Dictionary's definition of an ambassador : an authorized representative or messenger
In the past months, God has really started to stir in my heart the desire to be more involved in something outside me, outside tucson, outside the country I live in.
But much of it had to do with last fall when my wonderful friend, who lives across the country from me, sent me a catalog filled with handmade, beautifully designed jewelry and accessories made by people around the world who are rising out of poverty because of it.
And while that was happening, I was currently reading Seven by Jen Hatmaker and grieving over the lack of selflessness in my life and need to be a part of something bigger with God.
That's not to say that I haven't known people and been inspired by their desire to serve those in other countries because of God's calling in their lives long before now. I remember reading Generous Justice by Timothy Keller years ago and knowing conviction but not knowing where to direct it and being so overwhelmed by it all that I didn't do much with that conviction.
Now, this is where that burden and my interested collided.
Noonday Collection got my attention.
Because I love fashion and design.
I'm an artist that loves wearable art.
But the reason I would even be remotely interested in promoting something created by other people (since I am artist promoting my own art) is because Noonday does SO MUCH MORE than make jewelry and accessories.
Noonday provides economic opportunity for people (a lot of them women) in vulnerable places in the world to make a living wage by making beautiful jewelry and accessories. They are being paid 2-4 times what they can make in their local markets which is enabling them to send their children to school, give them access to better living conditions, pay for health care expenses, earn a steady income, and give them pride, joy and self-worth that can result from having steady employment and using their God-given talents.
The staff at Noonday is also committed to training those who need it in business practices and in helping them overcome the challenges they face in their communities. They do this with the artisan groups directly or through a wholesaler, all the while, working with ethical and fair trade standards.
By their ability to pay living wages to their artisans, they are helping to prevent the making of new orphans by providing a sustainable income for individuals living in impoverished situations all over the world to get food, shelter, medical care, and education for their families. They supports several orphan care organizations as well as the option through trunk shows to donate a portion of the proceeds to bring orphans "home" through adoption fundraisers.
I can't brag enough about the impact and heart of Noonday. As I learn more, I become more and more excited that I've decided to become an Ambassador for them.
Becoming an Ambassador means that I get to share what they are doing with the women in my life and also meet and educate more women in the process. I'm doing that by creating a market place for the beautiful creations that these amazing artisans make through trunk shows hosted in women's homes and through my website.
Since I have the knowledge and know-how of jewelry making, I know that handmade items are tedious, slow-going and time consuming. No matter if it's hammering metal, shaping raw materials, weaving, sewing, beading or whatever it may be- it is not a simple process and, often times, hard to make a living doing it.
So much time and energy goes in to the creating of clothing, accessories, jewelry, etc - and because Noonday knows the worth of their work, they are providing a sustainable, living wage to these artisans - where most companies will pay no where near that (which is where that $5 shirt or pair of earrings from H & M, Target, etc comes from).
But because I've learned more about the working conditions those $5 shirts (or even higher priced pieces) are made under (where they often put in a lot of the same effort without much income to show for it themselves) - I've come to realize, I'd would much rather have a fewer amount amazing, slightly more costly accessories made by people who've been empowered to rise out of poverty, than to have 5 things that I bought at a great price costing a much greater price to those who made them. (side note: Noonday does appeal to many different price points, varying on anything from the materials used to the time put in to making them)
Now, I completely understand that for virtually all of us, it is impossible to win all battles against spending our money in places we know have fair trade or ethical working conditions for their employees.
But we can start SOMEWHERE.
If this doesn't sound like anything you'd think to be involved in, that's okay.
I can totally understand and respect that.
But start somewhere else.
For me, Noonday is just one place I chose to start.
It's inspired me to look more into where I'm purchasing from and how I can better educate myself and others in that process.
It's inspired me to continue learning more about the lives of the world's poorest and oppressed, specifically women (if you haven't seen the documentary Half the Sky, I highly recommend it) and stirred my heart to pray for them and how I can be more involved in God's heart for the nations.
I know I am by no means an expert in these areas, but I definitely plan to continue learning more and to share that knowledge.
Not only do I want to represent Noonday in what they are doing to help alleviate poverty, I want to be a messenger of truth and hope in our world.
This doesn't mean that I will stop being my own artist or quit my day job.
I'll still be an artist, still make jewelry, do photography, schedule surgeries, etc, etc.
This isn't changing the things I'm already committed to and invested in -
Just adding to it: Noonday Ambassador
So, if you have any questions about what that means or if you're interested in hosting a trunk show to learn more about what Noonday does and share with you circles of influence, please talk to me (leave me a comment, give me a call/send me a text, fb message, whatever!) and also check out some of the designs of the artisans here!
And stay tuned to find out when my launch party will be, where you can see and try on some of these beautiful pieces in person and hear more stories of how Noonday is impacting the world!