As an Employment Specialist for World Relief Seattle, I often have the privilege of working with many excellent entrepreneurs and business people throughout the greater Seattle area. Handcrafting Hope – a local jewelry company with a social mission – has been a partner with World Relief Seattle for several years, having hired 14 of our clients since 2010.
The first time I visited the company, I remember thinking, this is incredible. The American, low-wage workplace can be a shock for some refugees, so to discover a cozy workshop with quiet music playing in the background was a refreshing surprise.
Bennett Bottorff, founder of the company, explained to me how he got into the women’s accessory line of business. As an avid fisherman, he fashioned his own flies out of wire, feathers and other materials. Through some experimenting, he eventually used these skills to create beautiful jewelry. After learning about the plight of refugee women, he envisioned a way to match his skills and abilities with a great need for refugee families – jobs. While he now has less time to reel in the sock-eyes, he’s still in the business of teaching others how to fish. Here’s an excerpt straight from the Handcrafting Hope website:
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This quote by Confucius is a cornerstone of Handcrafting Hope and is tattooed on the wrist of founder Bennett Bottorff. After hearing about the struggles of refugee women in the United States, he knew that empowering these women through employment and skills training would change their lives in a sustainable way. With little design experience and no small business history, Bennett decided to create a business that would do more than make a great product— it would teach refugees “how to fish.”
The company provides beautiful jewelry for a growing demand in the US and in Europe. More importantly, Handcrafting Hope is providing opportunities for refugee women to create new stories in a new place. If you’re searching for some Christmas gifts this year, look no further. Handcrafting Hope has got your covered. Spread the word. This is a company worth sharing about.
For most newly arrived refugees, employment is truly a life-changing experience. If your company (or someone you know) would like to find out how to partner with World Relief Employment Services, please visit our website. We also have a convenient web-portal, where you can post your open positions.