At Greenola Style, our dream is to not only impact the lives of each artisan we work with in Bolivia, but to create a ripple effect in the communities they reside. With Norma, together we are improving a community. Norma Guzman leads the production of all our recycled aguayo jewelry. Through the Greenola Style partnership, her life has changed to the point where she has the capacity to help others in her own community.
Jen Moran, the founder of Greenola Style, met Norma in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2009. At that time Norma sold her own designs in the market with her husband, Pablo. Norma was one of the first jewelry artisans to work with Greenola Style, and she has flourished incredibly.
Through our partnership Norma has created an opportunity for her son, passing her success down to the next generation. Her son, Pavlo, now manages her business in Bolivia. What was once one woman working for Greenola Style is now a family business. The Guzman family now employs people within the community to help craft Greenola Style aguayo jewelry. Since working for Greenola style, Norma has been able to pay down loans that she acquired from a previous business, her home, and her children’s education. More importantly, Norma has been empowered to help her family create a small business that provides a living wage in order for her and her community to rise above poverty in Bolivia.
Here at Greenola, we love ourselves a strong, beautiful, and talented woman. Cue in rising star, Ashley-Lauren Elrod, who modeled some of our Spring/Summer 2013 pieces. A Chicago singer, this down-to-earth lady does WAY more than just that. Ashley is also a painter, violinist, dancer AND actress (She was on The Mob Doctor!). Meet the woman behind that sparkling smile and awesome hair.
1. What 5 words would you use to describe yourself?
Humble, tenacious, loyal, free-spirited, selfless.
2. Tell us about your single, Warrior.
Warrior was written in my time of need. I’ve always thrown my emotions into art, and I was going through a rough patch when the song came to me. It’s a song to help others feel empowered and driven to pick themselves up when they are down and afterward helping someone else to do the same.
3. Apart from music, what are your other talents?
Apart from music, I’m an actress, dancer, painter, violinist, and currently learning to play guitar and the piano! Along with that busy schedule I love art direction and direct photo sessions in my spare time.
4. What do you think makes you a Greenola girl?
My willingness to put others needs before my own. I am a music activist for the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center and Project AK-47. Both organizations aid in helping children, CCAC helping abuse victims and PJAK-47 helping to save child soldiers from battle. I throw myself in caring for others and fighting for their rights. Greenola serves the same purpose by helping to change lives and bring fair and equal opportunity to women all over the world which is why I love it! It’s an honor to be a Greenola girl and help with this cause as well!
5. What’s your favorite piece of clothing/jewelry in our Spring 2013 collection?
Everything is seriously AMAZING, I love it all. If I had to choose my favorite piece of clothing it would be the Marrakech Shirt Dress and for jewelry I am in love with the Calypso ring collection, it’s absolutely stunning
Want to see Ashley live? She’ll be performing at our Launch Party so RSVP here to catch her in action!
Keep up to date with Ashley’s ever expanding list of talents on her website, Ashley Lauren Online.
This month’s blog post is written by one of our marketing interns, Rosie Atkinson. Rosie is a junior at Loyola University Chicago studying International Business, Marketing and Finance. She has been working at Greenola since Fall 2012, and her favorite Greenola product is the peplum shirt, coming in Spring 2013.
The Girl Effect
Over the holidays, the Greenola girls read a fascinating book: Half the Sky by power couple Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book tells the stories of women in Africa and Asia, oppressed and beaten down who have risen against impossible odds to become something extraordinary. This message of empowering women is one that hits home with our mission here at Greenola. In their book, Kristof and WuDunn highlight a phenomenon called “The Girl Effect.” The idea is simple: instead of oppressing the female half of a population, educate them, give them the freedom to move to urban areas and allow them to join the work force. The results are astonishing on every level. Not only are these women lifted from the depths of poverty to flourish and spread their knowledge and opportunities, but entire regions are improved through this model. Countries (kudos to East Asia for being a front-runner here) benefit economically by tapping into this previously ignored half of the workforce, population is controlled as women who are working delay marriage and also childbearing, and this is simply the opening of the floodgates. These women turn around and fund the education of their children and the cycle continues.
The Girl Effect is something that drives our work every day. By working with women in Bolivia and now Uganda who were previously disenfranchised, we have the chance to facilitate change and opportunity in their lives. One of my favorite stories is about one of the artisans we work with in Bolivia, who after working with Greenola for a few years was able to add an entire section onto her house. This beautiful, visible progress is the kind of thing that reassures us that our work is making a positive impact.
However, the good doesn’t stop with our incredible artisans. It comes full-circle back home where women here now have the option to style with meaning or, as we like to say, “Style like you mean it.” It’s a beautiful day when someone compliments your acai seed necklace or your fabulous peplum shirt (coming soon) and you get the chance to tell the story about Greenola and how your purchase is helping a woman send her children to school or put some extra food on the table. It’s simply a plus that you get to look good while doing it.
Greenola and Half the Sky have the same objective: to light a fire under you and inspire you to do something to combat what is sure to be this era’s most horrendous human rights violation: the repression of women in the developing world. Whether it’s making a conscious decision to purchase a fair trade product or just reading a book (I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of Half the Sky ASAP), getting informed is the first step.
Get informed. Get inspired. And STYLE LIKE YOU MEAN IT!
Do your holiday gifts ever look like that? Or any one of these? Never know how to wrap awkwardly shaped presents? Or maybe you’re already a gift wrap pro, but are you doing it in an eco friendly way?
Well, we’ve got a cure for your gift wrapping woes, Greenola Style!