I rarely check the mail, but within this last week I found myself peaking in the mailbox on multiple occasions, anxiously awaiting a jewelry package. Yes, I do love jewelry but that’s not the only reason I was so excited for this particular parcel to arrive. And finally it did. Inside it contained the most lovely gold layering necklace next to a handwritten note that read, “Your purchase of Starfish Project jewelry provides for my housing fund.” Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.
Starfish Project is a unique jewelry company that restores hope to exploited and sexually trafficked women through shelter, counseling, employment and education. It allows consumers to purchase handcrafted jewelry that encourages us to celebrate the gifts and opportunities of other women while allowing others to taste freedom. Not only does each purchase provide employment, but 100% of the price is reinvested in the company’s mission to strengthen the lives of women.
I received the London necklace which is absolutely stunning. This $54.99 necklace is equivalent to 1.5 weeks of vocational training for a woman to help establish her independence. Each item is priced differently depending on the material and the cause it will sponsor. While the meaning behind each piece alone is exquisite, the design itself rivals in beauty. I love how easy this layered necklace is to pair with everyday clothes and how naturally it acts as a conversation starter for discussing the meaning behind it.
I had the pleasure of asking Virginia Scharf (Chief Strategy Officer) a few more questions about the Starfish Project to share with you all.
1. Who, and what started the starfish project?
Jenny McGee founded Starfish Project eleven years ago when she began visiting the red light district and forming relationships with the women there.
2. Who designs the jewelry?
Jenny McGee, our amazing CEO!
3. what do you find most challenging about your mission?
Balancing the need to have good business practices and good outreach practices. We want to hire as many women as we can while maintaining an excellent standard of care, and that can be a tricky balance because we want to hire everyone! The more customers order, the more women we can hire.
4. How do women in need find you all?
We have outreach teams that go out into the shops once per week. They bring small gifts and interact and offer the women an alternative job. It can take months for a woman to trust us enough to join Starfish Project, so our outreach teams faithfully go out each week.
5. What might your audience be surprised to learn about you all?
That Jenny McGee, our designer and CEO, barely wore jewelry before she started Starfish Project a decade ago!
The final piece of advice Ms. Scharf left me with was, “use your gifts and resources to love other people well.” If you are looking for something special to give your mother for Mother’s Day, I cannot encourage you enough to order a piece of jewelry from these amazing women. Not only can you show your gratitude towards your loved one through a fair trade purchase, but you can help empower the women whose work and talent are embedded in each piece. And if you feel compelled to be more involved, check out their advocacy program.
Photography by Kimberlee Phoenix