Costa Mesa brand 31 Bits helps Ugandan women rise above poverty
Socially minded brands are always trying to differentiate themselves from others. TOMS sells shoes, Krochet Kids sells beanies, and 31 Bits – they sell jewelry.
Founded in 2008 by Kallie Dovel, Costa Mesa-based 31 Bits offers fashion and design to empower Ugandan women to rise above poverty.
The name “31 Bits” comes from Proverbs 31 in the Bible where it describes a diligent woman caring for herself and her family. The “Bits” comes from what the jewelry beads are made out of – bits of recycled paper.
31 Bits purchases jewelry from women in Gulu, Uganda on a monthly basis to provide them with a consistent and fair income. Their monthly wage is equivalent to a Ugandan schoolteacher. The beneficiaries are with 31 Bits for four years and have development programs provided to them.
One of the programs is an HIV/AIDS and health program that educates the women about water sanitation and the importance of mosquito nets. The program also test women for HIV/AIDS and provides treatments and counseling to those who test positive. “We’re seeing women who have HIV/AIDS and the huge stigma that they feel has dropped,” said Dovel, “We’re now seeing this sense of peace and self-confidence throughout the position that they’re in.”
Another program offered is business and finance training where the beneficiaries learn what poverty is, how to save their earnings, and by the end of the four years, the women are able to create their own businesses and are self-sustainable. This past year, one of the women started her own piggery business where she sells pigs and piglets for profit.
Other programs include English lessons, literacy education and community groups.
Today, more than 100 Ugandan women are employed by 31 Bits to make the jewelry and be one step closer to feeling empowered (there were only six women when 31 Bits began).
Each bead of the bracelets and necklaces is handmade from strips of 100% recycled paper, rolled into different designs, then is hand-dipped in a non-toxic, water-based varnish to retain its shape. Most of the papers used come from old posters, magazines, fliers and textbooks.
Called “Chasing Daylight,” 31 Bits’ Spring 2012 line is inspired by taking risks, setting goals, and seizing every moment of the day. The line screams spring with its fun and simple colors and designs.
31 Bits also introduced its Wedding Collection where the intricate jewelry pieces have a more elegant edge and softer color palette. Not only do the wedding pieces play a part in anyone’s big day, they also play a part in creating new futures for the women in Uganda.
How can you get involved? 31 Bits offers house parties (where you and your guests can purchase the jewelry in the privacy of your own home) and volunteer opportunities.
For more information, visit 31bits.com