exotic original designs on an international scale. Since the company’s launch in 2008, it has expanded from six to 99 designers; each of which has an inspiring story of overcoming the colossal obstacles so prevalent in their part of the world.
31 Bits channels the profits from their jewelry into programs that provide education, medical treatment, business training, safety, and support networks to their designers. Women who work with the company learn invaluable skills they need to become self-sufficient for the rest of their lives. Through the work of 31 Bits nearly 100 women and counting have gone on to fulfill dreams of running their own successful businesses, educating their children, escaping war zones, and providing food for their communities.
Looking at these elegant works of art one would never guess they are fashioned from salvaged materials. The vibrant colors, playful designs, and expert workmanship speak for themselves telling a story of redemption as unique as the woman who designed them. No matter what you order, you can be sure it is a one of a kind handcrafted piece of jewelry unlike any other. Not only will you being wearing something special, you will be doing something special for women in need.
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