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"Our Hands For Hope, Great Things to Come in 2015" February 11 2015, 0 Comments

The second feature in Your True Colours magazine shares the business adventures that Our Hands For Hope will be embarking in 2015, such as the new partnership with two groups from India devoted to helping men and women out of severe poverty and human trafficking.

Our Hands For Hope
Great Things to Come in 2015

By: Cinthya Rubio, Marketing and Communications Director @ Our Hands For Hope

At Our Hands For Hope, we pride ourselves in creating a for-profit socially responsible business format that not only offers our consumers quality handmade apparel, but that also creates a life changing opportunity for the women that make each item with love.

For the past four years we have centered all our efforts to help the impoverished women in Trujillo, Peru. Recently we were able to go back and visit our beautiful artisans and have a firsthand look at how they are transforming their lives and the lives of their children. It was a fresh breath of air to see that many of the women have been able to maintain a safe environment for their children while being able to provide enough income to keep them in school. The success of this business format has gone beyond what we ever imagined, much so that there is currently a training program teaching 100 more women how to knit and crochet. To top things off, five women from our first group have become trainers themselves, and we are hoping for at least 30 of the 100 women to achieve the level needed to be a part of the Our Hands For Hope Peruvian project.

With the women of Trujillo, we have created a fashion line using the best luxurious Alpaca yarn and silky Pima Cotton that Peru has to offer. Our artisans make each item with high quality standards in mind, but most importantly, with love. This Fall/Winter season we have added great accessory items such as fingerless gloves and boot cuffs that complement the very popular ponchos and wraps in our fashion line.

Our reach doesn't stop there… this 2015, Our Hands For Hope will launch a new Spring/Summer line with two new groups from India! One group is devoted to helping men and women out of severe poverty and the other provides technical training and support for those emancipated from human trafficking. These training centers provide pathways for local leaders and villagers to become financially self-sufficient. These groups promote dignity through economic empowerment and provide much needed products and services to local communities across India. So be ready to see bright colors and beautiful lightweight fabrics in our new designs!

Our artisans understand the importance of education for their children to better their future. Our Hands For Hope helps provide honorable and dignified work opportunities to help make this happen,  as we mentioned before, the positive transformation that our artisans have gone through could not have happened without the amazing fashionable women that purchase their items. Because of this we are inviting all the “Your True Colours Magazine” readers to visit www.OurHandsForHope.com and shop. For the next thirty days (month of February), when you enter discount code: YourTrueColours at checkout, you will receive a 15% discount on all orders, plus free shipping on all orders over $50. Every purchase directly enables artisans to afford their children’s education. Shop and share this special offer. Together we can empower and help them meet their March 1st, 2015 school enrollment deadline!

See the full magazine HERE

 

 


Our Hands For Hope featured in "Your True Colours" Magazine. August 26 2014, 0 Comments

We were fortunate enough to share our story with the readers of Your True Colours this month. Your True Colours is an all digital magazine presenting real fashion for real people highlighting up and coming companies. 

Thank you True Colors  for the opportunity to share who we are and what we do!

 

OUR HANDS FOR HOPE

SIMPLE TOOLS CREATING MODERN DESIGNS.

HANDMADE, HONESTLY SOURCED, ETHICALLY FASHIONABLE

BY  CINTHYA RUBIO, MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR @ OUR HANDS FOR HOPE
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If traveling to another country, people tend to Google “top 10 things to see or do". If going to Peru that list would suggest visiting Machu Picchu, enjoying amazing food in Lima, flying over the Nazca Lines, or exploring the Amazon.  Once travelers experience all these breathtaking sites in Peru and return home it would be hard for them to believe that the majestic place they just visited has people living in extreme poverty.

When members from Project New Hope International visited Peru, their eyes were open to a different reality. Moving away from the city lights of Lima and the enchanting Cusco ruins, they visited places like Trujillo. Despite the lovely town center and beautiful hotels set up for tourist, they only needed to travel 15 kilometers away to witness “La Esperanza”, a barrio known for being the most unsafe area in northern Peru.  The presence of poverty, lack of jobs, and high numbers of single mothers made the Project New Hope Members wonder how these families had come to live in such circumstances.Within the last twenty years Peru has gone through some major changes. The political arena has left many scars upon this country; the memories of corrupt politicians and guerrilla groups that terrorized the people for years still come to mind. These rebel groups along with a corrupt government have now been linked to thousands of deaths and disappearances over the last 20 years. As a result families have been torn apart. Women have been moving out of the highlands into the cities looking for a better life for their children and themselves. When they arrive they are met with a lack of housing, money, and employment. The barrios, shanty towns, become their neighborhood. If they are fortunate enough to find any employment they have to travel miles out of the area to work, leaving their children behind.

