Who are you and can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Stephanie Taylor. I’ve been married for 15 years and we have two young daughters. I grew up in the Chicago area, but at age seven we moved to the Netherlands where I lived for ten years. I loved it and speak fluent Dutch! Grateful to have been able to see and experience a lot of Europe! A few years ago I found out I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, stage three. Thankfully I made it through and have been cancer free for three years now! I joined Trades of Hope as a Compassionate Entrepreneur shortly after finishing chemo treatments and it’s been such purposeful and meaningful work for me to sink myself into! I love that I get to change the world right from my own home with these beautiful, handmade products!
What exactly is Trades of Hope?
Trades of Hope is a fair-trade certified company that exists to empower women around the world out of extreme circumstances like poverty, slavery, sex-trafficking, discrimination and oppression. We focus mainly on women since they are typically given less opportunity, paid less and oppressed more, but we also have some male artisans.
What inspired you to join Trades of Hope?
While I didn’t found Trades of Hope, I joined as a Compassionate Entrepreneur for the company. Basically an ambassador. After my battle with cancer, I found myself really wanting to do something that would not only help me pay off medical debt, but that would allow me to help others who were hurting in any way. I wanted to do something that I knew was making a difference! Not long after having that initial feeling, I found Trades of Hope through Instagram. After visiting the website I immediately knew this was something I wanted to be involved with! I loved the mission, the products and the founders’ hearts for helping women around the world! I’m two and a half years into partnering with this company and I am still head over heels!
You are working to end poverty, human trafficking and slavery. Can you tell us about that?
I’d love to! Each product we carry is made by an artisan that is facing extreme hardships like poverty, bond-slavery, gender oppression, discrimination, etc. Some may have been rescued off the streets from drug addiction, prostitution or even sex-trafficking. Some have disabilities or illnesses that hinder them from getting a job. Some can’t afford to send their kids to school or feed them enough food and will relinquish them to an orphanage for what they hope will be a better life. That’s where each artisan group steps in and gives them an opportunity to work, provide for their families, receive healthcare, medical care, counseling – whatever is needed. Each artisan group is different in what they provide, but all provide dignified and sustainable work. We partner with the existing groups in 18 different countries (incl USA) and market their products here in the States. The artisans are paid asking price (which is 3-6 times what they would normally make in their own country) and are paid before products are sold here. It’s important to know that we are not a charity organization. It’s not a hand-out. It’s a hand-up to provide them with the work they really want and need to survive and start a new life!
Is there a favorite product?
That is a really tough question, but my favorite has to be our gold Warrior Cuff! I mean look at the name! It looks like a Wonder Woman cuff and it definitely makes me feel like one! It reminds me of the warrior that I am and it gives me so much confidence when I wear it! I often give it as a gift to friends who need to be reminded that they are warriors, too!
What is your favorite part about being a Compassionate Entrepreneur?
My favorite part is definitely that I can make a difference in lives around the world on a daily basis while also helping to provide for my own family. Another favorite part is the amazing group of women (sisterhood really) that I get to work alongside of! They all have such a beautiful heart for changing the world and collectively we are making such a big difference! Better together!
What is your least favorite part about being a Compassionate Entrepreneur?
Sometimes it can be a challenge to find people who are willing to host shows, or what I like to call Hope Gatherings, and it can be hard to have people tell you no. But, I have also found so many great people who have really want to help the artisans and who have hosted great shows, earning some amazing free and half off items as a reward! They have become great, new friends as well. This business has taught me a lot about not taking rejection personally and has given me a lot of confidence in myself despite occasional setbacks like any business has.
How do you spread the word about your company?
I’m active on Instagram (@steph.trades.hope) and I have a Facebook business page that I regularly post on (www.facebook.com/StephanieTaylorTradesofHope), but my favorite way is to host Hope Gatherings online or in people’s homes! A hostess will invite her friends and family and I give them a short run down of who we are and what we do. They have to chance to view or try on products depending on the type of gathering and then they’re given the opportunity to shop our fair-trade products. This is the best way to spread the word and tell the stories of our beautiful artisans and the hardships they are overcoming thanks to the partnership with Trades of Hope! What’s cool is that our hostesses are rewarded for their efforts and can earn free and half off products based on the sales at their event! Most just see it as the cherry on the top and are so glad to have helped make a difference in the world! I love that!
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
The key is to keep going, stay positive and stay consistent! Keep going, even when you have a hard day and face setbacks. Stay positive and remember that tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities. Consistently touch your business by posting, following up with customers, working on your schedule, etc. Another big thing is to remind yourself of WHY you’re doing this. For me it’s to help women around the world and to help my family. It takes time and consistency to grow a successful business. It doesn’t just happen overnight. It’ll happen in the right timing and how it’s supposed to for you. I try to not compare my journey to others’ journeys.
Do you have a favorite quote or saying?
I have one that stands out to me that is a constant reminder of why I’m a part of Trades of Hope: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” – Audre Lorde
And one that I recently heard is a great business reminder: “Commitment gets us started, but consistency keeps us going.” – Gavin Adams, my pastor
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Thank you for asking me to be a part of this! I’m very honored and privileged to share my work with Trades of Hope. If something about us spoke to your soul, please contact me to learn more about how you can host your own Hope Gathering or even become a part of our sisterhood! The more voices we have, the more artisans we can take on and the more lives are changed for the better! Mother Teresa said it best when she said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Thank you for allowing me to cast a stone in this community! You can go to my website to learn more: www.mytradesofhope.com/StephanieTaylor