Meet our jewelry designer, Emily Grace Goodrich

Making Jewelry

Designing beautifully elegant jewelry isn’t simple. Designing beautifully elegant jewelry out of recycled material adds even more complication to the process. 

Emily, our jewelry designer, designs beautifully elegant jewelry out of recycled material and then teaches a group of 28 Ugandan women how to make all of our designs ready for our American retail market. 

Emily Goodrich, spends a majority of her year living in San Diego fulfilling various roles at the Ember Arts office. However, her greatest contribution to our company is her tremendous ability to design paper bead jewelry. 

For the next four months, Emily, will be living in Uganda teaching all of our Ugandan partners how to make our 2013 collection, a collection we believe to be our best yet. 

To learn more about Emily and to understand how she continually pushes the limits of what is possible with paper jewelry, we asked her a few questions. Her answers, about the work she does, are fascinating and reveal a side of Ember Arts most people never get to see. Here is what she shared. Enjoy.

As a jewelry designer what exactly do you do for Ember Arts?

My job entails forecasting jewelry and color trends in the U.S., and using what I know about our own market and the available materials in Uganda to find a middle ground. I do a bit of resource research as well, I just finished a day of scouring the markets to see what sort of new materials we might be able to incorporate into our jewelry. I also spend time in Uganda teaching things like color theory. For an idea of what that looks like, check out the sway earring, which is a piece I’m very proud of the bead makers for mastering, as light tints and a dark shades of a central color were once new concepts for them. We are continually working to build a color vocabulary that makes sense across cultures.

What will you be focusing your attention on while you are in Uganda?

We’ve already had a touch-up training session to remember the new designs for Fall/Holiday 2012, and to learn about making a great multicolor piece. In the next weeks, I’m going to be working with a smaller group of women to experiment with new bead shapes and new materials, and potentially some entirely new products. Then, I’ll be narrowing down a group of designs to start the training for 2013. I’ll also be looking for new kinds of materials that we can incorporate into the jewelry. In the past we’ve used ‘cavera,’ which is the local word for plastic bags. There are lots of interesting materials in the market, but they’re often available only once. Part of the work is to determine which items will be available consistently.

How many times have you been to Uganda?

This is my fourth trip to Uganda.

What is it like to work with a group of 28 Ugandan women, some of which you can not communicate with because of the language barrier? 

It’s a little challenging at times, sometimes I have to work with a translator, and I’ve definitely had to get used to being laughed at. These women love to joke, and it doesn’t always translate! But they are also starting to feel more and more like old friends. I’ve learned about 30 words in the Acholi language, and they get a huge kick out of it. They are also quick learners, mostly they teach themselves by looking at the samples, which makes things a lot easier for me. And I’ve learned a lot from them as well, like how to get a fair price for fabric at the market. You should see the glaring look of disgust that our smiling Gladies can pull off, which usually drops the price by at least 10,000 shillings!

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Michelle Larson: Ember Hero

[Ember Hero: A woman who inspires hope. To show our appreciation we donate 50% of online sales to the non-profit of her choice for one month.]

Michelle: Ember Hero

Michelle Larson doesn’t look the type to wade through knee-deep trash along the border of two developing countries. She’s pretty, stylish, and at the very least hygienic. Nonetheless she points to one such jaunt into the garbage as a formational moment in her life.

“The first time I took a visit to the city garbage dump in Mae Sot, Thailand [a Thai city on the border with Burma], I found myself knee deep in the trash, playing with the children who live there,” Michelle recounted to us by email from Mae Sot.  “Many of them had skin problems, horrible coughs, and smelled like… trash.” The children’s Burmese mother said that settling her family in the dump was the lesser of two evils, that keeping her family in Burma was far more dangerous.

Michelle has since spent the last several years traversing the borderlands of Thailand and Burma, educating herself on the brutal military regime that tyrannizes the Burmese people to this day, and exploring ways to support the many refugees that flee for their lives.

She helped found an organization called Eleho that publicizes the hardships of people in Burma and supports the best organizations serving them. And recently she was asked by those organizations to teach English to Community Health Workers, helping them to better understand the medical texts and drug labels that they rely upon. She is there now, working on a voluntary basis to spread hope in Burma.

We are proud to announce that Michelle is our next Ember Hero, and that 50% of all online sales through the end of October will be donated to Eleho to support Michelle’s work. You can shop online here.

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Store of the Week! Urban Girl Accessories in San Diego

If you live in San Diego, or plan to visit San Diego soon, or need an excuse to visit San Diego soon, then here it is: Urban Girl. A wonderfully stylish and creatively curated boutique right in the heart of world-famous Seaport Village. Check out this look pulling together our favorites from Urban Girl’s offerings for a perfect picnic outfit. Click thru to check out more of Urban Girl’s amazing finds!

Ember + Hemline + TOMS = Weekend Wonder

Hemline

Hemline is one of our favorite new stores, or rather, Hemline is a beautiful team of 10 stores, and we love them all. They have invested deeply in the story of our Ugandan partners and are a force for hope throughout the Southern USA. Today their website features a great summer look combing Ember jewelry with HEMLINE clothes and TOMS Shoes. It was created by our very own fashionista intern Laura. Check it out!