Unlike many nonprofit organizations, Project New Hope International knew that collecting donations to then invest in these areas to give handouts to those in need would not suffice to create a permanent change. Instead they partnered with an international Non-Governmental Organization, Creation Peru, to offer extensive training in cultural textile arts, such as crochet, knit, macramé, horquilla, crewel, and embroidery. These two organizations knew that in order to help the people of the barrios of Trujillo, it would be necessary to empower them and strengthen their abilities in order to create a sustainable practice that will have long term effects.

Our Hands For Hope, a for profit socially responsible company, was then created here in the US to establish partnerships with the women that received the training offered. The main company goal is to create sustainable incomes to better the lives of impoverished women by the means of business and design mentorship to bring their products up to par with standards and trends, along with distribution, marketing, and a platform to introduce their products to the international market. Basically our structure and goal is to never give handouts-all wages are earned, because we aim to empower these women, always with hope and dignity.

With the women of Trujillo, we have created a fashion line using luxurious Alpaca Yarn and silky Pima Cotton that Peru has to offer. Our artisans make each item with high quality standards in mind, but most importantly with love. By combining the exceptional technique of the artisans with the designs created by the owner and head designer of the company, Terisa Brooks-Huddleston, we have been able to forge an apparel line that caters to a discerning clientele that wants unique crafted items.We launch both Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter lines each year and have been fortunate enough to be able to showcase our items in 45 stores and boutiques spread across six US states and Canada as well as on our website http://www.OurHandsForHope.com.

We have been able to combine the best of the fashion world and the socially responsible world… now you can look great and feel great knowing that what you are wearing is helping change the life of a woman, her children and her community. Help us continue this great adventure by purchasing one of our beautiful fashion accessories and by sharing our story with your friends and family. We initially set out to reach the women in Peru, but with the success we have experienced, we have now been invited to take our sustainable business model into other countries. This next year we are excited to bring to our customers an extended line of artisan products from India, Cambodia and Sumatra.

See the full magazine HERE


Spruce Up your Mothers' Day Gifts! May 07 2014, 0 Comments

Mothers' Day is very special for us because all items made for Our Hands For Hope are made by Peruvian Mothers. Because of this we want to make sure you have great gift tags for all the special things you want to give to that special woman in your life.

Click on the picture to download a PDF of printable Mother's Day Gift Tags.

Artwork by: Dave Huddleston


Celebrating Inspirational Women May 01 2014, 0 Comments

By: Terisa Brooks-Huddleston, Founder/Owner @ Our Hands For Hope

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April showers bring May flowers and just in time for Mother’s Day. As we move into this season of honoring our mothers, at Our Hands For Hope we will be celebrating inspirational women in our lives by showcasing the strength, dignity, wisdom, support, love, comfort and creativity that defines women.
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We all hold images and memories of humorous, sentimental, empowering, and introspective moments we’ve had with women who inspire us. Throughout the month of May we will be celebrating women of all types, mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, nieces and friends.
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We’ll be posting ways we applaud womanhood, from artistic expressions of female artists, humorous tales of fond memories, to the stories about changed lives and new adventures.
Photo Link
We want you to share your memories and moments with us as well. Send us a blurb or a brief story about a woman you would like to honor, we would love a picture to attach to it too! Share your ideas, art, quotes and stories about the women in your life, so we can all celebrate together.
 
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We will be having two giveaway gift drawings for those of you who participate.
One will be announced on May 10th and the other on May 31st, 2014.
So get those notes sent….we are so excited to honor WOMANHOOD with you!
How to send us your story:
Email us at: info@OurHandsForHope.com
Please keep your story to around 300 words or less.
You’re welcome to post directly onto our Facebook page at:https://www.facebook.com/OurHandsForHope
Instagram: www.instagram.com/ourhandsforhope @ourhandsforhope
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ourhandsforhope @ourhandsforhope
Hashtag: #InspirationalWomen

Emily Reviews - Our Hands For Hope Knit Shrug Review February 24 2014, 0 Comments

Our Hands For Hope Knit Shrug Review

http://www.emilyreviews.com/2014/02/our-hands-for-hope-knit-shrug-review.html

I received product from Our Hands For Hope, for my review. All opinions are my own.

