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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.
We follow the principles prescribed by the World Fair Trade Organisation to ensure our practices are fair and improve the lives of those who work with us. Below are the key points that guide our practices.
We partner with marginalised small producers, such as independent artisans and women in rural communities to help them move from income insecurity and poverty to economic self-sufficiency and ownership.
We support gender equality by helping women reach economic independence. We give women in remote locations access to the modern economy so they can invest in their families and communities and lead them to a better future.
We have an open dialogue with the communities and artisans to determine fair prices for their products and work.
We provide a flexible working environment that allows them to work around their animal, land, and family schedule without having to leave their community. We travel to the communities so they don't have to travel long distances to meet us.
We have a development fund for each community where we save part of the profit from each sale and dedicate it to undertake development projects chosen by the community.
We are mindful of the environment and try to minimise our carbon footprint. We source locally produced fabrics wherever possible and use environmentally friendly packaging.