Utilizing Accessories for Empowerment: Purpose Jewelry

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Collaboration is one of the key assets that the advocacy of Dressember draws from. Partnerships paired with passion produces radical world change and our fundraising efforts over the years is evidence of that. With 1.97 million raised by day 43 of Dressember, community and connection are clearly evidenced by the global impact of this campaign. Not only do we welcome partnership and collaboration, we thrive on it. This year one of our brand partners is Purpose Jewelry, a fair trade jewelry line started by the nonprofit, International Sanctuary. By empowering women who are rebuilding their lives, Purpose Jewelry stands in solidarity with our efforts to empower and restore dignity to all.

Each unique piece of jewelry goes beyond fashion. With each purchase, a woman is fairly compensated for her work and is able to support herself through the creative outlet that Purpose Jewelry affords. Women are referred to the sanctuary by word-of-mouth and through partners including International Justice Mission and Willow International. Michelle Bridgeman, Head of Distribution, shared with us ways that you can get involved with an organization that is rebuilding and transforming lives through empowerment and artistry. “First and foremost, jewelry pairs extremely nicely with dresses. I would just encourage Dressember advocates to really go that one step beyond just their clothing and be conscious about what accessories they are purchasing” she said.

Paralleling the fashion industry, accessories are often made relying on cheap, exploitative labor. Purpose Jewelry is changing the scene and utilizing the medium of accessories as a means of empowerment.

A lot of these girls who come to work with us have low self-esteem and are not feeling like they can accomplish much if anything at all. And when they’re able to see that they have produced these beautiful pieces --that is so healing.

The structure of Purpose Jewelry affirms individual capabilities as well as fosters a healthy environment for healing and community. The jewelry making desks used are in one room purposely so that these artists are able to have a sense of community.

“They talk with each other and do life together. That is really huge for their restoration.”

Sales of their craftsmanship are communicated to them as a way to show the women that their product is selling well and warmly received as a continued means of affirmation. To further enhance involvement, Purpose has a design squad based at their India Sanctuary with women who are experienced. Artisans are able to help with prototypes.  From here, women work on designing the pieces in collaboration with a United States based designer. Women are paid fairly per piece that they produce (which to us sounds like all the more reason to purchase more pieces!).

Purpose Jewelry is working hands-on with giving women the tools for empowerment and providing an outlet for their creativity and artistic abilities to be expressed.

Dressember is talking about allowing for the dignity of women. That’s completely what we are all about. And, really, what we found as an organization is that we have to do every single thing that we can to allow for women to feel powerful to make decisions for themselves and to realize that these lies they’ve been told before coming to us are not true. And they are worthy, they are dignified” Michelle shared.

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When it comes to rewiring how we shop, it can be easy to become discouraged. What does my purchase really do? How can I make radical change when so many are still feeding into an exploitative system? Michelle remembers her own initial reaction as well and encourages the new advocate to continue with faithful baby steps.

“I really start small in baby steps and realize I can’t do everything at once but starting with accessories or something small is easier to digest and then as you’re ready, take the next step.”

Take your advocacy to the next level by shopping through the empowering pieces at their website . For more involvement, check out their opportunities to host your own trunk show and be a means of education in your friend group.


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About the Author

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Sara Kernan is a proud Alaskan that now calls Southern California home (while trying not to melt in the summer). She is finishing her undergrad program this year and looks forward to this opportunity with Dressember to be an advocate of social justice on a different level. Sara can usually be found either drinking coffee or finding a new hiking trail with her husband and going on new adventures.