International Blessings, an online store launched in 2012, supports the livelihood of over 20 artisan groups in 15 countries around the world. Missouri native and entrepreneur Sarah Barnett started the business after encountering global poverty first-hand during a two-week mission trip overseas. She came home eager to make a difference by helping impoverished families establish a sustainable income. Today, her store sells a wide variety of handmade items produced by artisans in developing nations.
Crafts for a Cause
Barnett’s Box of Blessings is the organization’s signature product. With a Box of Blessings subscription, customers receive monthly boxes filled with three or four unique, hand-crafted items from all corners of the globe. Popular selections include earrings, hand-sculpted figurines and more. The artisans tend to favor recycled materials, often repurposing old clay, glass and bone to adorn their crafts. A few more innovative and unusual choices include aluminum cans, seeds and fish scales.
Another option is Favorite of the Month, a cheaper subscription box containing just one item. Most Favorite of the Month boxes include jewelry such as earrings, a necklace or a bracelet.
Besides subscription boxes, the online store also sells individual handmade products. With just the click of a button, shoppers can purchase embroidered coin purses from Peru for $8 or leather bracelets from Swaziland for $12. Other featured collections range from lip balms to keychains to hand-dyed cotton headbands.
Each item comes with a detailed description card introducing its maker and place of origin. The store includes these cards to personalize deliveries, inviting customers to learn about experiences they might not otherwise confront in their daily lives.
Building a Better Tomorrow
All sales contribute to Barnett’s vision of creating jobs and eliminating poverty through the arts. The artisans who contribute their products acquire the resources to feed their families and send their children to school. In addition, International Blessings donates 10% of every subscription box to other poverty-fighting causes.
In the end, International Blessings offers more than charity. It helps impoverished people build stable livelihoods for themselves. Each year, International Blessings also partners with ministries, fair-trade organizations and non-profits to teach the crafts that change lives.
Tapping Into Local Talent
As founder Barnett explains on her website, “I am continually amazed at the creativity and the talent that can be found all over the world… I was in Burkina Faso, Africa, and sitting next to a girl that was teaching me her craft. I realized what a difference it would make for her family if I could purchase a large amount of her bags.”
Barnett saw this opportunity again when she met beading artist Layet Christine in Uganda. Christine now sells her necklaces to International Blessings. She uses the profits to care for orphaned children, as well as seven children of her own. In this way, the young mother is helping to break the cycle of poverty in her village. Her children are learning how to be entrepreneurs and how to hope for a better future.
Since Barnett’s first glimpse into the desperation of global poverty, International Blessings has blossomed into a far-reaching enterprise. The online store continues to provide customers with handmade, ethically-made products that lead to positive changes around the world. Her store continues to impact global poverty by providing jobs, training, and donations for the cause.
– Katie Painter