According to an article on Psychology Today, Americans spend more annually on fashion accessories than college tuition; the amount spent on watches, jewelry, and shoes alone totals up to an unfathomable $100 billion. It’s unimaginable what kind of change could come from that kind of funding being directed towards social issues.
Tribe of Lambs is taking a step towards a more consciously consumerist world. The company – a Canadian based online store – is making a change with every sale of their ethically made jewelry and clothing lines; 100% of all profits goes directly to helping HIV positive children in India, as well as employing locals with livable wages and proper working conditions to provide economic growth.
Aura 32 was recently able to speak to the Founder and Creative Director, Bobbi Paidel, to learn more about the conscious company as well as how we can all become more ethical consumers.
Could you please explain how Tribe of Lambs came to be as well as briefly explain to our readers what the company is.
Tribe of Lambs began as a simple crowdfunding campaign to support At-risk youth & artisans in India. In the past 2 years Tribe has developed into a nonprofit jewelry brand empowering HIV positive children in India. We design all of our products & work together with artisans to handcraft each piece, with 100% of our profits being returned to our Compassion Projects, which directly impact the lives of HIV positive Children.
What happens when someone purchases a piece of jewelry on Tribe of Lambs?
When someone purchases a piece, makes a contribution or shares our story, they are doing so much more. They are joining a Tribe, a community of like-minded individuals working together for a social cause & conscious consumerism. We aren’t just about selling jewelry; we are about building something bigger. The jewelry simply symbolizes our mission.
What challenges do HIV positive kids face – aside from medical – that is unique to them?
Due to lack of education and awareness, persons with HIV in India are subjected to stigma & discrimination. So much so, those children aren’t allowed access to regular care such as housing & education…not to mention emotional & psychological support. There are millions of children in India facing daily struggles due to extreme poverty, hunger, illiteracy, lack of water & sanitation. But the at-risk child who also suffers from HIV is marginalized even further because of fear surrounding the disease. Our beneficiary, Ray’s Home for HIV positive Children, is 1 of 3 small homes in Jaipur. They are maxed capacity right now at 57 children while there are 3000 children registered with HIV in Jaipur alone (not to mention the ones that aren’t registered).
It says your website that education is a key element that funds go to – what precisely does the money go to?
Prior to this year, Tribe of Lambs supported a variety of causes, which supported ALL at-risk children, and an issue we are very passionate about is education. Education is the key component to end poverty. Since early 2016, we have focused our support solely on HIV positive children but are still VERY committed and focused on their education, qualifications, and experience to empower them to be highly employable, independent, contributing, and socially minded members of society. It is their right to live a full life and to inspire and educate those who come after them. Not only as HIV positive young adults but also as the future of a brighter India.
Could you please explain the working conditions/wages of the makers of the jewelry?
We had previously been working with a world fair trade certified manufacturer, but after visiting the facilities we realized that in larger production it is actually harder to monitor what is actually being upheld to fair trade standards. We now work with a small family run jeweler & manufacturer who we work closely with to develop our samples in their workroom. The actual production of the products take place in a nearby set of three larger workshops employing men and women who come from across the country to make livable wages for themselves & their families.
Why does this project fund HIV uniquely in India? Are there plans to broaden the “tribe” later on?
It is definitely our goal to establish ourselves as a standard for care, education, and opportunity for HIV positive people in India. It is our goal to build a facility to house 200+ HIV positive children with on-site access to infirmary, preschool, and housing, as well as operating our own jewelry cooperative to train and employ HIV positive women. Once this has been accomplished it would certainly be our goal to expand.
Could you explain to our readers what conscious shopping is and its importance?
Conscious shopping is simply being mindful of where your products come from, the social/environmental effects of their production and where they will go once they’ve been discarded. Consuming less and consuming compassionately, with others and the earth in mind is what will bring a vibrant future for us all.
What role do millennials hold for the future of ethical consumerism?
If they aren’t, they should be! Young adults, the millennials, hold all the power to bring living sustainably and considerately as the new norm. Our standard of living has become so jaded and skewed because of fast fashion, fast food, over consumption, and this concept of never enough.
What else can we do in order to help underprivileged children?
Get involved in organizations like Tribe of Lambs or other small NGO’s or nonprofits working directly with children, with locals, with their best interests in mind. If you don’t have money to donate, find a local meal share, children’s hospital, Boys & Girls club, Big Brothers & Sisters, tutoring program. There are children all over the world, right in your own cities and further than you can imagine, who need love, support, and basic necessities to flourish in life. We need to start working for each other, to lift each other up, rather than working for ourselves.
Is there a specific story from your charitable work that you would be willing to share?
Tribe of Lambs was never where I saw myself go but, once it started moving in this direction I knew I couldn’t go back. There are so many moments where I have been moved and touched by the sincerity and love that children have. A child is a child regardless of their economic, social, geographical or health background. They all hold the same potential and deserve to fulfill on that potential. It is my goal to offer that opportunity whenever possible. Recently, when I asked a little boy named Kalu what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said, “I want to ride the bus.” I not only want Kalu to ride the bus but I want to offer him the opportunity to dream bigger than that. I know we can do better. And we will.
Make sure to join the tribe on social media by using the hashtags #togetherwegive , #jointhetribe and #belove. And to shop at www.tribeoflamb.com
Find Tribe of Lambs on:
Interview by Jamie Hoholuk
Please note that answers may have been edited for length/clarity.
All photos provided by Bobbi Paidel