Lisa Dougan: Ember Hero

[Ember Hero: n - A woman who makes the world a more hopeful place. To show our appreciation we donate 50% of online sales to the charity of her choice for one month.]
lisa_bw

Talking to Lisa Dougan you might not know what an important force for hope she is. She speaks with unswerving humility about herself, and would likely turn the conversation to you, your interests and your successes, rather than focus on her own.

In fact even her success tends to focus on other people, on building peace and opportunity for those who find them lacking. She has helped open hundreds of thousands of eyes to Africa’s longest running war, seeded a community that bridges socioeconomic divides, and was recently invited to the Oval Office to meet President Obama in recognition for her advocacy and lobbying for children in East and Central Africa.

She is, in short, an inspiration. And our first Ember Hero.

In appreciation of her contribution to hope in our world we are donating 50% of all proceeds from our online sales through the end of the month to Lisa’s chosen charity: the Young Life Columbia Heights Program, which is investing in the lives of Washington DC teenagers from rough backgrounds with faithful, caring mentorship. Ember’s contribution will specifically go to help 30 of these teens attend a summer camp with Young Life that offers them the chance to connect more deeply with caring mentors and experience a different perspective on life.

Shop online thru July 31, and 50% will go to Young Life Columbia Heights.

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Meet the Embterns (the ‘b’ is silent)

We are pumped to introduce to you our first ever summer intern class! These wonderful human beings have devoted their summer to helping us take Ember Arts to the next level. You can follow their journey at their brand new blog: http://emberinterns.tumblr.com

embterns

laura

Laura Berry (bio by Joanna Oboza)
Laura Berry is a vegetable garden growing superstar in Haiti. Originally from Dallas, Texas, in her spare time she finds herself in Haiti, working to provide a sustainable food source for the impoverished people of Haiti by helping them grow vegetable gardens that are maintained through the compost of human solid and liquid waste. When not using her vegetable superpowers, she tries to live a normal life by going to Texas A&M working on a degree in Geography, Sociology, and Business. Trying to act like a normal college student as often as her non-normal but exciting life allows, she plays with her dog Bentley, watches a lot of hockey, crafts and sews, and enjoys spending time outdoors. If you happen to run into her somewhere in Dallas or Haiti, be sure to speak into her left ear because her right ear, unfortunately, will not pick up what you say. Hopefully one day when her life takes a more normal toll, she will be able to live on a sailboat (where she can read “Mountains Beyond Mountains”, a book that continues to change her life each time she reads it), help people tap into their creativity, and camp out at a Nascar Race. Although no super hero is ever able to live a normal life, Laura would never want to live a life other than hers because it allows her to continuously work on developing countries and projects. She has currently taken on a role as an intern at a company called Ember Arts where she hopes to learn about social entrepreneurship and its ability to truly empower women. As a child dreaming of being a weather girl, little did she know that she were to become a superhero with vegetable growing and waste composting super powers!

joanna

Joanna Oboza (bio by Sander Harth)
A unique Polish upbringing has catapulted Joanna Oboza into becoming the first Ember Intern who not only speaks a first language that is not English, but who can name over 50 different types of sausages. Despite being held back in Kindergarden for not knowing enough English, Joanna has overcome her language barrier and fear of eating the ends of bananas to establish herself as a fine young woman with a big heart and great aspirations. Besides being a psychology major at UCSD, she is involved with multiple well-known organizations, a few of which include Invisible Children and the Big Sister mentoring program. She has recently brought her passion for reading books and her dream to one day build a library in her own house to a more contemporary endeavor, tutoring refugees from Burma and Somalia in financial literacy. Joanna considers herself very fortunate to have the opportunity to intern at Ember this summer because she has a great passion for helping others in need, and by working at Ember she is going to experience how a business can both be profitable and play a major role in changing people’s lives for the better. While earthquakes are Joanna’s greatest fear, and the Ember office is located North Park (which is devastatingly close to the San Andreas Fault line), she has volunteered to risk her life in order to participate in what is most definitely going to be a life changing experience, not only for her, but for the 27 beautiful women in Uganda who work so hard to produce the Ember Arts jewelry we all adore.

sander

Sander Harth (bio by Laura Berry)
Sander the Surfer Superhero is not only big in size but business savy. He had a natural knack for business and dreams of owning his own company. Sander’s business aspirations are not only aimed to help himself, but also to help others who are less fortunate. He has worked closely with an agricultural company, Guayaki, based out of Argentina and helped promote their projects at his school, University of San Diego.  After taking a trip to Argentina and living with the indigenous Ache Guayaki Indians, he knew socially conscious business was a direction to aim. This superhero has linguistic power and is trilingual: English, Norwegian, and Spanish. These powers come in handy when you travel like sander. He’s studied in Spain and Mexico and has traveled all over the world ranging from New Zealand, Africa, Panama, Paraguay, Europe, and his favorite Costa Rica. Originally from Encinitas, CA, Sander can not imagine living anywhere but the San Diego area. He’s finishing his last year at USD where he is studying Finance, Accounting, and Spanish. In his free time you can find him surfing, hiking, playing volleyball, cooking, going to concerts, exploring, kayaking, or watching sports. In the future, Sander hopes to have started a family and own his own business.