Trades of Hope: Making empowerment a trend

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Today, we're highlighting one of our amazing brand partners, Trades of Hope! We are committed to partnering with ethical brands and spotlighting them every Friday as a way to encourage us all to be better consumers. Enjoy our interview with Elisabeth Hujskens of Trades of Hope.

Trades of Hope co-founders, Gretchen Huijskens, Holly Wehde, Chelsie Antos and Elisabeth Huijskens had many reasons for launching Trades of Hope back in 2010.


For Elisabeth, the passion for other cultures and fighting poverty worldwide started at only 8 years old.

I started traveling multiple times a year to Haiti, where my family had started an orphanage and school,” Elisabeth said. “I grew up seeing first hand that poverty is an endless cycle and that charity work was not breaking that cycle. The community around our orphanage and school was not changing. It was still in poverty after 10 years.

This, of course, didn’t sit right with her, and that manifested into the idea to start her own organization. She started to learn about job creation and how to start a sustainable business.

I was inspired by how a woman in poverty could change her life if just given the opportunity!” Elisabeth said. “The other Founders, Gretchen, Holly, and Chelsie all knew of the heartbreaking realities women in poverty were facing. And we could not turn a blind eye. But we also learned something else: These women facing poverty didn’t want charity. They just wanted an opportunity.”

Trades of Hope focuses on empowering women out of poverty through sustainable business. The women they serve are proud women who want to make a difference.

Trades of Hope partners with artisan women in over 16 countries and has helped over 13,000 people in the year 2016 alone. Close to the heart of Dressember, Trades of Hope works with women who have been sexually exploited. They became a brand partner through one of their Compassionate Entrepreneur's, Tracie.

"These women facing poverty didn’t want charity. They just wanted an opportunity."

For Trades of Hope, they strive to be more than just an online store.

We want to be a movement,” Elisabeth said. “To do that, we invite women in America to join Trades of Hope as Compassionate Entrepreneurs. These Compassionate Entrepreneurs sell our line of ethically made accessories to create a wider marketplace for the products our artisan partners make.

Trades of Hope offers a multitude of products, especially jewelry.

Some of my favorite pieces are the Carmella Studs from India because they’re so small but intricate!” Elisabeth said. “The Golden Kenyan Necklace is also a go-to because it’s an adjustable necklace, plus I love that it’s made by women with disabilities who finally found an accepting place to work. Last but definitely not least, I love the Beloved Necklace. It’s made in Guatemala, and has a charm with the fingerprint of the woman who made it! It’s so special and reminds me of the women we are empowering!

This year, Trades of Hope is offering all Dressember advocates who raise $250, $500 and $1000 some of their ethically made accessories as a way to reward them for their advocacy.


Advocates who raise $250 will receive a pair of our Grace Earrings, which are named after the strong women who made them in the Philippines.


All advocates who raise $500 will receive the Grace Earrings and a Virtue Bracelet, made by women in Thailand.


All advocates who raise $1,000 dollars will receive the items above, plus the Mosaic clutch made by women in Guatemala who upcycle their traditional blouses.

Trades of Hope has made a huge, positive impact in the past 7 years for women worldwide.

There are so many women who have overcome such devastating obstacles with Trades of Hope. They are my inspiring North Stars and teach me so much about strength and bravery,” Elisabeth said.

In particular, Elisabeth mentioned Ms. Florence, from Uganda, who has been a Sudanese refugee and war survivor.


Through her work with Trades of Hope, she has become a mother to many adopted children, the leader of one of our artisan groups in Uganda, and is a local political leader in her community,” Elisabeth said.

Another story Elisabeth said stuck with her was of a woman named Gina, from Haiti, who was looking for an orphanage to relinquish her baby daughter because she couldn’t afford to take care of her.


Gina start created jewelry for Trades of Hope, and today her daughter plays in the daycare downstairs where Gina works,” Elisabeth said. “They now have a bright and promising future ahead together!

Elisabeth said she wants advocates to know that they can change the world right from where they are.

These are women who have a heart to directly empower women around the world, even in the midst of their everyday lives,” Elisabeth said.  “Compassionate Entrepreneurs find a purpose (empowering women out of poverty), earn an income (so you can making helping people your job and help your own family), and find a sisterhood (meet an encouraging community of like-minded women).

Thank you to Elisabeth at Trades of Hope for sharing with us! To visit Trades of Hope and learn more about their Compassionate Entrepreneurs, follow the link below.

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About the Author

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Miranda Lintzenich is an analog girl stuck in a digital world. A little quirkier than most, Miranda enjoys 70s music, odd clothing styles, working at her school newspaper and serving pizza on the side.