I love finding companies that do something to better the world. When companies are socially responsible, it makes me feel even better about sharing them with all of you. I have a great company to tell you about today, Our Hands For Hope.

Our Hands For Hope believes in bettering the lives of others through holistic practices. They have partnered with women in Peru  to create one-of-a-kind knit fashions. These women live in extreme poverty. Purchases made from Our Hands Of Hope help them earn an income and better the lives of their family. Each item has been carefully hand-crafted using high quality Alpaca and Peruvian cotton yarns. You can read the full story on the Our Hands For Hope website.

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For my review, I received a Tina Shrug in the red medley color.

The Tina Shrug is beautiful! The material is soft and has a real luxurious feeling. The knit pattern is eye-catching. While taking my daughter to and from school, I was stopped a few times and asked about my Tina Shrug. The moms said that the knit pattern on the back is what caught their attention.

I started off wearing my Tina Shrug over a white v-neck long-sleeved t-shirt with jeans and booties. However, I will still a little cold and felt like I was missing something. I decided to add a brown sweater to the outfit. I liked the color combination of the red medley against the milk-chocolate brown. This outfit was casual and comfortable, perfect for a cold and rainy day in Oregon.

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It is suggested that the Tina Shrug be hand washed or dry cleaned. I hadn’t read this information when I laundered mine. Without knowing, I washed mine in the washer on cold and delicate; it came out just fine. Next time I will hand wash it though.

To learn more about Our Hands For Hope or to shop the knit fashions, please visit their website. You can also connect with Our Hands For Hope on facebooktwitter and pinterest.

laurie


Flourish Magazine - Winter 2013 December 04 2013, 0 Comments

Flourish Magazine, Winter 2013

The North Bay Giftshed

The North Bay Giftshed2

 

View the full publication HERE


ProyectaRSE September 30 2013, 0 Comments

September 2013

 

 

Cover:

Sustainable Social Development

Hands for hope knit their own destiny

 

Page 19

Hands For Hope – A real story of sustainable social development

By: Nestor Silva Jaramillo, President Creation Peru NGO

Translated by Cinthya Rubio, Marketing and Communications Director @ Our Hands For Hope

It was a night like many others of getting home late after a long day at work. Ñaty (Violeta, my wife) was still waiting for me with her eternal smile to ask how my day went. Being inconsiderate, stuck up and not mentally present, I answered: “I’m hungry.”

Sometimes we are inconsiderate, stuck up and not mentally present with those who treat us well and only expect a bit of attention and consideration. Once I finished eating, I started telling her about my day.  While I boasted of my big achievements and the haughtiness of being the Director of an NGO, she stopped me in my tracks and said “What about me? How can I help? I want to do something in the places where you are helping so many people. I know I can be of help with my time and abilities…”

My chauvinistic ego, absurd and more arrogant than ever instantly responded: “But love, what can you do in those complicated and dangerous places? No honey, I will not allow you to go there, something bad can happen to you.”

She kept on insisting. She intelligently insisted. One day she invited me to the school where she works to show me the infrastructure and material needs that they had, but even more important the human relationships within the community. I was in shock: mothers and fathers that didn’t care about the academic situation of their daughters, dysfunctional families with wives and daughters being mentally and sexually abused, fathers that abandoned their homes, alcohol and drug problems.

Page 20 Quote:
Almost angels… Women and mothers, with their hands created marvelous knits and that never- read this carefully, never- charged a cent to share their knowledge, abilities, and love.
Page 22
Caption: Violeta Ore Duclos (Peruvian Hands – Creation Peru), Ronald E, Birtcher (Birtcher Family Foundation – Creation Peru), Terisa Huddleston and Cinthya Rubio (Our Hands For Hope) after a work reunion preparing plans for 2014.

 

Ñaty (Violeta) proposed the idea –for the hundredth time- to invite the mothers of the students to the school but not to talk about academics, their children’s behavior, or to pass out school supplies, but to participate in productive activities to spark their entrepreneurial spirit and motivate with an economic gain. The main idea was to empower the mothers by bettering their abilities in an activity that could generate an income so they would be economically independent.  On a deeper level we wanted to share character training to better their personal, family and community relationships, based on a practice of values. A really great idea, but a really complicated proposition.

