August 21 2018

DFJ – Designed For Joy

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Founder Cary Heise on the left and Designer Kristen on the right

As the founder of four companies, devoted wife, mom of two, and committed volunteer, I’m busy– but in the best way. I’m super passionate about helping women succeed in both their personal and professional lives.

What exactly is Designed For Joy?

Designed For Joy is a living wage artisan group. We hire women with a trafficking past or those at risk for trafficking and those living with food and housing insecurities. My Co-founder Kristen Sydow is our Designer. She teaches our artisans how to create our brand jewelry and home decor. Our goal is to offer our artisans a solid job reference and marketable skills to gain full time work.

What inspired you to start Designed For Joy?

For years my friends and I have been traveling internationally with mission work partners. We’ve been prayerfully and financially supporting artisan groups around the world. I was inspired by one specific living wage artisan group in Rwanda and come home and created a U.S. based artisan group for women coming from all types of vulnerable situations.

How did you come up with the name?

Each home decor and jewelry piece is uniquely created by a special woman. Not only will you find joy in its beauty, but knowing that the woman that made your art was treated with love and respect in her workplace and paid a fair wage, you’ll be reminded that you made a positive impact every time you look at your DFJ piece.

On a higher level, we are made to be joyful through our faith.

You provide living wage jobs for women at risk for labor + sex trafficking & those with food + housing insecurities in NC, can you tell us about that?

We partner with local organizations that are serving women well such as local ministries, anti-trafficking organizations, rehabilitation centers, and prison transition groups. These partners refer women to us. We find a place at the table for every woman referred.

Is there a favorite product?

We have original designs like our Heather Feather Earrings and our DFJ Buckle Bracelet. The leather is ethically sourced- and is gorgeous! Our styles are on trend but unique enough to stand out.

Our favorite mashup product is our Melanie Foldover Clutch. Our friend Melanie is living and serving in Guatemala and she donated many amazing huipils to us. We cut the gorgeous huipils, sew a leather bottom, and add all the details like a Guatemalan street fabric liner, a colorful leather tassel, and a gold-toned zipper. It’s beautiful- the appearance, and the idea that so many women have collaborated on this one bag.

What is your favorite part about running Designed For Joy?

Those we serve and those that serve with us.

Numbers don’t matter, people do. But when I look at a spreadsheet and I see that we’ve hired over 20 women (and one man) in less than a year and were a part of their story in a time of major life transition, that feels like important work.

Our ministry doesn’t only touch our artisans, we minister to one another- the DFJ Board, our volunteers, our guest speakers or teachers, friends, and our clients.

What is your least favorite part about running Designed For Joy?

Least favorite part? As Kristen Sydow says, we are working our dream jobs!

Is there anything on the rise for Designed For Joy?

This fall we are focusing on our wholesale accounts. We are already in many states around the U.S., but we want to come to know more shop owners that find value in our mission to grow our partnerships and our impact.

How do you spread the word about your company?

Social media is my love language and we are consistent with our marketing. We don’t sell on social, we empower and equip our followers to be world changers by inviting them to be a part of what’s going on at Designed For Joy.

We have a brand ambassadors. Our Joy Ambassadors are committed to helping us spread the word on events, news, and needs with their inner circles and their reach on social media.

I’ve started several businesses in the Raleigh area and I’m rich with community of women that are business and nonprofit leaders. We walk the walk when it comes to community over competition. It’s an honor that friends invite us to collaborate with them as often as they do.

Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?

Ask for help. Reach out to those businesses and business leaders that are a few steps ahead of you. Likely they will be willing to meet and mentor you. Don’t assume anyone is “too big” to be willing to help.

Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying?

“We can change it.” We are a baby nonprofit and growing quickly. We have lots of decisions to make with little time to overthink things. We give ourselves permission to try something and if it doesn’t work the way we hoped, we know we can change it.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Trust your heart. If you think it’s your time to the next big move, take a step of faith. Talk about your passion to any and all friends willing to listen and bring them along with you.

Facebook Designed For Joy

IG @designedforjoy


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