Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Ashley Miller and I am the COO of Aid Through Trade. I first started working here as an intern while I was getting my MBA at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. After graduating, I spent 13 months backpacking around the world with my (now) husband, who I actually met while traveling (we met on the top of Machu Picchu on New Years Eve!). While we were traveling, we made a point of going to Nepal and visiting the Aid Through Trade office. It was during my stay in Nepal and the time I spent with our artisans that I realized, this is it. This is what I need to do with the rest of my life.
What exactly is Aid Through Trade?
Aid Through Trade is most well known as the creator of The Original Roll-On® Bracelet. We work with over 200 women artisans in Nepal and are Founding Members of the Fair Trade Federation. As a verified Fair Trade company, our artisans are paid a living wage upfront, work in a safe and healthy environment, and contribute to the design and production of our pieces. From the beginning, we recognized the importance of creating sustainable, fair, and dignified work for our artisans. We feel it is extremely important for these women to have autonomy and power in their own lives, which they get by working at a job that they love. Our artisans are proud of the pieces they make and love that they can contribute to their families.
What inspired you to start Aid Through Trade?
Our founder, Damian Jones, was inspired to create Aid Through Trade after he witnessed the difference a woman’s income could make in her household. Damian volunteered in Nepal with the Peace Corps in the ‘80s and he fell in love with the people there and their inherent kindness. He saw that women were trying to earn a living but their work was being exploited by the global market. He knew he wanted to help, so he started Aid Through Trade, which focused on sustainable and fair employment practices. This year we celebrate our 25th year in business.
How did you come up with the name?
Damian chose the name “Aid Through Trade” because he wanted to illustrate that the company is all about empowering women to create a life they are proud of through a job that they love. Aid Through Trade is not a charity, it’s an opportunity – an opportunity for marginalized people to be empowered to rise above poverty. By creating a fair trading partnership that focuses on ethical business practices, we are helping these women change and improve their lives and communities.
You empower women artisans in Nepal through Fair Trade, can you tell us about that?
From the beginning, we wanted to help women artisans in Nepal not only earn their own living, but also create a life they can be proud of. By working to make money, our artisans gain autonomy and a sense of power and self-worth. Not only are they contributing to their households, and helping their children, family members, and neighbors achieve their dreams, but they are also gaining a sense of purpose and independence.
Can you tell us about your Original Roll-on Bracelet?
The Original Roll-On® Bracelet is our signature item. It is a one-size-fits-all bracelet that comes with a lifetime guarantee and is made using just glass beads and hand-dyed cotton thread. The Roll-On® comes in hundreds of different colors and pattern combinations, so we’re confident there’s something for everybody! And while we know there may be knock-offs out there, we’re proud to say that Aid Through Trade’s Roll-On® is not only The Original, but it is THE ONLY bracelet of it’s kind that is verified Fair Trade.
What is your favorite part about running Aid Through Trade?
I love knowing that the work I do every day impacts the lives of more than 200 women. When I visited our office in Kathmandu, I could clearly see how important this job is to these women and their families. I feel inspired daily by our team and I feel so lucky that when I get up each morning, I look forward to going to work. We spend so many hours at our jobs, so it is important to love what you do.
What is your least favorite part about running Aid Through Trade?
Sometimes I feel like there’s just not enough hours in the day – but that’s what coffee’s for!
Is there a favorite product?
Aside from Roll-Ons® …the Uptown Girl necklace. She’s my favorite! The Uptown Girl just goes with so many different looks, and the artisans love making this piece.
How do you spread the word about your company?
Right now, we are focusing a lot of our attention on social media. We are working with different bloggers and fashion influencers to help us reach a wider audience, and this seems to be working well. Instagram, in particular, is such a powerful platform since it allows us to keep in touch with our customers instantly. I love interacting with people who wear and love our products as much as I do. It truly makes my day when I read a nice comment about how much someone enjoys a piece of our jewelry or we get tagged in a photo where I see a customer rocking some of our products! We also rely a lot on word of mouth and the kindness of our loyal customers! Thanks guys!! (Psst… #aidthroughtrade)
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying? 🙂
If it’s not fun, why do it? – Ben & Jerry’s
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Yes! Thank you for your interest in Aid Through Trade and your support. We’d like to share a special discount with you and your followers. Please enjoy 25% off your first online order with the code INSPIRE 🙂
Aid Through Trade Instagram