Once home after visiting the school, I asked Ñaty: “Tell me one thing, why do you want to do this?” and with tears in her eyes, which is fairly common, she said: “Because something needs to be done to help those girls… because neither you nor I would ever want our daughter to go through any of this…”

Just like “Don Ramon”, the skinny, weak, mustached and mean character from Chavo del 8 (Mexican television sitcom from the 70’s), I was barely able to gulp while my Adams apple was caught in my throat. With my teeth clenched I said, “Ok love, I don’t know how but we will get this started. However long it takes, I promise that your idea will get started, yes or yes.”

And that is how we started. With zero budget yet millions worth of eagerness, a lot of creativity and lots of love we started at her school with a group of 30 mothers. With our own money we bought materials (yarn, thread, macramé, knitting needles, crochet hooks, etc.), and  hired two knitting specialists, and began training in 7 techniques of hand knitting and stitch work.

The second invitation that we sent out duplicated our initial number of participants. For the third invitation there was no more space in the classroom. Finally for the fourth invitation we moved out to the barrios where the women lived. We tried to get help from the municipality and from other schools to offer these courses but again and again doors were closed right in our face. (There is a reason why God gave us small noses and not big ones). Finally a Christian NGO, Project New Hope, lent us their community centers to be able to invite more women from the barrios of Alto Trujillo, El Milagro in Sector 7, Los Libertadores in El Porvenir and in Alto Salaverry.

We had up to 100 mothers in one classroom. I still don’t know how we managed but all the women had work material, we helped them with bus fair to get to the training sessions, and we were even able to offer snacks (which they would call “cofibrei” –Coffee Break)

A special mention needs to go out to the group of Angels that came together to work with Ñaty, women that became the best support system for the coordination of the project. Women and mothers, with their hands created marvelous knits and that never- read this carefully, never- charged a cent to share their knowledge, abilities, and love. I tell Ñaty all the time that these women have reserved their space in heaven because what they do in this day and age it is unheard of, unthought-of or even attempted.

Around this time, I flew out to The United States and I presented the idea for this project to the Birtcher Family Foundation committee. It was such a great idea, and what we had already been able to accomplish spoke for itself; the foundation members didn’t hesitate to add our project to their budget for the year in course. Their support became available for an additional year as well. In a year we were able to train 800 women which was a big challenge for what was initially programed but was perceived as a plus for the original project.

A new obstacle was presented. Once trained the next step for the women was to produce. This meant to complete assignments, honor deadlines, and commit to being efficient while presenting all work with quality.  

The million dollar question was “Now what?” I heard this for many days, weeks perhaps. Ñaty kept on asking what now and the only answer I had was “Nothing. We never offered anything, only to train them.” She was not satisfied: “But we cannot abandon them now”. I said “But what can we do? We have given them more than what we were able to give.”

The answer was immature. The next step was to look for a market. “Yeah man –I would say to myself- it’s super easy to find a market, HA! What are you getting into Nestitor?” My head could not get around it. Finding out how to get to this next step was keeping me up at night. We can’t fail these women.

One afternoon, I sat in front of my laptop and started writing. I shared part of this story and much of what is not here to my business partner and friend, Ron Birtcher. I told him about every situation lived, with each failure and success obtained. I described the good and bad of what the mothers in the barrios had to go through. The passion and frustrations that Ñaty’s team had, and the desire and intentions we had of making the dreams of these women come true: women who have deposited all their trust in our NGO.

Ron, that old fox, knower of entrepreneurial signs within communities that want to get ahead, keeper of such a great heart, joined my idea. (I am now looking back to what he would frequently say: “There are three elements needed to create change in an environment: first, people must need it; second, they must want it; and third, not only do they need and want it, it must work.”)

He was sure it would work. Immediately, Ron contacted various dealers of native import products, he interviewed with them, traveled from one place to another, and even at his almost 80 years of age Googled companies, organizations or individuals interested in purchasing textiles from Peru with the additional intangible value of: handmade but made with the heart.

Yet again, another angel crossed our path: Terisa Brooks Huddleston, designer from the state of California in the US. A focus group was set up and the first test consisted of sending 30 diverse products to them. The mothers gave their all and in less than a week they prepared great work in diverse colors with the quality of our highly valued Peruvian cotton. The package was sent to the focus group in California, the focus group received it and we were all excited and intrigued to find out the result of the evaluation. In 6 days we received our package back with a note that said “We are sorry but these items do not satisfy the international market expectations. Thanks and God Bless You”.

I still have that piece of paper.

