Dignify began carrying 31Bits last spring, after I discovered their gorgeous line of beaded jewellery made in Uganda. For dignify, as a curator of goods made with dignity, it is not enough for a product to have just a great story; it needs to appeal to women here in Canada and the USA, rivalling (or surpassing) any comparable, mass-produced item that’s available. 31Bits continues to impress me with their lines of fashion-forward jewellery, designed for a Western aesthetic, but built by women in Uganda who receive great value and dignity from their work.
I have been struck by many aspects of their excellent business, but foremost is my astonishment at how many different, beautiful, colourful, & unique items that they can design from their signature paper beads! Yes, each bead is made from long strips of recycled paper, wrapped by hand and finished with a water-based lacquer for durability. In many styles, the paper beads are complemented by tiny glass beads or other local materials, but I never would have imagined, from seeing the photos, that the variety of looks they create come back essentially to this process.
Started by a group of girlfriends in California in 2007, 31Bits has empowered many women of Uganda by providing the international marketing and sales opportunities for them to earn a sustainable, monthly income. They also use the profits to run numerous development programs, providing education & holistic care.
We love 31Bits’ Mission: Using Fashion & Design to Empower Women to Rise Above Poverty, and their Values: Love, Equality, Honesty, Quality, & Growth. And we love their goods! We will continue to carry their jewellery at dignify.ca & support their work.