THE NAME “31 BITS”
The “31” comes from Proverbs 31, where it describes a diligent woman providing and caring for her family. The “bits” comes from what the beads are made out of … bits of paper!
ABOUT 31 Bits
We were carefree juniors in college. We were waitresses and babysitters, living for the moment. But with graduation just a year away, we knew we were supposed to be figuring out what was next. We began filling out grad school applications, applying for jobs, and making travel plans. But in the midst of planning out what was next, our lives were interrupted.
Our classmate, Kallie, had just gotten back from a life-changing trip to Uganda. She met women who grew up in a war and had nothing. They were single moms with no education and no job, and they were our age. OUR AGE. Our lives couldn’t have looked more different.
What the women lacked in education, they made up for in skill and resourcefulness. They were making incredible jewelry out of old posters. Kallie brought a box of the jewelry back, and we fell in love instantly. We sold the jewelry to friends and ran out within weeks. That’s when it hit us. These women had a skill, but needed a market. We lived in dorms and apartments filled with people who would love this stuff! Together, we could make a business.
A few of us went back to Uganda the following summer and selected a group of six women to begin this adventure with. We sat with them daily, making beads and listening to their stories. We visited their homes and met their families. We laughed together, cried together, and learned from each other.
Kallie stayed in Uganda for the following year, setting up our organization and helping the women create new styles of jewelry. The other four of us began our last year of college with a new agenda: selling jewelry anywhere we could. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We were a misfit group of dreamers, artists, and socialites … not business people. We didn’t know the first thing about starting a business. By day we were college students, but the evenings were filled with studying fashion, marketing, and development work. We discovered two things. First, we didn’t want to be just another charity selling key chains and t-shirts. We were determined to create a fashionable product that women would buy because they actually liked it. Second, these women needed a lot more than a paycheck. They needed education, health care, and counseling. They needed to be cared for physically, mentally, and emotionally. They needed a way to be whole.
We started by selling the handmade jewelry at school events, craft fairs, and home parties. We told our story to anyone who would listen. Eventually we started an online store and a wholesale program. The road was rocky and the sleep was scarce, but five years later, we’re selling in over 300 stores and have shared our story with hundreds of thousands of people.
We implemented a five-year holistic development program in Uganda to provide each woman with health education, finance training, counseling, and business training. Within this community she can earn an income, be educated, and develop a dream for her future. After five years in our program, the women graduate with an education, a career, social equity, confidence, and a voice. We now have 120 women in our program whose lives are changed. Their children’s lives are changed. Their community is changed. And we got to be a part of it!
Five years ago we were carefree 21-year-olds. Today, we have plenty to care about. We’ve learned that as consumers, every purchase we make has either a negative impact or a positive impact in the world. That’s why we’ve taken a simple product like jewelry and made it a vehicle for doing something GOOD. Our customers are changing people’s lives through their purchases. 31 Bits is part of a movement revolutionizing the way people do business. We believe businesses should be conscious of both the creator and the consumer. Through holistic care and your purchase, women are being empowered to rise above poverty.
31 Bits for kids! Jewelry for the cutest worldchangers in all the land.
The 2015 Bitsies Collection includes colorful necklaces and bracelets for kids! It’s a fun way to teach your kids about purchasing products that make a difference in the world. To find out more, and take an imaginary journey through Uganda with a girl named Lola, go to: 31bits.com/shop/bitsies.html