In Nepal, a survivor of sex-trafficking sits at a sewing machine stitching together a dress. In India, a handicapped woman learns the ancient art of block printing. In Honduras, a single mom weaves pine needles and thread together to create bracelets.
Today around the world, artisan groups can be found empowering their partners with dignified jobs, fair wages, safe work environments and ultimately, hope. It’s a movement some call fair trade or “fairly traded.” It’s about valuing the people who make clothes, jewelry and home goods just as much as the actual product is valued.
And that is what Fashion for Hope, a fair trade fashion show, hopes to showcase to women in the South Georgia area. SoloHope will host Fashion for Hope at the Zebulon Theater in Cairo on Saturday, April 13 at 10:30 a.m.
SoloHope is a non-profit organization started by Grady County native Emilee Connell-Umanzor who works in Honduras with women overcoming poverty to create jewelry and home goods from available resources such pine needles, thread and clay. SoloHope’s U.S. headquarters recently relocated back to Cairo. In recent years, the organization’s mission has expanded to include education initiatives and community development projects but Connell-Umanzor states its heart remains in renewing hope and empowering people overcoming poverty through job creation.
She says the non-profit business model has proven successful time and time again – offering individuals longing to rise above poverty the opportunity for a hand up rather than a handout.
At Fashion for Hope, women of all ages from the Cairo and South Georgia community will “walk the runway” in clothing and accessories ethically made by organizations like Mata Traders, Elegantees, JOYN, The Root Collective, and SoloHope. “The goal of the event is to show attendees that women can change the world through fashion. By using our purchasing power, we have the ability to say to a woman in Honduras that she matters and that we believe in her,” Connell-Umanzor states.
And, the event isn’t just changing the lives globally, it is changing them locally, as well. When the recent tornado tore through Cairo, the SoloHope team decided to donate 20 percent of all ticket sales from Fashion for Hope to tornado recovery relief. Additionally, the event will be catered by the Cairo High School culinary arts program.
“We want to show people, specifically women, that their fashion can make a statement for more—it can make a statement for hope. Our fashion, our home décor really has the ability to change the world,” says Connell-Umanzor. “And we want all the women who come out to this event to really have a fun time while they change the world!”
After the fashion show, a pop-up shop of all the brands and styles featured in the fashion show will be available for purchase. “Attendees will literally get to ‘shop the runway’ and all for a great cause,” Connell-Umanzor says. All proceeds from the event will further SoloHope’s non-profit efforts in Honduras to renew hope and empower women and families through job creation, education, and community development all while displaying the love of Christ.
“Even though I now live in Honduras, Cairo is my hometown and will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m so excited about this event bringing so many of my favorites together—our historic theater, students from my alma mater, and fashion empowering women from around the world,” says Connell-Umanzor.