I asked myself what would happen now, and to be honest we had no idea what to do. Later on that night I contacted Ron via Skype to talk about what had happened. He already knew. I was bothered because he had not reached out before, but now I know that it was important for the mothers to perceive the news as a blow that one can regain strength from with firm determination to demonstrate what they were made of and make amends with themselves to regain their self-esteem without getting scared of tripping along the way. What were the mistakes and errors in our product: fit, color, design, finishes… (Almost nothing)

Size because our Large was their Medium, our Medium was a Small, and our small was a sweater for their Pekinese dog. Color because our pastel fuchsia, orange, sky blue, yellow and lime green are not favored by the Americans.

Page 24 Caption:
“What was salvageable of all of these critiques was that the hand knit technique was really invaluable, “very good”, “excellent”, “awesome”, and other terminology that gave us a second opportunity if the mistakes before described were fixed”.

They prefer gray, black or white tones. Design, because all the details that we add to the edging, sleeves and simulated buttons we make for our sweaters did not mark a style or fashion trend that would be appreciated in a show or window in the US. In the finishing of the products, because some items had small specks of dirt with a notorious odor of fire wood. What was salvageable of all of these critiques was that the hand knit technique was really invaluable, “very good”, “excellent”, “awesome”, and other terminology that gave us a second opportunity if the mistakes before described were fixed.

And it was done. The foundation funded the airfare and housing expenses to have Terisa come to Peru for a few weeks to train, lead and mentor the mothers on how to overcome their technical defects, but at the same time she praised and motivated them to continuously fight to obtain their goals.

Today, what began as a mini project has become the primary organization that we (Creation Peru) use to validate what we do in regards to everything related to real, sustainable, social development.

With an appropriate business plan, accompanied by a realistic marketing plan, a well-defined internal organization in groups of mothers and collaborators denominated “Manos Peruanas” here in Trujillo, consultants in international business and exportations, with “Our Hands For Hope” our strategic partner who made our mothers needs and feelings their own, and the trio of Terisa Brooks Huddleston, Joanne Birtcher and Cinthya Rubio in the US, we have maintained an excellent commercial relationship with more than 120 knitting mothers of the main barrios of Alto Trujillo, that export thousands of items per year to the United States, from ponchos to snoods, blankets and wraps, hats and scarves. Ñaty’s project consolidates and positions itself more and more in a market with high expectations in quality, time and techniques, showing items in important storefronts in California, Arizona and most recently in New York.

See it for yourself: visit and appreciate the handmade products of our Trujillan Mothers at www.ourhandsforhope.com . Two weeks ago Ron called and confirmed that NapaStyle, one of the largest home product chain in the west of the United States, had placed an order with the potential for thousands of items to be bought for what is left of the year. They had approved the trial products that were sent to them and now two of our items appear on their website www.napastyle.com

Am I proud of all of this? What do you think? Imagine, I wasn’t going to let my wife visit the barrios of Alto Trujillo, El Milagro and El Porvenir. She humbly demonstrated her courage, and intelligence to visit them. She is like another tenant, friend, neighbor of the poorest communities on the outskirts of Trujillo.

To finish off, I want to tell you that I still remember Ñaty’s eyes full of tears mixed with gratitude and hope when I said we would make her project come to life; her ideas and her passion. Yes, passion. Passion is the perfect word to define all of this.

End of story. As I finish writing the last lines of this article, the doorbell rings. I walk to the door to see who it is. When I open the door, two young mothers of Alto Trujillo, with their faces full of joy and hope, one carrying her baby and the other woman flanked by her toddler twin boys that try to hide behind her. Tthey both ask me in unison: “Is Violetita home?”

There will be more to add to this story.


SF Shop Girl - Fashion Blog September 27 2013, 51 Comments

GET KNITTED FOR A GOOD CAUSE

Friday, September 27, 2013

Outfit Details:
Beanie: c/o Our Hands For Hope
Sunglasses: Tom Ford (similar here)
Top: Azaela SF (similar here)
Pants: Theory (similar here)
Boots: Valentino
Necklaces: c/o Stella ValleSweet & Spark
**Our Hands for Hope, LLC was birthed from two humanitarian organizations, Creation Peru and Project New Hope International. Falling in love with the Peruvian culture and the people in the area of La Libertad; they have partnered with a co-operative made up of predominately mothers, called Peruvian Mothers, to create a product line that showcases their incredible talents and introduces them into the United States retail market.

Interview with Galina Belyaeva, Host at "Immigrant Women Talk" podcast July 08 2013, 0 Comments

Inspiration and resources for immigrant women. Listen to 30+ interviews with immigrant women entrepreneurs and founders of nonprofits that serve them. You can also check out the interviews with founders of amazing organizations that help women from disadvantaged communities all over the world here at http://www.galinabelyaeva.com.

