Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi! I’m Kelly Weinberger, founder of WorldFinds. I live in the Chicago area with my husband, two kids, Jasper and Sacha, and two rescue cats.
What exactly is WorldFinds?
WorldFinds is a brand of ethically-sourced jewelry and accessories that empowers women in the developing world through fair trade.
What inspired you to start WorldFinds?
I was in Nepal, in the middle of a 14-month backpack trip around the world. My husband and I had left our jobs, dispersed our possessions (this was long before kids!) and come up with an adjustable itinerary. We’d spent a lot of that time in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and I had been thinking a lot about what I wanted to do once I returned to the States. A fellow traveler introduced me to fair trade through a visit to a women’s cooperative and I had my light bulb moment. I knew instantaneously that that was what I was going to do.
How did you come up with the name?
That actually happened right around the same time, I wanted to source true ‘finds’ and not the typical items that could be seen everywhere. But in regards to who and what we are today, it’s definitely NOT the best name for us, as we design everything we sell, and we’re mostly working with artisans in India. One of the hazards of naming your business and then having it evolve!
Where are your products sold? Are they sold in stores?
We are primarily a Business-to-Business brand, and have our products in nearly 900 stores right now, museum shops, fair trade stores, clothing boutiques, gift shops and online retailers. There’s a store locator on WorldFinds.com, and you can see our complete collection there. We also have a small selection available at ShopWorldFinds.com
What is your favorite part about running WorldFinds?
It would be a combination of working with the artisans, and never ever being bored! There is always a huge opportunity for creativity in every aspect of a small business. It is truly never the same day twice! I’ve been doing this awhile and there is still so much to learn.
What is your least favorite part about running WorldFinds?
Things don’t always move as fast as one would like, working in handmade items from halfway across the world. Fortunately our customers are very patient whenever there’s a slight delay due to the weather, religious festivals, or a generator fail. 🙁
Is there a favorite product?
I personally love our metal jewelry items, but it’s our repurposed Kantha textile jewelry items that are super popular right now. They’re handmade, women-made, sustainable and fair trade. And unbelievably colorful so they look great with neutrals, and are very fun on social media.
You’re empowering women through fair trade, can you tell us about that?
We work with over 500 artisans, mostly women, and they’re able to work from their homes or in small workshops, with dignity. The long term partnerships and fair wages help them personally, as well as strengthening their families and communities. We also created a Girls Education Fund to help provide funds for the neediest of families to send their daughters to school. We are really passionate about this – in some of the more remote communities boys still take precedence and we are determined to show how important it is to ensure girls get a proper education as well.
How do you spread the word about your company?
A lot of people find us through our membership in the Fair Trade Federation; we’re also part of the Museum Store Association and Chicago Fair Trade. We show our collections at trade shows in New York, Atlanta, Las Vegas and internationally. Because we’re mostly B2B we are definitely under the radar compared to consumer brands, but we love working with our retail partners. And you can always find us on social media! @worldfinds
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
If you are feeling passionate about something, don’t let others dissuade you from pursuing it. Look at the business idea logically of course, but don’t let fear get in the way of forging your own path. We need more women entrepreneurs out there!
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying? 🙂
“She thought she could, so she did.” So often we let fear of ‘what if’s’ or overthinking paralyze us, I truly believe that your path appears once your movement begins.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Thank you for inviting me to do this!