We make quality clothing, jewellery and accessories that improve the lives of the people who make them and keep traditional practices alive
Let me tell you how this story started...
Hi, I'm Elena Brook-Hart Rodriguez, founder of Handmade Stories, and I'd like to tell you how this all came about.
I went to Peru in early 2020 after working in the advertising industry in London creating strategies for big brands. I'd been struggling with my mental health for a while and decided it was time to take some time for myself to decide what to do next. So I signed up to a volunteering programme and off I went!
Then the pandemic hit and the organisation closed operations and told us all to go home. But I was there thinking: what are we doing here then if we’re only here to help during the “fun” times? What’s going to happen to the people we're helping now things are about to get even tougher?
So I decided to stay and start what's now known as Handmade Stories.
It's been a hell of a ride! But so far I've helped women in rural communities get their feet on the business ladder, a family of jewellers re-open their workshop, and given jobs to men in prison whose families were struggling. Although I started in Peru, my dream is that with time I can improve the lives of people in many other places.
Our mission is simple: to help communities underserved by society have a better future.
We work with artisans and women in rural communities in the Andes who don't have access to conventional jobs so they can have a source of income that's fair.
Thanks to them, we now make beautiful, quality clothing and jewellery using traditional Andean techniques, so each piece is unique and has an extraordinary story behind it: the story of the person that made it and its traditional significance.
Supporting women so they can have a better life
We’re a women-owned business. For us, it’s personal. We’re talking about real lives. They have a common dream – to educate their loved ones and to have a meaningful wage that allows for a better quality of life. They deserve to earn premium prices for a premium product, so they can have absolute joy and pride in being able to feed their families and send their kids to school. This isn’t about putting a smile on one woman’s face, it’s about changing hundreds of lives.
Giving men in prison a second chance
In Peruvian prisons, inmates can learn trades, such as creating traditional textiles through a programme called Productive Prisons. This allows them to earn money and gives them a purpose. They're also encouraged to set up their own businesses. The programme ensures they have a trade when they leave. The men set the prices for their products. We don't haggle.
Investing in families
We met a father and son team of traditional jewellery makers during the Covid-19 pandemic. They have a small workshop at the top of their house where they handcraft all the pieces they make. During the pandemic they had to close the shop and find work elsewhere.
We partnered with them so they could reopen their workshop. As every piece is handmade, each piece is unique. Luis Alberto works the 950 Peruvian silver, while his dad Leonardo polishes the stones and shells.
They want to grow and employ other people who also lost their jobs during the pandemic.