 


A Keen Sense of Style: Blog March 04 2013, 0 Comments

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fashion For A Cause: Our Hands For Hope

Poncho Sweater: Our Hands For Hope, Turtleneck: Forever 21, Skirt: Forever 21, Necklace: Forever 21, Earrings: H&M, Bracelets: Charming Charlie & Gifted, Watch: Michael Kors, Shoes: Prada, Bag: Prada, Nail Polish: Essie "Recessionista"

Today I paired a pretty blue poncho sweater with a turtleneck and one of my favorite printed skirts. This sweater is just one of many gorgeous items handcrafted by the women of "Our Hands for Hope." When I heard about this company, I knew I wanted to help spread awareness about the amazing work they're doing.  "Our Hands for Hope" is a socially responsible company dedicated to helping women in Peru break out of poverty. They offer quality knits made by Peruvian women artisans. The sustainable income they receive gives them not only the funds they need to live, but real hope for a brighter future. To shop their website and support this wonderful cause, click here or visit OurHandsForHope.comUse the code: 106S for free shipping in the U.S.

Happy Monday! Thanks so much for reading. 
Xo -Elizabeth 

http://akeenesenseofstyle.blogspot.com/2013/03/fashion-for-cause-our-hands-for-hope.html


Huffington Post & Marlo Thomas.com October 09 2012, 258 Comments

Huff Post, Post 50

Marlo Thomas.com

"One of the reasons I started my website is that I wanted a place for women to come together and dream. We women need to know that we don't have to hang on to an old dream that has stopped nurturing us -- that there is always time to start a new dream. This week's story is about one woman who created a bucket list to fulfill her lifelong dreams and wound up creating jobs for over 60 women in Peru." -– Marlo, MarloThomas.com

http://goo.gl/hgFjPI

It Ain't Over: How One Woman's Bucket List Is Making A World Of Difference

By Lori WeissTerisa Huddleston on Marlo Thomas.com

Before Terisa Brooks Huddleston’s feet could reach the pedals of her mother’s Singer 401 sewing machine, she was sitting on Mom’s lap, putting together the perfect little sundress. The sundress was so small it was made out of two kitchen towels with a ribbon that tied on the shoulders. So by the time she was old enough to handle a pair of scissors, her parents weren't completely surprised when she got, well, creative.

“I thought the sleeves on my father’s dress shirt would make a lovely outfit for my cat,” she laughed. “I have to say, in my defense, it did come out pretty cute!”

And while her mother convinced her that shopping for fabric in the family closets probably wasn't such a good idea, she continued to encourage the little designer’s interest, so much so, that by the third grade, Terisa was making all her own school clothes. What no one could have known was that 42 years later, those early lessons would change Terisa’s life and the lives of women around the world.

“When I was approaching 50, and my youngest was turning 18,” Terisa explained, “I decided I was going to redefine my life. I called it my year of jubilee. And I made a list of 100 dreams. They ranged from a book I wanted to read to seeing the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena. The first 25 were easy to come up with, but by the time I reached 60, I was really digging deep!”

But once the list was complete, Terisa realized it told a story. Everything on it fit into three categories: First, survival -- which to her meant finding ways to continue living the life she loved in Napa Valley, California. Next came creativity -- which was natural for a woman who had taken her childhood skills and spun them into a dressmaking business and the final thread she discovered was a deep hope to make society better.

And then, as if she’d written the script for her next chapter, the opportunities simply began to appear.

“The week before my 50th birthday,” Teresa recalled, “I was invited over to one of my client’s homes. She and her husband were doing amazing work in Peru with Project New Hope International and Creation Peru. The country was ruled by a communistic party until 12 years ago and the people there don’t have the history to know how to run businesses the way we do. They had gone over and helped to set up a dairy, a cuy (guinea pig) farm and a training program to teach textile arts to the women who lived in the barrios of Trujillo, a coastal city where the average income is $10 to $15 a month."

“The women were doing beautiful work, but the problem was, they had to go into the city to sell their scarves and sweaters, and their children were left alone.”

The United States established a free trade agreement with Peru in 2006, and Terisa’s friends were hoping that with her knowledge of fabric and design, they could find a way to help the women sell their unique wares to women in America. “I knew immediately that this was what I was meant to do. I called my husband from their driveway and said, ‘Honey, I’m going to Peru!’ And all he said was, ‘Are you coming home first or should I just check the mailbox?’”

