Today, I am sharing my interview Elizabeth Bricknell, an incredible woman of God, who has simply said “yes” to loving Jesus and loving others, not only in her personal life but also as a small business owner.
This is the first an ongoing series called “Everyday Heroes” that will feature “everyday” women and men, who are doing extraordinary things for Jesus and others through their vocations and their everyday lives.
My hope is that this series will give you inspiration and ideas to be able to find a vocation and calling that meets the unique vision and call that God has for your life!
Elizabeth and I went to the same college. A few months ago I noticed her post on facebook about Noonday and being an advocate for fair trade. I also noticed she was rockin’ a GORGEOUS necklace. As I read about Noonday and their mission I knew I wanted you to hear about the incredible ways one women is making a difference in the lives of thousands of people around the world.
Charity: Hi El! Thanks so much for being our first interviewee in the series!
Elizabeth: Thanks for having me Charity, I am excited to share with your readers about Noonday.
Charity: Can you tell us about yourself?
Elizabeth: I’m Elizabeth, but my friends call me El.
Charity: Awesome, we’ll switch to El then, plus its a lot faster to type!
El: And I live in Longview, WA
Charity: WASHINGTON! Eeeekk that’s awesome, that’s my home state!!! Ok sorry, I am getting you off track here, so you live in the best state ever, Washington, and you….
Elizabeth: ….have been married to my youth-pastor husband of four years. We share a love for hanging out with middle school and high school kids, planning road trips the night before we leave for one and camping out for REI used-gear sales. We aren’t allowed to share milkshakes because I will inevitably end up drinking more than my share.
Charity: ha, ha…that’s awesome…my hubby and I share desserts because he only needs one bite and then he’s done, and I prefer to eat the whole dessert- its hard giving up that one bite…. Once again getting us off track here, what else do you enjoy?
El: Well with as much as I like accessories, fashion and thrift-shopping, it’s a surprise to some that I also love backpacking, camping, rafting and hiking…as long as my feet are clean by the time I crawl into my sleeping bag. I am passionate about social justice and poverty awareness and am constantly learning what it means to “love my neighbor”.
Charity: That’s awesome! You are a true Northwest girl! El, can you tell us about the company you work for, Noonday Collection?
El: Noonday Collection uses fashion and design to create economic opportunity for the world’s most vulnerable. We offer stylish accessories of uncommon value handcrafted by artisans around the world who receive a fair, living wage for their work. Many of the artisans come from destitute situations and your purchase enables them to provide for life’s basic necessities.
In addition to providing sustainable income for our artisans, a portion of the profits will help place an orphan in a forever family. Since you decide where your money goes, you can use your purchasing power to create change in the world.
Fashion is utilized to restore dignity to abandoned women in Ethiopia (they make amazing jewelry out of up-cycled artillery weapons), empower communities in Ecuador (they turn seeds into beads), and create business opportunities for Ugandans (high school graduates are earning scholarship money for university by making sandals).
Charity: Wow! I love it, that is one of the most amazing business visions I have ever heard. Can you tell us about your role as an Ambassador and how you became involved with Noonday?
El: I was ruined in 2007 when I spent 4 months in El Alto, Bolivia, meeting and befriending women and very young girls who were bought and sold for sex and money. It was there I discovered slavery still existed…in the form of 27 million people around the world. I came home with an overwhelming call to advocate for the poorest of the poor.
Last year, I began to think about a different dimension of slavery, those who are not paid fairly for their work and forced into unsafe conditions. I committed to shopping fair trade for Christmas, and it has since changed how I think about everything I buy. A few months later, news of the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh left me a weeping mess. I checked the tags on my clothes and was shocked by how many things I’d purchased in the name of a good bargain, without any regard to how humanely it was made.
Anyways, I started researching fair trade companies, thanks to a swift kick in my bootie by author Jen Hatmaker and her book : 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, which identifies areas of excess in our life. Her book helped me discover Noonday and I fell in love. I could combine my passion for advocacy with fair trade shopping and empowerment!
Charity: That sounds like a must read book! What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to learn more about how to buy fair trade in every area of their life: clothes, food, household goods ect…
El: I wrote a blog post called “The Costly Bargain” that explores some tangible ways to be conscientious consumers… I’ve also started pinning a whole bunch of sites on my Pinterest board. People can follow me: @elizbricknell
Charity: Thanks so much El, that is great information! What is your favorite part about being an Ambassador?
