Story Behind Lifted Hopes
How It All Started
Hello and Welcome to my shop – Lifted Hopes. My name is Ramila Shahi and I run a Co-op shop in my hometown of Bhaktapur, Nepal. We make Nepal Beaded Bracelets and other glass seed bead jewelries. Please read on to know more about our co-op and why I started Lifted Hopes.
When it comes to mass production it’s obvious that cheap labor is involved. Somewhere somebody is getting the bad end of the deal, and in this case it’s the women who make beaded bracelets. But this situation became all too real for me, a former employee for large dealer that outsources the production of Nepal bracelets. In basic terms, I was responsible for going from town to town and teaching women how to make the bracelets. I was also responsible for most of the design concepts that are currently being sold throughout USA.
The large dealers had a pretty straightforward business plan – teaching each woman only one or two different designs to boost production, then exploit their desperation for work and pay them less than a fair wage. At the same time they shipped the bracelets to American wholesale buyers and made a killing in terms of profits.
My first-hand experience with all these brought about the need for things to change. I saw the faces behind the hard work and I knew their names. I just couldn’t look past the fact that these women are good people who simply want to make an honest living. More importantly, I realized they are headstrong in overcoming the odds. These are women who don’t allow their circumstances to dictate the quality of their life. Instead, they make the most of everything they get. There was no way that I could ignore the creative abilities the women showed, neither could I stand keeping them on the losing end of the deal
The LiftedHopes Shop
I decided to establish the Lifted Hopes shop and give the power back to the women who overcome their circumstances on a daily basis. There is no middleman involved or a mass production plan. At this moment there are three women who permanently work with me inside the shop, namely Dhana, Manju and Aruna. We are supported by our landlord’s son, Avi, and landlord’s sister-in-law, Kamala. Avi helps with the technical aspects of the shop, such as website creation and maintenance, while Kamala (an American resident) handles the orders to US customers.
My vision for Lifted Hope involves two specific elements. Firstly, I want to provide the makers of the bracelets with a decent wage and a comfortable working space. This is why I took out the middleman and decided to sell bracelets directly to the public. If the business can continue to grow I wants to employ at least 50 more women. Ours is still a small shop, monthly exports at this point are little over one thousand bracelets per month, which Kamala helps to bring to the American market. The second element is to bring a whole new quality to beaded bracelet designs and quality. This means coming up with new designs frequently and using only high quality beads. I also mentor and trains my team to the best of my ability.
The Beautiful Process
The Lifted Hopes shop is more than just a place that makes bracelets and sell them. It’s a place that puts out a message that cheap labor cannot be justified, no matter how you look at it. I have established an environment where women can actually make the type of wages they deserve, but it goes so much further. All the profits Lifted Hopes make gets shared equally. In other words, there is no room for fighting or competing. There is constant understanding, support and motivation between them. Lifted Hopes represents a place where they can continue to support themselves and rise above their geographic and social challenges. There’s even an emergency fund available, just in case one of the woman is in desperate need of money.
This is what direct sales from the makers accomplish and it’s what I wants to continue doing. By supporting this beautiful process, you are empowering the female artisans of Nepal. Each bracelet you buy direct from Lifted Hope comes with a story of hope, because these women have a voice, a personality and a face. While you enhance your style with these beautiful and high quality Nepal bracelets, you can regard yourself as someone who restores faith in humanity.
If you want the real Nepal bracelets made with love and passion by hard working women you are in the right place. Please support us.
I highly appreciate and thank you for your valuable time.
Also I would like to thank Jonna Barber from United Nations Development Programme’s Micro Enterprise Development for translating my thoughts and views to this wonderful article. Thanks Jonna you are great.
Also Avi, I could not have done this without you. Thanks for your time and all your input to build this website.