An interview with Trades of Hope's Product Development Manager Julie Shipman. Julie has been working with Trades of Hope for almost a year and helps our artisans design fair trade products. This behind the scenes look is a beautiful reminder of how each product carries a story and serves a greater purpose!
Julie: Hello, I’m Julie Shipman and I work at Trades of Hope in product development. Yay!
Awesome! So the tile earrings from Costa Rica what can you tell us about them and how did you find the creativity to develop these?
Julie: After graduating college, Melody Monk, a long-time family friend, contacted me to come down to Florida and intern with their Non-profit. They had been working closely with the Costa Rican group and were having issues developing products that would meet the demands of the American market. Even more difficult, was finding materials that were readily available and not dependent on importing.
Did your background in art help in the development of the tile earrings?
Julie: Yes, it was perfect because my education focused on fabric design and also developing art from recycled materials. Since this was my concentration in school, she thought I could come down and use that creativity to see what products could be created sustainably. Our artisans need to be using materials that are durable and sustainable because Trades of Hope wants to create sustainable business for every artisan. When I went there, I saw that they had an abundance of broken tile everywhere, which was really an interesting thing to see.
Why is there an abundance of broken tile in Costa Rica?
Well, a significant percent of the population in Costa Rica is predominantly poor, so they start squatting on government land since they have no where else to go. They’ll pick or buy scrap tile, wood, plastic, and tin to create a home.
However, the government eventually comes and displaces these people once they decide to sell or build on that land. Entire communities of shanty towns, the only homes that they have known, get destroyed and they become homeless. And all that’s left behind are these tiny broken pieces of ceramic and tile. So the whole point was to take this story and take the tile and make it into something new. The tile really represents the people there: that they can be broken, but still redeemed into something new and beautiful. And that’s what God does with us.
What a beautiful way to see it! But how did you make the tile into stud earrings?
Since Trades of Hope was looking to create stud earrings, we tried using a tile saw and shaped the pieces of tile into triangles and painted them. Then viola! You got the Meadow and Sky Tile Earrings.
Well, thank you so much, Julie, for giving everyone this behind the scenes look at the Meadow and Sky Tile Earrings! You are awesome and we look forward to more beautifully designed products in the future!