Every month I feature an organization or cause that is changing the world in real and practical ways. This month I am excited to feature one of my favorites! To read more about the causes I’ve featured, visit my Featured Causes page.
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through the links I will receive a commission of 15%. All opinions are my own, and I have received no advance compensation for this post. Further details below.
What if your shoes could be used as a weapon against gang violence?
And not just your shoes, but your scarf…your necklace…your bracelet and earrings and your purse, too.
What if by buying cute accessories – that you’d probably buy anyway, honestly – you could be a part of a partnership that helps women and men and families who live in some of the world’s worst slums? What if by buying yourself or a loved one something special, you could empower real people in some of the worst neighborhoods in the world to stay away from gang violence?
Through The Root Collective, all of that is actually possible in very practical ways.
I met Bethany, the founder of The Root Collective, at the Allume conference last fall. I was initially attracted to her sponsor table by the colorful assortment of CUTE shoes (OH, the shoes….!) on her table, but once I approached her, Bethany herself captivated me. She told me the story of The Root Collective, and I knew I had to get involved.
The Root Collective is the product of Bethany’s witnessing of the cycle of poverty and gang-related violence in the slums of Guatemala. After her first trip there, she wanted to fix the problems she saw there but realized that the problem was too big and that there was only one of her. Here’s what she says happened next:
“The problem-solver and the doer in me had to shift directions. My desire to fix changed into a desire to partner. It was humbling. I realized that I couldn’t fix anything for the people who lived in La Limonada, but I could come alongside them and tell them that I believed in them enough to invest in them. And investment is what brings about change.
We don’t employ the artisans who produce our goods. They own their own businesses. The Root Collective partners with them as an equal. One business supporting another.”
Is that not beautiful? So often missions work moves into poverty-stricken and developing areas with an attitude of, “Here…let me do it for you…,” but The Root Collective humbly stands back and simply asks, “What do you need? And how can I help you get there?”
You can read more about the cycle of gangs, violence, and poverty in the areas where The Root Collective works on their website, but we need to get to the really amazing stuff. THE PRODUCTS.
The artisans who work alongside The Root Collective are incredibly skilled and masterful workers. They create some of the most beautiful shoes, scarves, jewelry, and handbags you can imagine. I grabbed up a pair of the ballet flats immediately.
The Root Collective: The people behind the products
The pictures speak for themselves, but can I tell you about one of the PEOPLE behind the PRODUCTS? This is Otto, the chief shoemaker for The Root Collective:
And this is La Limonada, the slum in Guatemala City where Otto was born.
Because of the opportunities Otto has to own his own business through a partnership with The Root Collective, Otto has been able to rise above the poverty and violence that would have otherwise defined his life in La Limonada. Otto makes the shoes – like my ballet flats – by hand, and trains others within his community to make a living for themselves in the same way. (And if you’re on Instagram, search the hashtag #OttoMadeMyShoes.) Otto – like all of The Root Collective parter artisans – owns his own business and sets his own prices, thereby insuring that he receives a fair wage for his work and talent.
Because I’m featuring The Root Collective all month, I’ll share some other artisan stories in the coming days and weeks. Please come back to read more.
How can you help?
The Root Collective has a beautiful – I mean beautiful – selection of shoes, jewelry, scarves, and handbags. In addition to helping to support the individual businesses of our artisans, 10% of your purchase goes toward the nonprofits on the ground in the communities where our artisans work. They are working in practical ways to bring about real change – and with The Root Collective, you can be a part of that world change.
Stay tuned to learn more about The Root Collective’s artisans and to hear more from Bethany, TRC’s founder. I am so excited about the work they are doing that I have signed on as a blogger affiliate, which means I am partnering with them over the long term to help get the word out about their products and mission. In exchange for my participation, I will receive a percentage from every sale that passes through my affiliate link, found here.
What is your favorite product on their site?