And with that, Terisa began her “year of jubilee.” She went to the barrios of Trujillo and met the women who were living in tiny huts. Many of their husbands had left to find work in the city and never returned -- leaving the women to care for their children alone. Terisa looked at their wares and knew if she could just make a few changes in the materials they used and tweak their designs, so they’d better suit the tastes of American women, she could help them build a brand and better lives.

That’s when she decided to go where no one -- not even her friends who had been working in Peru for years, had gone before. The program’s project coordinator, Violeta, had tracked down two “companies” in Lima, who were wholesaling Alpaca -- a material that’s as warm as wool and as soft as cashmere.

“When the taxi driver said he didn’t want to take us straight through a certain area, we were a little suspect,” Terisa remembered, “but we kept going. We passed through a set of gates and everywhere we looked, there were dilapidated buildings and heaps of garbage everywhere. And there was a group of skinny men, just staring at us. Then the gate we entered closed behind us. It was one of those moments where you think I've seen this in movies before and there’s never a good ending.

“Those same men surrounded us and walked us into the office, where a man came out with a spool of yarn and an old color card. On our way out, I turned around and saw someone on top of the roof with a gun, which kind of made me think they were selling more than just Alpaca. Needless to say, we decided to go take a look at the other company.”

Fortunately their next stop was a real yarn store, and with a micro-finance loan in place, Terisa was able to help the women acquire the materials they needed to take their knitting, crocheting, crewel and embroidery skills to a new level.  She then returned to Napa Valley and began working with their designs -- suggesting that they add or subtract a few inches or use a color that American women might like -- and then asked the women to set their own prices.

“These women can look at a sketch and reproduce it instantly,” Terisa said. “So Violeta brought them the yarn and the patterns and then sent us some finished pieces. And with a little back and forth, we knew we were ready to put them in business.”

So, in July of 2011, Terisa launched Our Hands For Hope, an ecommerce business, where she sells the scarves, shawls, sweaters, hats and throws created by the budding entrepreneurs. And with a special program that she calls “CuddleGrams,” for every throw sold, Terisa donates a blanket to a child living in the barrios.

“So many people are helping us make this happen. Just a few weeks ago the postal service in Trujillo went on strike and we had 200 pounds of knits all ready to ship. Violeta found six people who were on their way back from a mission trip, people we’ve never met, and when they heard about our dilemma, they brought back the pieces in their own suitcases.”

With the help of so many hands, Terisa has been able to extend her reach to retail outlets in the Napa Valley area, including wineries like Robert Mondavi and Hess, as well as hotel boutiques such as West End Napa in the Avia Hotel. Next on her list is to create a group of “Alpacateers,” women who will throw home parties and trunk shows around the country.

“We’ve been able to keep 60 women knitting and crocheting consistently over the last year,“ Terisa continued, “and they’ve all been able to raise their income to a level that’s considered close to middle-class in Peru. And they’re helping each other. One of the women needed surgery and couldn’t afford it, so the group sent us a note with the last order asking if each of them could knit one extra wrap, so they could donate the money to her. That tells the whole story -- this is about women helping women, and now with the 'Alpacateers' we’ll be able to help women here at home take care of their families too.

“When I started my list of 100 dreams, I had no idea where it would take me, but I’m hoping that it’s just the beginning of making many other women’s dreams come true as well.”


Wine Country Getaways July 24 2012, 0 Comments

The Napa Valley Connection to the Barrios of Peru Our Hands for Hope

What do Peruvian women have in common with Hess Winery, Robert Mondavi, the Spa at Bardesonno, and the chic West End Napa Store? The women’s woven clothing pieces are sold at these locations. It is a win for both, with the Pervian women making a living and the stores featuring a one-of-a kind product. How did this partnership occur?

We recently had a very interesting and informative meeting with Terisa Brooks-Huddleston, the founder of “Our Hands for Hope,” an organization which works directly with abandoned or widowed women from the Andes mountains, who are intent on finding a way to support themselves and their children. These women are motivated, talented and well trained, but previously were only able to sell their handmade outerwear and blankets to visiting tourists.

“Our Hands for Hope” was created out of a partnership with Project New Hope International and Creation Peru. These organizations have helped build medical centers and schools in the area, as these women and their children receive no government assistance. “Our Hands for Hope” purchases the soft alpaca yarn and sends suggested patterns to the women, who are known affectionately as “Peruvian Mothers.” The women knit the products and set their own prices. The products are then sent to Terisa and she locates retail shops which will sell them.