El: Noonday gives me a platform to use my voice and influence to advocate. Noonday has opened doors to share with people I wouldn’t have otherwise had an opportunity to get to know. I get to encourage, inspire and challenge people to shop differently! With every dollar we spend in the marketplace, we cast a vote by saying what’s important to us. Shopping is a form of activism!
Plus, wearing bold, gorgeous accessories are an obvious bonus!
Charity: Definitely a bonus! What challenges have you faced starting a small business?
El: Simply put, I’ve had to get over myself! I’m learning to stop apologizing or feeling bad for asking someone to host a trunk show or buy something. The purchases made through Noonday Collection are literally changing lives (and saving lives) around the world and our artisans are depending on me for work. If I don’t sell what they are making, they can’t employ more people. I have made cold calls inviting people to host (so uncomfortable and unnatural for me!), and have sent catalogs in the mail to people I barely know, hoping they’d catch the vision and want to be part of what I’m doing.
I had a very successful start (I even got my picture in the Noonday catalog!) but have recently been facing a slow season that is discouraging. This is when I pray for boldness and receptive hearts to the mission of Noonday. Once people know about Noonday, it doesn’t take any convincing that “this isn’t your average jewelry party.”
Charity: You are so gorgeous, girl, inside and out! I was thrilled to see you featured in the fall catalog. Congrats! How do you see your role as an Ambassador fitting into the call on your life?
El: For one, I feel alive! Early in my marriage, I faced a lot of discouragement because when I got engaged, I left my dream job and moved so we could get married. I was unemployed and I wasn’t exercising my creativity and talents. During that time of confusion (and many a-sleepless night), I could sense God rekindling my passion and refining my skills. He really used that time to teach me about patience (why is that always such a hard lesson to learn?), loving others, and His church.
Secondly, the Bible is full of commands (not suggestions) about caring for the poor and the widow. The book of James talks about actions accompanying faith, and I’ve become overwhelmingly convicted by
James 4:17 “If anyone knows the good they ought to do and does not do it, they sin.”
I’d be sinning if I wasn’t examining and modifying my shopping habits! God has called me to advocate and I love that advocacy is my job!
El: My favorite story hails from Ethiopia, where our artisans are turning melted down artillery into beautiful pieces of jewelry. Most of the women in our artisan group have been abandoned by their husbands and/or are HIV+, which is a death sentence without the proper care. These women fled to Entoto Mountain, where it was believed that healing waters flowed. The false promise of healing drew thousands upon thousands up the mountain where they were just waiting to die – they had no hope, livelihood or income.
Through a number of divine appointments, these women started making and selling jewelry, gained access trough the opportunities associated with simply having a job, these women have access to life-saving medication and are being told they are loved, valuable and cared for.
What once was meant for destruction and harm (artillery), is now being used to proclaim beauty and hope for these women! This is the beauty of REDEMPTION! We’ve even heard one of our artisans say they once thought the water could heal them, but now they know it is only Jesus! Hallelujah!
Charity: Wow, that is a crazy, powerful story! If any of my readers are interested in becoming involved with Noonday?
- You can subscribe to Noonday’s newsletter here.
- Interested in partnering with your local ambassador to host a trunk show? It’s easy and FUN! All you have to do is fill your home with your girlfriends and your ambassador will do the rest. She’ll bring stories and pictures of the artisans and you get to try on all her samples. Fill out this form and someone will contact you.
- Interested in learning more about becoming an Ambassador in your own community? I’d love to answer your questions and add you to the sisterhood! Contact me: Bricknell.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Want to know about additional fair trade resources? Follow me on Pinterest; I’ve pinned fair trade ideas for men, women, kids, Christmas, etc.. @elizbricknell
Charity: Any favorite Noonday items you would recommend as Christmas gifts?
Falling Mukisa Necklace (made out of paper beads in Uganda)
Tangled Beads Bracelet (made out of melted down artillery shells and bullets in Ethiopia)
Tagua Seed Bracelet (made out of tagua seeds in Ecuador)
Water Drop Prism Earrings (beaded in India)
Picked Plum Scarf (hand-woven in Guatemala)
Tea Towels (screen printed in India)
They each come packaged with a cute card detailing Noonday Collection’s cause and where the item was made.
Charity: El, I am so thankful for the vision God has put in your heart to advocate for others and I hope many of our readers will support your incredible business. How can my readers order these gorgeous accessories?
El: You can shop anytime from my website: Just be sure to select “Elizabeth Bricknell” as your ambassador on the check out page.
**************For delivery by Christmas orders must be placed by December 17th!******************
Charity: Thanks so much El, you have given me and I am sure my readers a lot to think about!