I am constantly on the lookout for people, places, brands, designers and organizations who are doing good work. While my consciousness has developed over time, I see through an evolved lens which includes contributing towards making this world a better place to live. And not only for the here and now, but for future generations as well. I think about having a baby, and my friends’ who are either pregnant or already have children, and believe it’s critical for everyone to pitch in to ensure we are taking care of this planet from both an environmental perspective and emotional one too. The human race has taken enough advantage of mother earth and raising our awareness around social responsibility is imperative. With that said, when I met Rebecca Gardner, Founder and Executive Director of Hands Producing Hope, “an ethical brand with a heart to see artisans around the world empowered to rise above poverty and live heathy and full lives”, I was eager to feature her in a Your Soul Style spotlight post to share her story.
Rebecca established Hands Producing Hope (HPH) after returning from a trip to Costa Rica and experiencing first hand the hardships indigenous women of the Guaymi community were facing. In an effort to change the outcome for what seemed like a hopeless situation, Hands Producing Hope was created to give economic opportunities through the sale of fair traded artisan goods made by theses local women. The organization provides life skill classes, and the necessary training to aid the community in reaching economic independence, and “understands the importance of working hard and earning a living which is why these women are creating goods that are full of their heritage, culture, and made by them.” The collection includes items such as jewelry, t-shirts, stationary and much more. A small investment which can make an incredible impact. I stand behind the mission of Hands Producing Hope, and their dedication to improving the lives of others while also educating consumers on responsible commerce, making them an organization full of incredible soul and style. I wanted to hear from the woman behind the vision so Rebecca and I had a chat that went a bit deeper. Here’s what she had to say…
YOUR SOUL STYLE: What can consumers expect in the Hands Producing Hope (HPH) collection(s)?
HANDS PRODUCING HOPE: Our collections highlight nature and culture in an elegant and subtle way. We combine metals with seeds, recycled paper with gold beads, and traditional patterns with modern styles.
YSS: How would describe the HPH aesthetic?
HPH: The HPH aesthetic is simple, innovative and earthy.
YSS: Can you tell me a little bit about how Hands Producing Hope came about?
HPH: This organization came out of my heart to see marginalized and overlooked communities of women given an opportunity to thrive, be told of their worth, and have dignified work. I connected with this community of indigenous people after living in Costa Rica during a semester in college. After spending some time with individuals from their people group and learning more about the discrimination they face, how the women are treated and the lack of opportunity they have, starting something to address these issues naturally formed.
YSS: Who/What inspires you?
HPH: I am inspired daily. I am inspired by the women in our program, the people around me who are dreaming big and taking risks, the fearlessness of children, the beauty of creation, and seeing the hope in someone’s eyes.
YSS: What inspires the HPH collection(s)?
HPH: Our collections are inspired by the world around us, nature, and the cultures the products are created in.
YSS: What countries do you currently work with? What countries do you plan to work with in the future?
HPH: We work in Costa Rica with women who are part of an indigenous tribe in the southern part of the country. Within the next year we have plans to expand into Rwanda to work with women on the remote Island of Nkombo!
YSS: Tell me about some of the positive impacts HPH has made on the people and the environment? Do you have a specific story to share?
HPH: 90% of the women in our program had never had access to a job before in their lives. One woman, Emerita, recently shared how she is thankful that she now has the extra income to buy coffee for her family. I recently received a letter from one of the women in our program, Xenovia, who shared: “We didn’t have a job in the world, but thanks to the will of God, you are helping our family move forward.” Environmentally, we have enjoyed finding new ways to utilize locally sourced natural materials. We believe that through replacing mass manufactured and environmentally harmful materials with recycled and natural ones, we will continue to have a positive impact on the environment.
YSS: Who are some of your favorite socially responsible brands and designers?
HPH: I absolutely love Sseko Designs, Krochet Kids, Better Life Bags, SoloHope, Dot Products, and 31 Bits. We find inspiration and encouragement from each of these companies, not to mention where I like to buy my own products or gifts!
YSS: Who would be your dream collaborator? What stores/sites would you like to see HPH sold on?
HPH: One of my dream sites to be on would be the Tom’s Marketplace. It would be an honor to be on their site alongside so many brands that I look up to and respect and the exposure that we would gain could help us grow tremendously.
YSS: How would you describe your own style?
HPH: My style is neutral and versatile. On any day you can find me in a pair of dark blue jeans or a maxi skirt, a striped shirt and if I’m not wearing HPH jewelry I am wearing something vintage or from a country I have visited.
YSS: How does your own style influence HPH?
HPH: My own style has influenced the color schemes we choose, the types of raw materials we buy, and often the designs themselves. I enjoy drawing inspiration from my personal style but seek to expand past it and offer colors and designs that I may not be drawn too but our customer loves.
YSS: What is your favorite piece in the collection?
HPH: My favorite piece is the Naia Necklace. I love the combination of the white seeds with the bronze chain. It is versatile and a classic.
YSS: Where do you see the brand/organization in the next 5-10 years?
HPH: Within that time we plan to have over 100 women in our program and to make micro-loans and grants available for women who are leaving our program to start businesses or take classes. We plan to work in at least 4 remote communities around the world and have a program in the USA for refugee women. In addition, we hope to begin a mentorship program for young, socially driven entrepreneurs to receive guidance, hands on learning, and encouragement.
YSS: How does someone get involved?
HPH: Hosting a Trunk Show is the best way to get involved! It is a great way to share our products, our story and the importance of ethical fashion with your friends. Other ways include volunteering, interning, donating and of course shopping from our online store!
YSS: What is the ultimate goal for HPH?
HPH: Our vision is to see all people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or geographical location, be afforded opportunities to have dignified and respectable work, to provide for their families and flourish in their communities. We want to see a universal growth in an understanding of the impact an individual can make with their time, resources, and talents.