Who are you? & can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Jennifer Olson. I recently got married this past June to my wonderful husband, Austin Olson, whom I love very much. I was born and raised in Northern New Jersey and now I live in Virginia with my husband. I’m a lover of books and running these two things are my go-to’s for when I need to unwind and refresh from a busy day / week. I love people and I love to entertain and help others. I care deeply about those suffering in this world and wish I could extend a helping hand to everyone in need. My passion is helping fight human trafficking around the world in all forms and encouraging others to join hands in the fight as well.
What exactly is Jars of Hope?
Jars of Hope is an LLC committed to ending slavery. We are a growing Christ-centered business, selling necklaces with the purpose of fighting against human trafficking. Each one of our necklaces supports a different organization around the globe. With each necklace sold, 50% of the proceeds go directly to that organization. All of the materials used to make these necklaces are ethically sourced from the United States to ensure there is no forced labor in any of our material. And the glass glitter, used to fill the jars, is from a small family business in Europe who has been operating for more than 50 years.
What inspired you to start Jars of Hope?
If I could explain how Jars of Hope started in one sentence it would be that God allowed this organization to be founded by His divine providence and grace. All glory be to Him. However, there is a background story to how Jars of Hope started and to be honest it is not very clean cut but here it is in short:
I found out about human trafficking my junior year of high school and the reality of this issue absolutely broke my heart. I had listened to the testimony of a woman who was trafficked in the United States by her boyfriend and was enslaved to years of abuse and neglect. This woman explained how she had bad relationships with friends, boyfriends and family members growing up. She explained how she had deep insecurity issues and was looking to find her place in the world. These words struck me to my core because at that time I was experiencing the same struggles.
I dedicated my life to Jesus my junior year of high school and I couldn’t help but ask the Lord, “why wasn’t that me?” It could have been me that was trafficked and led astray but he chose to call me to Himself for a specific purpose. To God be glory.
I praise the Lord that this woman came to know Jesus Christ and after hearing her testimony I needed to take action to help fight this injustice.
I was broken by the immense amount of poverty and injustice flooding our world today and I wanted to do something to help. During my sophomore year of college I began painting mason jars that focused on a different issue each month. For example, the first month was focused on the issue of jiggers in Africa and we donated 100% of the proceeds at the end of the month to an orphanage in Kenya. People would receive information inside of the jar about the issue and how they can help others further.
A few months into this not so crafty project of mine I felt the Lord wanted me to direct the focus of the mason jars entirely on human trafficking. Shortly after the focus shifted, the idea for necklaces came about. The necklaces were filled with regular glitter and tied with string. Fast forward a few more months and the idea for glass glitter came about to represent God taking the broken pieces of our lives and making them into something beautiful. The progression and growth of this business is solely by the grace of God. Without Him these ideas would have never came to be and the connections made over the few years in business would never have been made. I pray this business continues to grow for His glory and more people would come to know of His great love for us.
The story of how Jars of Hope started is certainly not an average business startup story. To be honest, when this began I had ZERO knowledge of anything about business and at times I really doubted I could continue doing this because I felt so unqualified. However, I am so thankful I serve a God who is far bigger than my current circumstances and struggles. By His grace I am where I am today and I remain confident in the fact that He will continue to carry me through.
How did you come up with the name?
The name was completely random! I came up with Jars of Hope in a diner with my mom, grandma, and sister and simply said “I’m going to call it Jars of Hope.” It was literally so random I knew it was God speaking through me!
You donate a portion of each purchase to organizations fighting slavery, can you tell us about that?
Yes! So each necklace represents a different organization we support. The organizations are chosen by thorough research to make sure the money we donate is going directly to the mission. The organizations are absolutely incredible and I am so thankful that we are able to connect with them on a deeper level through the necklace sales and donations. The volunteers for Jars of Hope also spend time writing cards for the organizations, survivors and those enslaved around the world. We send these cards with the necklaces we donate to the organizations on various occasions.
Is there a favorite product?
ALL of the necklaces are my favorite!
What is your favorite part about running Jars of Hope?
My favorite part about running Jars of Hope is seeing the impact this business has made. I love the fact that Jars of Hope helps raise awareness about human trafficking and helps fight it tangibly at the same time. I love how anyone who buys this necklace can help fight one of the greatest injustices in the world. I love bringing this community together to encourage one another and join hands in fighting human trafficking.
What is your least favorite part about running Jars of Hope?
My least favorite part about running Jars of Hope is doing accounting and all the numbers stuff! At this time I am the only employed individual with Jars of Hope so it can be hard to manage everything.
How do you spread the word about your company?
Connecting through Instagram, Facebook, the website and our email list are some of the primary ways I spread the word about Jars of Hope. Another way the word is spread about jars is through Liberty University. Each semester girls volunteer with Jars of Hope and we host various awareness events on and off campus. These events allow people to learn about human trafficking and the organization.
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
My biggest advice to fellow entrepreneurs would be to KEEP GOING!! Don’t give up when it gets hard or you feel like no one supports you or your dreams are too big. If you are passionate about what you are doing pursue it in full force and bring others along with you – lead well.
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying? 🙂
I feel like I have a different favorite quote every week… BUT I really love this quote:
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”
― Maya Angelou
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Jars of Hope mission is to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ known through each necklace sale so people will know where true freedom is found.