“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
This proverb is all too true for a business called Under the Tree in Northern Uganda (with business operations in Northern Wisconsin). What began as a simple way for the Gulu women to create beauty turned into a means of supporting their families.
It’s the brainchild of two friends, Kelsey Kidder and Caylin Muehlberg. They began their entrepreneurial journey in 2007 when they first learned of the needs of the Ugandan people. Feeling inspired to help yet not knowing where to begin, they traveled to Uganda where they witnessed first hand the extreme poverty and harsh living conditions the people were facing. At the end of their trip, a woman gave them gifts – paper-wrapped beaded necklaces. The young college girls realized what beautiful jewelry they were given and began to envision how this could help serve a greater purpose and work to end poverty in Northern Uganda.
If you ever get a chance to sit down with Kelsey or Caylin over coffee and learn about this business and its mission, do it. I had the privilege of doing that very thing last week. Let me tell you – there is a clear difference between many “fair trade” businesses and Under the Tree. This organization works to educate and train women to work as designers and jewelry makers – allowing them a lot of flexibility and say in what they make and the cost of their beautiful pieces. The women behind the business are unapologetically real and honest about their heart, as shown on their social media pages. You’ll find images and stories of real women – whose lives you’re directly impacting. There are no models. No marketing ploys. Just authentic stories of truth and beauty.
There are forty women who are currently employed by Under the Tree and many of them are the sole provider for their home. Some women are not only supporting a spouse or children, but siblings or grandchildren as well. Since being employed by Under the Tree, one woman was able to pay for her son’s college tuition while still providing for day to day living expenses. There are oodles of stories just like this one. And that’s why I love it!
In the short time since becoming aware of Under the Tree, I’ve seen their jewelry designs grow and develop into even greater and more elegant necklaces, bracelets, and headbands. Their beads are all covered in a water-resistant sealant keeping them safe in any weather, and they come in several different colors and designs. They’re my go-to accessories, and I won’t even admit how many pieces I’ve collected – but I will highly recommend the Margaret, the Juliet, and the Mama Molly… Ahem.
I absolutely love buying from local businesses or organizations with a cause. Why wouldn’t I want to purchase something that directly benefits an individual? Whether it be a local bike shop or an international business with a purpose, I love contributing to something greater than myself and knowing I’ve invested in something (and someone) with big potential.
Because this is one of my favorite organizations and I want you to own a piece, I am giving one green and blue Joska necklace * away! Choose one of the following ways to enter or both for a second entry.
- Comment on this specific blog post.
- Share my Instagram post or Facebook post AND follow Under the Tree on Instagram or like them on Facebook.
I’m super excited about this giveaway and the opportunity to collaborate with the women of Under the Tree! The winner will be announced April 14th at 8PM Central Time.
*The Joska necklace was graciously donated by Under the Tree Collections.