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fair trade jewelry

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    For our annual “Thanksgiving” issue, we chat with a local woman who launched a Fair Trade jewelry and home decor business that provides women affected by poverty and human trafficking with a living wage and empowerment to rise above their circumstances.

    Trades of Hope gives employment and income opportunity to women who are living in abusive situations, the sex trade, or other dire situations.
    Trades of Hope gives employment and income opportunity to women who are living in abusive situations, the sex trade, or other dire situations.

    Imagine having the ability and will to succeed in life, but the inability to find an opportunity to do so. That’s what millions of women are facing around the world as they struggle with poverty. Whether it’s due to lacking education or a job, or because they have been affected by human trafficking, these women run into issues supporting not only themselves, but in many cases, their children as well.

    Inspired to help these women rise above their circumstances, Ashley Morgenthal started as a consultant for Trades of Hope, a company with a mission to empower women out of poverty and human trafficking through Fair Trade-sustainable business.

    Trades of Hope sells Fair Trade products made by women in impoverished areas around the world.
    Trades of Hope sells Fair Trade products made by women in impoverished areas around the world.

    “Trades of Hope works with artisans in 15 countries who hand craft all of the products offered, and then Compassionate Entrepreneurs [independent representatives] market the products through the home party model so the artisans can put food on their table, a roof over their head, get medical care, and an education for their children,” explains Morgenthal.

    Inspired by providing women living in poverty with an opportunity, Morgenthal wanted to give women a chance for a better life through sustainable business. “Women all over the world are earning a living wage hand crafting jewelry, accessories, and home decor for Trades of Hope, and are now able to provide for themselves and their families,” she says.

    The beginning of Trades of Hope goes back to Holly Wehde of Palm Coast, Florida. While attending a candle party, she had an idea, says Morgenthal. “She thought, ‘If candles and kitchenware can get into every home in America through home parties, why not use a home party business to help women all over the world get out of poverty?’” explains Morgenthal.

    Wehde then joined Gretchen Huijskens of Palm Coast, Florida. They were able to combine their passion and Huijskens’ previous nonprofit work experience in Haiti to do something purposeful. “Together they founded Trades of Hope with their then-teenage daughters, Chelsie Antos and Elisabeth Huijskens,” says Morgenthal.

    Trades of Hope was officially launched in 2010, and Morgenthal launched her individual, Cincinnati-based Trades of Hope business in August 2016.

    In addition to the Fair Trade products sold through Trades of Hope, there are several other reasons why this company is unique, Morgenthal says. Trades of Hope is not a charity or nonprofit. Rather, it is a missional business that creates a market for ethically-produced fashion accessories and home decor that serves as a link in the chain to create sustainable business for both women in underprivileged countries and Compassionate Entrepreneurs in America who market the handmade pieces.

    Trades of Hope believes that providing employment gives more long-term success than charity.

    “Trades of Hope is [of] the belief that sustainable business is a long-term solution for change over charity,” Morgenthal explains. “It’s women helping women.”

    Unlike the “party” business that has recently made its mark on the consumer industry, Trades of Hope pieces are made by real people with real needs, Morgenthal says.

    A member of the Fair Trade Federation, Trades of Hope ensures that artisans are paid fair wages, which gives them the opportunity to improve their living conditions and provide for their families. “Trades of Hope is not a typical ‘party’ business where mass-produced items are sold to benefit only the manufacturer and the saleswomen,” explains Morgenthal.

    All over the world, there are women being rescued from the sex trade, sweatshops, slums, and extreme poverty thanks to business relationships with Trades of Hope, Morgenthal says. “These women are earning incomes and finding the opportunities they’ve always been searching for,” she adds. “Meanwhile, the Compassionate Entrepreneurs in America are helping to market their products are able to own their own business and earn an income while serving as a voice to help those in need!”

    What’s more, Trades of Hope donates 10 percent of their net profits to Gifts of Hope, a charitable organization with a purpose to fight for justice and empowerment for women through life-changing causes.

    Products sold through Trades of Hope include jewelry, scarves, handbags, home decor, and stationery. “All items are handcrafted by artisans all over the world,” says Morgenthal. The prices for products range from $18 to $72, although the majority of items are in the affordable $20 to $40 price range.

    With the holidays just around the corner, Morgenthal says that Trades of Hope recently launched its Christmas line of life-changing products, including ornaments and winter home decor. “Trades of Hope is also working on developing a new artisan group in Pakistan,” she says. “The women in this artisan group have to pay to live in the Pakistani slums and are sometimes forced to become bond slaves just to pay for their essential needs.”

    Through Trades of Hope, Morgenthal says the goal is to help these women become independent and provide for their families without being required to sacrifice their freedom.

    To learn more about Trades of Hope, visit There you can learn more about the business, the artisans they work with, and Gifts of Hope. You can shop Morgenthal’s inventory of products and learn more about hosting a party or becoming a Compassionate Entrepreneur by clicking here. Like Morgenthal’s Trades of Hope Facebook page for the latest Trades of Hope news, current specials, and style inspiration.