How Stylish Recycled Jewelry Is Empowering Women Artisans Around The World

i thought of you

I Thought Of You, Courtesy of I Thought Of You

I Thought Of You: The Story

Travel is everything to Mandy Nagel, the founder of I Thought of You, a woman-owned business which sells Fair Trade and sustainable products with a story.

Throughout her college years and beyond, Mandy made traveling a priority believing that experiences are more valuable than things that can be bought. Along the way, she came across many people from different walks of life and realized that they all shared one thing in common: they all have a story to tell. Says Mandy:

Whether it’s something completely new to you, or a different perspective they can share, traveling can help you grow and mature in your own life.

Greatly inspired by all these people she met while traveling, she decided to start her own company as a way to give back to the people who have given her so much.

After a couple of years of laying the groundwork for a prosperous business, I Thought of You was officially launched during Thanksgiving 2014. Not even a year has passed and they have already purchased more than 47,000 handmade and Fair Trade items from hardworking artisans. With partnerships in three countries, they aim to expand and finalize partnerships in an additional four countries soon.

I Thought of You operates under three noble principles:

  • Be supportive
  • Be fair
  • Be thoughtful!
i thought of you

I Thought Of You Jewelry, Courtesy of I Thought Of You

From a Corporate Job to a Meaningful Job

Mandy finds her inspiration in ordinary, everyday life. With a background in digital design and traditional marketing, she has worked for some of the world’s biggest brands including Apple, Inc., Dunkin Donuts, Febreze, Microsoft, Harry Potter, Warner Bros. Pictures, Xbox, and more, helping her refine her creative eye. Mandy explains:

Although I greatly enjoyed the experiences I had in a more corporate environment, I didn’t get a sense of fulfillment. I wanted to influence for the better, to bring positive change, and to leave a real mark. Being able to use my marketing and design experience for good is my passion.

i thought of you

Made From Fruit Jewelry Line, Courtesy of I Thought Of You

The Beautiful Story Behind the Made From Fruit Line of Jewelry

The Made From Fruit jewelry line is the most unique collection the brand offers. All jewelry is made from orange peels, açaí berries, coffee beans, cinnamon, cantaloupe seeds and nuts. According to Mandy, the orange peel items are especially popular because of their unique look and light, natural scent.

The way it works is quite simple — though very innovative and thoughtful. Artisans first collect discarded orange peels from street juice vendors in South America then roll them into roses, spirals, twists and other unique shapes.

The orange peels then go through a sun-drying process in order to get a hard leather-like texture retaining the natural oils which give the jewelry a citrus scent. Peels can either be left as they are or colored using natural dyes.

i thought of you

Artisan At Work, Courtesy of I Thought Of You

A Sustainable Business

Every product the brand offers is made with natural, sustainable, eco-friendly, or upcycled materials. Nothing is mass-produced, so customers know each purchase not only benefits I Thought Of You’s artisan partners, but is good for the environment.

Artisan partners are always paid up front for the cost of making the products. Many are those who would not be able to afford the costs of purchasing materials otherwise, a barrier that I Thought Of You can happily lift. The pricing system is also very democratic. Artisans are able to set their own prices that they can modify at will in order to ensure a steady and fair income to support their families.

i thought of you

Making Jewelry, Courtesy of I Thought Of You

On A Mission To Spread Hope

I Thought of You has a captivating tagline: “Our Mission is Simple: Spread Hope”.

They do that in a variety of ways. First, by providing job opportunities to artisans in developing countries who can earn a sustainable income by collaborating with them. Second, they only use natural, upcycled, recycled, or eco-friendly materials to make their products. Last but not least, they offer stunning products that continue the story to consumers based in the US.

Every time customers receive compliments on how unique the products they are wearing look, they can talk about where it came from and the people and natural materials behind the styles, something Mandy is very proud of.

i thought of you

I Thought Of You Jewelry Line, Courtesy of I Thought Of You

Get Involved

The majority of the brand’s sales are done through the online shop with customers typically finding out about I Thought Of You through word of mouth.

The brand also has a Curator program which supports individuals in the US who wish to sell their products, earning a commission with each sale. Curators host in-person events to share both the products and the brand’s story with people local to them. They contribute greatly to spreading the brand’s message further. Other possibilities for getting involved include hosting a pop up shop and helping with fundraising efforts.

By Sarine Arslanian

Also Check Out:

Artisans Of Rwanda: A Visit To Gatagara Pottery Near Kigali [Blog Inspiration]

Free As A Bird Necklace [Travel Style]

Tapping the Power Within: A Path to Self-Empowerment for Women by Iyanla Vanzant [Must Reads]

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Sarine Arslanian is a writer, documentary filmmaker, researcher and photographer with a passion for travel, arts and culture, society and development. She graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Development Studies.

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