SAME SKY’s project employs HIV+ women in Africa who survived the 1994 Genocide. Instead of a hand-out, we offer them a hand-up and a chance to rebuild their lives. Our bracelets are handmade with heart by these extraordinary women artisans.
By Candy Washington
Through purpose, empowerment, and education, Same Sky is equipping women from across the globe with a life-changing tool: a sense of integrity. Please read below my exclusive interview with Elizabeth Long, Director of Sales and Business Development of Same Sky.
Same Sky is an amazing program and embodies the spirit on entrepreneurship, can you please our readers how it all got started and what the basic idea behind the brand?
Same Sky’s Founder, Francine LeFrak, who is also an award winning film maker, spent 8 years making a film on the Rwandan genocide that never proceeded to fruition. However, Francine still wanted to shed light on the genocide and especially lend her support to women survivors. A friend introduced her to the idea of fair trade and suggested she come up with jewelry products for women to create as a way of making a means. The glass bead bracelet, a design inspired by a renowned artist and HIV/AIDS activist Mary Fisher, became Same Sky’s signature product and symbol of women empowering women. The rest is history.
Francine came up with the name “Same Sky” as all women look up at the same moon and same stars in the sky. Same Sky in essence encourages a movement of connecting and empowering women everywhere.
You have a beautiful concept of “Trade-Not-Aid”, can you please talk about the idea behind this?
Trade-not-aid is a new kind of philanthropy that Same Sky strongly advocates. By providing a job, in this case as an artisan, a woman has the tools to rebuild her life on her own and feel good about doing it without traditional “aid.”
How can we get involved?
Educate others whether it be friends, family, buyers, retailers, etc. on the importance of empowering women, spreading HIV/AIDS awareness and also creating a dialogue about the 1994 Genocide. Knowing about our cause is so important and the more people we can reach the better.
What have been some of the professional highlights for Same Sky?
On a promotional level, Same Sky has received a significant amount of attention in the media. Same Sky’s fabric wrap bracelets were featured in Vogue and Daily Candy while our signature glass bead bracelets have been featured in Harpers Bazaar, Town and Country, Marie Claire, The Today Show, The View, etc.
Some other Same Sky highlights have been expanding into 2 additional collectives and having recently been able to fund a work space for Same Sky artisans in Zambia.
What role do you think Same Sky plays to retailers?
I think that Same Sky has brought a significant amount of attention to the buying power of making a difference. Having the opportunity to buy a fashionable product that truly changes someone’s life is gratifying. I believe that the “ethical shopping movement” which Same Sky is very much a part of is growing and becoming more attractive to the consumer and in turn to retailers.
What impact do you think Same Sky has on the fashion industry as whole?
Same Sky stands tall amongst the fashion industry as an ethical, high quality fashion brand. Our hope is that the fashion industry will feel inspired to embrace the ethical shopping movement and develop lines that give back or make a difference.
What are some of the top-sellers?
Jade Green, Clear Sky and Seafoam are very popular in the glass bead bracelets. Material Girl and Purple Rain are top sellers in the fabric wraps. The bubbly necklace has been a hit and the Prosperity Bracelets in neutral tones have been selling particularly well.
What should our readers know about Same Sky that has not already been covered?
Think you covered it all!