Hess, Mondavi and Bardesonno have been very supportive of “Our Hands for Hope,” and the West End Napa at 1460 First Street in Napa has just begun carrying some of this merchandise. The items are easy to pack and seem to appeal to Napa tourists who appreciate the plight of the Peruvian women. The proceeds are collected by the organization and then sent directly to the individual bank accounts of the “Mothers.”

The main goal of “Our Hands for Hope’ is to encourage women to help each other and enable them to stay close to their children while doing so.

You can see samples of these beautiful items at: OurHandsForHope.com.

If you know of a retail shop or winery in Napa or elsewhere that might be interested in carrying some of these knitted items, contact: Terisa@OurHandsForHope.com.

Listen to what Terisa has to say about this project.

 


Napa Valley Register March 20 2012, 0 Comments

Two women lend a hand for hope

Napa Valley Register

By: ROSEMARIE KEMPTON

http://goo.gl/PbXh1d

When Terisa Brooks-Huddleston and Joanne Birtcher learned about the deprivation of women and children in the Peruvian barrios, their hearts went out to them — and so did their commitment.

With no means of support, these Peruvian women and their children live in small shacks made of cardboard, or anything else they can find to shelter their families from the elements.

To empower these women, who otherwise might have neither hope nor power, the two Napa women formed Our Hands For Hope.

The business offers these women the opportunity to become entrepreneurs by acting as an outlet for their artisanal skills with yarn. The Peruvian women are paid immediately for creating ponchos, shrugs, hats, throws, wraps, scarves, shawls, sweaters, blankets and other items. Their work is purchased for the retail market in the United States via Our Hands for Hope.

“We offer beautiful, high-quality hand-knit items while focusing on creating and maintaining a humanitarian effort,” said Brooks-Huddleston. “It’s all about connecting women, connecting cultures and connecting business,” she said.

Birtcher and her husband, Ron Birtcher, had been going to Peru for seven years and talked about their visits with Brooks-Huddleston. After raising five children with her husband, artist Dave Huddleston, and doing custom design and sewing for 30 years, Brooks-Huddleston said she was ready to “redefine” her life.

Brooks-Huddleston traveled with the Birtchers to Peru to meet with the artisans and find wholesale suppliers for the Alpaca yarn they use.

“When I saw the women and children, I felt an instant connection,” Brooks-Huddleston said. “I just knew this was what I was supposed to be doing.”

Upon returning to Napa, the women joined forces to help the impoverished Peruvian women.

Our Hands of Hope was started in 2010 with an initial investment of $2,500, plus time and talent donated by friends and family members. The Napa women paid their Peruvian counterparts to create a dozen samples. After the first order, they were able to recover their initial costs, they said.

A Peruvian woman, Violeta Silva, works as a liaison between the women in the barrios and the Napa partners. The women making items for Our Hands of Hope are paid four times more for their knitted items than they would make if they had other jobs, Brooks-Huddleston said. Bank accounts have been opened for the artists to deposit their wages, she added.

After the second order, “Violeta said the women were excited and talking about what they’d do with the money,” Brooks-Huddleston said. “We’re achieving exactly what we had set out to do: Give them hope for their future.”

Because of Silva’s work with the women, cultural differences haven’t hurt the business, the partners said. Differences are mainly in terminology, said Brooks-Huddleston — for example, “what we call a ‘ruffle,’ they call ‘tissue.’”

Currently, 45 to 60 women consistently provide items made with their textile arts, including crochet, knit, macramé, orquilla, crewel and embroidery, Brooks-Huddleston said. Fifteen of these women are training others in the barrios in textile arts.

Organizers hope a core of 400 women will become entrepreneurs on their own, earning a sustainable income — and from them, trainers will emerge to impart their skills to other women, Brooks-Huddleston said.

Approximately 1,000 items have been made and later sold in the U.S. The business also offers a blanket program called Cuddle Grams: For every blanket sold, a blanket is donated to a child in need.

Eventually, the partners would like to take this business model — of women training women — into other countries.

“The key to Third World countries is the women,” Brooks-Huddleston said. “They are the ones raising the children. They have a strong desire to better the lives of their families.”


Joie Magazine September 26 2011, 0 Comments

Our Hands For Hope was featured in Joie Magazine, 5th issue.

Find us on page 100 under their Sartorially Speaking: Independent Design Fall 2011 story.

 "A look at some of the most drool worthy fall 2011 collections..."