Monday, February 8, 2016

Julia Jenkins Empowers Women with Noonday Collection

I'm so glad I met Julia Jenkins. She is so many things, including...a mom-of-three, a fun/classy lady, and a Noonday Collection Ambassador. If you haven't heard of Noonday, think of it as a fair-trade fashion company that will throw trunk shows at your house with some of the proceeds helping adoptive families. "Wow!" right?

Julia is as passionate as I am about empowering girls and women. I love the fact that she does it in a different way than I do, but it all comes from the same place of love, hope, and practical optimism. She's my guest blogger today, sharing with you how Noonday is empowering her as well as her customers and the artisans that make all the beautiful accessories in the Noonday Collection. PLUS, if you are a U.S. reader and leave a comment for us on this blog answering the question "How do you empower women?" by 9PM CST February 15th, you'll be in a drawing to win a Noonday Collection scarf!
Thank you, Julia, for sharing your story.

Julia's Story
As a Noonday Collection Ambassador, I regularly stand in front of hostesses and their guests telling stories about artisans who make the gorgeous handmade jewelry and accessories I showcase in their homes. While they sip wine, I tell them about how lives are transformed, because of the power having a job. I show them how amazing they look wearing a statement necklace made by one of our artisans. I empower them to change the world and feel beautiful at the same time.

But, here's my secret: Each time I stand up in front of a group of customers, I am trembling (and sweating). The voices in my head say that I'm not pretty enough, thin enough, well-spoken enough, outgoing enough, or confident enough to do this justice.

I advocate on behalf of women---women who depend on the job they have to live, and that happens because of my voice, and your purchases. It’s something I feel very called to spite of my sweaty armpits!

I recently returned from Austin, Texas where I had the privilege of meeting some of Noonday’s partner artisans. It’s incredibly humbling to meet these ladies. This is Ana:

Ana lives in Guatemala and learned the beautiful tradition of blackstrap loom weaving from her mother when she was just seven years old. As she grew, she became unsatisfied with the way she saw economic opportunities for women in her village. She sought out ways to make a difference. At the age of 28, she now owns a business and employs 30 female artisans. Ana partners with Noonday to make beautiful scarves. In this picture, you can see how each one is made. It takes five hours to weave one.

I’ve adopted a really powerful mental exercise that I learned from Melissa Russell, from the International Justice Mission, that she uses before she asks people for money to help her end human trafficking.

I imagine myself sitting down next to Ana, and telling her that I just don't feel confident enough to stand before you, because I’ve gained five pounds, and you have really pretty friends, and over 20 of them will be there, and I get really, really sweaty. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?! 20 ladies who can use their purchasing power for good, so that Ana can hire more single mamas to do weaving. I want to talk to those ladies, and tell them all about Ana!
In spite of myself, and because of the women I represent, I’m an ambassador. And I work at it, so that I can do it better!

Here's what Ana has taught me, and there's something here for you, too. Ana knows she's enough. She was 20-years-old when she started her business. At twenty, she was giving single mamas the opportunity to weave in their homes, so that they can also take care of their small children! And here's the truth: 
You are enough! I am enough, and so is that pretty/thin/well-spoken/confident woman across the room. Her “enough-ness” doesn’t diminish my own. And we can elevate the worth of all women when we stop listening to the voices that tell us where we fall short, and start empowering those around us.
What if we all chose to live wholeheartedly, and pour into women around us, rather than listen to the voices in our heads saying that we don't measure up? When we stomp those voices out, and believe that we are enough, we have the power to change the world!

Ana has this dream of building her business to provide jobs for 100 women! Isn’t that incredible? I want to help her on her way to that goal today. Enter to win the scarf Ana was making by answering this question in the comments by 9PM CST February 15th
How do you empower women? 
We ALL empower the women around us--each one of you can add a voice to this conversation. I can't wait to hear what you have to say!