This is a paid collaboration with HandUp Global Goods and I received product for review.
A couple of months ago, after eating dinner with a friend at a shopping center near my house, I took a quick drive across the parking lot and meandered into a craft store. I carefully selected hemp cording and faux turquoise beads, crossing my fingers that my muscle memory would help me do what I had suddenly decided I needed to do: make macrame bracelets.
As a child and young teenager, I was quite the expert at the rope knotting technique known as macrame. I'd hook the end of the string onto one of my toes and hunch over for hours, weaving precise patterns and methodically adding beads until I had achieved the ideal bracelet, anklet, or choker. It was something that was easy to start and allowed for both creativity and skill development with each new bracelet.
Well, macrame is back. And no one in the fair trade industry is doing it better than HandUp Global Goods.
HandUp Global Goods is a social enterprise that employs young men transitioning out of orphanages in Haiti. In addition to providing short term income, HandUp's programs offer financial literacy, vocational training, and spiritual support with a goal to build strong, confident leaders who can build sustainable infrastructure in their own communities. HandUp stands in as a partner to women-focused social enterprises, ensuring that disadvantaged men aren't left behind by broken systems.
Though I'm a Christian, I am very careful to ask about the specific types of "spiritual support" offered through faith-based social enterprises. Our cultural biases and colonialist history as Americans can create a lot of tension - and do a great deal of harm - if we aren't careful to enter developing economies with humility and a listening ear. The team at HandUp Global Goods was more than willing to answer all my questions, and made it clear to me that 1. employees are under the spiritual guidance of a local pastor rather than an outsider and 2. HandUp's curriculum is based in the universal tenets of Christianity and is not affiliated with a particular denomination. This shows me that they are willing to engage their faith in the least harmful way while remaining within their tradition.
And, of course, the products themselves are so much fun. HandUp sent me their classic Akolad Encased Bracelet and a pair of the Pearl Macrame Earrings to review. They're each made of thin, strong cording and high quality beads, and the attention to detail is notable. The bracelets would look great in a big stack on your wrist, but my preference is to go old school, and buy a whole bunch to give out as friendship bracelets. They remind me of long summer breaks spent swimming, reading, and irritating my little sister.
That those beautiful, sun-filled memories can be conjured up from these simple but precise pieces is an indication of their connection to loving human handiwork. My hope is that programs like the one offered through HandUp Global Goods can make things a little more beautiful and sun-filled for everyone.