Welcome to the Ways of Change Blog! Here you can read all about what we are getting up to with the artisans and the communities, how the design and production is coming along, the challenges we are facing and the wonderful experiences we are having while on this journey to produce a socially-conscious and ethical fashion brand facilitating people affected by conflict and migration to have a global reach.

To start off our blog, we thought it best to provide a clear picture as to what we are doing, why we are doing it and who we are.

The "What"
So, what do we mean by, “socially-conscious and ethical fashion brand?” This means that we aim to provide fair wages to refugees so that they may support and empower themselves through entrepreneurship while sustaining their traditional skills and building on them. “Ethically-sourced” refers to our use of up-cycled, organic, natural, cruelty-free, fairly traded and locally sourced materials wherever possible.

In providing high-quality and socially conscious handmade jewelry and accessories we hope to inspire consumers to use the power of their purchase to change the world. In doing so, we hope that our customers are interested in the story behind their products and essentially, the story of the producer. We believe that by connecting people we can create a space of mutual empowerment where people can recognize themselves in others and experience oneness.

The next step is that Ways of Change supports the implementation of ‘holistic community projects’ (more details on these on a later blog), both within the refugee communities and in the local surrounding communities.

In the long-term, Ways of Change aspires to be able to provide support to refugees as they become repatriated, resettled or integrated into local communities.

The "Why"
The “why” is my favorite part because every time that I think about the potential of people, I feel the combined potential of every being in this Universe and the change which this will eventualize!

Ways of Change believes in an alternative model to refugee protection and development, one which builds upon peoples’ own skills, aspirations and entrepreneurship, as well as both protecting and utilizing the local environment. We believe that many refugees have the capacity to develop cultural patterns of sustainability due to their experiences, traditional knowledge and situational lack of resources (this is based on research I conducted in this border region in 2011).

This is a huge motivating factor right here (pay attention)! We believe that people affected by conflict and migration are highly likely to have a very far reach and contribution in the future (due to repatriation, resettlement or local integration). We believe that the world is revolutionizing, people are interested in holistic and sustainable approaches to living and connecting with the Earth. By providing education and opportunities in entrepreneurship and holistic and sustainable living techniques, which build on existing experiences and skills, we hope to influence future agents of change.

Of equal importance is our goal to support refugee communities in sustaining their traditional skills. Many migrant communities struggle to sustain these skills, whether due to lack of material resources, lack of interest from younger generations due to the desire to integrate locally, lack of a specific and unique skills to complete a process or lack of a marketplace for their products.

Meaningful engagement is vital for communities with limited freedom of movement and work rights. Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety often become the norm in such communities when there is no work, project or goal for an individual to focus their attention on. In other words a lack of meaning and hope in ones life is common in refugee communities. Ways of Change hopes to work against this reality by providing a market for people to utilize their traditional skills in a meaningful way.

The "Who"
And finally the “who.” We are cousins, Lauren Baird and Cara Boccieri (me) from the USA. We have been similarly inspired by our extensive global journeys. The collaboration of our inspirations are what pave the way for this venture. Fashion meets human resilience and potential, motivated by conscious and holistic living.

Lauren began her career in fashion in Milan, Italy where she worked in high end designer showrooms, moved on to styling and sales in San Francisco and finally worked as a head modeling booker in Australia. That is, until I poached her! I could not find a more passionate, qualified or innovative partner in crime if I scoured the globe all over again.

As for me, I spent many years living and traveling in Southeast Asia before completing my M.A. in International Peace Studies. I then returned to Thailand to carry out research on the Thailand Burma border regarding holistic approaches in refugee settlements. I have spent the past few years in Australia undertaking policy, and advocacy work for programs supporting people affected by migration.

The name, “Ways of Change,” recognizes the existence of the multiple avenues which can and will lead the world to change, it reminds us to keep an open-mind and appreciate others’ approaches to change as well. “Ways of Change” also pays tribute to our connection as a family in that the “Way” has been borrowed from our mothers’ maiden name, Conway.

As you can see we have a lot ahead of us, including a lot of experiential learning on our behalf. This blog will unravel as our journey does.

Thanks for connecting with us and stay tuned!

Cara Co-founder and Community Director @ Ways of Change