The company I own, AshaBelle, was named because the word Asha means Hope in Hindi and Belle means beautiful. We loosely translate AshaBelle to mean “Beautiful Hope” for our purposes.
It has been a journey of faith and grit and loads of grace to get to where we are today. I’ve wanted to quit more times than I can count, but somehow the Lord steadied my soul each time enough for me to sense Him saying, “Not yet.” So we pressed on and have paid the bills and Indian staff for 3 years now. Whew.
It was three years ago this month that Jon and I were back in Delhi, had hired our team, and set to work. There were a million bumps and setbacks. I was told I was crazy to run a business with 4 kids at home (well, that’s what they know, I have 5 now!) and that it would be more of a drain on me and my family than I realized. But with passion for the cause of helping women thrive, we began.
In the back of my mind has always been the thought, “If it were me (living in dire poverty with small children without any job prospects), then what would I want someone to do?” The answer continues to be, “I would want someone to see me and my situation and to offer me hope in a better future. To put me to work doing dignified labor for fair wages. Give me the opportunity to provide for myself and my family.”
So that’s what we try to do. With our little team of artisans, we work to provide economic opportunities to vulnerable women living in a particular community. These women have little skills and have barely seen much of life outside the slum or the village they moved to Delhi from. It’s astonishing to me as someone who has had the privilege of being born in the US, educated, and has abundant resources that allows me even to be able to sit down at my computer and type this post.
We have plodded along, making like-minded friends and learning valuable lessons along the way. Developing the necessary grit to keep going when things look bleak or the future, uncertain.
I suppose it’s why I’m not really worried about September. That at the beginning of our busiest season we are having to relocate from our current space we’ve used for three years. This business that began as an outreach is being launched from the nest to see if it can fly on its own. At first, because of the way it happened, I felt deeply wounded. The back story isn’t relevant in this space, but I firmly believe that what some have intended for harm, God can use for good.
August is a month where I want to see a miracle happen.
I want to see sales go through the roof this month and a big door open up for a cozy, safe, affordable space for our Delhi team.
I want advocates to rise up and champion our ladies and our mission.
I want women to feel empowered because they are empowering other women by keeping them employed.
I want a community to rally behind our little business and hold us up.
I want so many things for us that I cannot accomplish on our own without other women who feel this same desire to empower others.
This may be our last month of production, and if so, I have peace about that. But I hope it’s not. In fact, I really don’t feel like it will be. But I’m holding all things with an open hand and not stressing myself out by trying to make things happen.
When we look back on this chapter of the story, I hope it’s one that builds our faith and gives us courage. I hope we are able to continue to challenge women to #tellastorywithyourjewelry and to promote this idea that how we spend our money matters tremendously to the people who make our products.
And it’s funny that I never set out to create ethically made products, or learn about fair trade, or women’s empowerment, but in the process of building AshaBelle, my eyes have been opened to so much I never would have thought about before. What a gift.
We created these earrings above to be a visible symbol of hope. That our name and its meaning are not random, but tell the bigger story behind the products our team creates. Every life has a deeper story than the one we see on the surface; every vulnerable woman employed has unspoken dreams and desires for herself and her family. Or maybe she doesn’t and she needs to be reminded that it’s ok to dream again. That’s the power of hope.
That’s the state of things with me. August feels huge, and exciting, and terrifying. So let’s see what this next chapter in the story holds…