Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Mallery Neptune and I am a mother in ministry, directing a nonprofit organization that focuses on education, job creation and orphan prevention. I have two little boys who keep me laughing and active. I love quiet moments and vision casting with my husband, catching up with friends over coffee, and authentically pursuing Jesus. I spend 9 months of the year with our ministry in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and the other 3 months in the states (primarily in Michigan), traveling and speaking to promote the mission.
What exactly is Gift of Hope?
Gift of Hope is an ethical fashion initiative based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti protecting people and our earth. We are breaking the cycle of poverty through job creation and orphan prevention. Through creation and sales of clothing, purses, accessory bags, jewelry, home décor, children’s products and more, our customers are directly reducing the number of children orphaned by poverty.
What inspired you to start Gift of Hope?
Across Haiti there is a poverty orphan crisis. There are tens of thousands of orphanages filled with children who have living parents. Often times these orphanages are places of abuse and corruption, despite pretty pictures on social media. Children are being used as business and it’s appalling. Parents in Haiti are abandoning their children into these orphanages because they do not have financial means to feed, clothe, and educate them. After watching the heartbreak of abandonment happen over and over again, we had to do something. Poverty should not create orphans. We began to ask mothers if they were given a job and had a steady income, would they want to take their children back, or would they change their mind on leaving them in an orphanage. Over and over again their answer was a resounding “YES!” And so Gift of Hope began, offering mothers the opportunity of work so they could provide for their children and remain a family.
How did you come up with the name?
The gift of employment provides hope to the mother in poverty that she can keep and raise her children. It truly is a “gift of hope”.
You are protecting people and our earth, can you tell us about that?
Women in poverty and their children are largely unprotected. They are subject to domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse, and other unspeakable pains. Our goal to raise families out of poverty is a holistic effort to educate and empower the entire family system. We work to provide love, stability, and dignity for our employees and their children, because people matter most. We also partner to reduce waste with companies who make or use high-end fabrics. Remnants and fabrics that would have otherwise been burned in landfills are now being repurposed into handbags, accessory bags, backpacks, pillows, home decor, and more. Many pieces in our jewelry lines also include recycled or repurposed pieces, like our bottle cap earrings, paper beads, or majok seed jewelry. Even our children’s collection has repurposed elements like the recycled cereal bags found in the crinkle ears of the elephant and teething ring. We have been given one earth to live on. Protecting creation now, and for future generations is important to us.
Is there a favorite product?
Personally, my favorite product is our bottle cap earrings. Taking a resource that is commonly thrown away, our recycled bottle cap earrings are flattened and transformed into jewelry that is contemporary and environmentally friendly. We have recently added a brand new twist on them, adding paint color to the bottom half of the earring. This line is called “Be Bold”. The hands that pound, sand, and paint these earrings belong to brave and confident mothers who have been empowered to raise their children and break the strongholds of poverty.
What is your favorite part about running Gift of Hope?
My favorite part of Gift of Hope is watching these ladies transform their own lives! It is so dignifying and empowering to be given a job making beautiful things! Within weeks their emotions, sense of worth, and financial stability are completely transformed! It is such an exciting thing to be part of!
What is your least favorite part about running Gift of Hope?
My least favorite part is saying “no”. Having to look a desperate mother in the eyes and tell her that our sales are not high enough to add another employee, adding to her sense of rejection. I know there are few, if any other places she can turn to for help. I lose sleep at night worrying about those moms and the precious ones they held in their arms.
How do you spread the word about your company?
We keep our social media account updated on Instagram and Facebook @giftofhopehaiti. We also have a website with a full online store at www.giftofhopehaiti.org. We are also looking to take Gift of Hope on the road and attend retail and wholesale conferences promoting our product and mission starting this Fall!
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
The road can be long and lonely, but don’t give up. Your dreams have purpose and your passion to follow them is not a mistake. On days you feel overwhelmed, stop looking at the day to day tasks. Take a step back and remember how far your journey has brought you, and visualize the success of your goals in the future. Take a deep breath and go back to that list – one check on the list at a time, you will get there. (Oh, and if you don’t make lists, start now! There is motivation in every checked or crossed off item, not to mention it will keep you organized. I can’t imagine the mess my poor brain would be if I didn’t write everything down.)
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying? 🙂
My daily mantra is “poverty should not create orphans.” When I am feeling overwhelmed, or exhausted, or unfocused, I go back to our purpose. It’s orphaned children. They need their family back. It gives me the power and strength I need to keep going. They are not numbers and statistics to me. I hold them in my arms. I tickle them and pray over them. It’s powerful to see how employment, fashion, and shopping can allow an orphaned child to be called son or daughter again. Poverty should not create orphans.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I would like to remind you of the power that you hold. Your clothing, jewelry, home décor, handbag, etc are an extension of you. You have the power to be part of huge things like orphan prevention, freeing sex slaves, and breaking poverty simply by being intentional about your shopping. Do your earrings tell the story of empowerment? Did your purse give a child back their family? They can.