READ THIS before joining Trades of Hope

It’s important to research any new endeavor that we are considering.  I love to research, so I’ve done a lot of the work for you.  I’m going to share  FIVE THINGS about Trades of Hope that I didn’t know until I get involved in hopes that it helps you make a more informed decision.

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When I heard of Trades of Hope from a friend over 2 1/2 years ago, I was initially intrigued by the genius idea of creating jobs in America that directly partnered with artisans around the world to break the cycle of poverty.  And to do it not just practically, but through creating and marketing beautiful products was quite a bonus.  I watched every youtube video I could find (which wasn’t very many at the time) and scoured the website for more details.  I was hesitant about the Direct Sales and home party business model, because I had some negative experiences in the past.  But the mission kept me interested.

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I eventually decided to join because:

  1. We needed a supplemental income.  My husband is a teacher, we live in Southern California and have 4 kids.  You do the math…
  2. After 10 years of being a stay at home (and school) mom, I was ready for a little something that gave me the opportunity to have a wider global impact.

But here were the things that I started to learn as I got more involved…

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1) THE FINANCIAL INVESTMENT of an upfront cost of $99 for the kit (plus tax & shipping) didn’t feel very risky, particularly compared to other network marketing businesses.  I was actually able to earn my kit by hosting a party first and purchasing with my rewards ( I don’t know of any other company that does that.)  So I basically paid $20+ dollars for tax and shipping to join.  (There is an optional $14.95 per month that can come directly out of your commission to pay for your own website, online store, and marketing portal.  If you’ve ever tried to start your own business, you know that’s a pretty reasonable deal!)

ARCAnd there was no inventory to purchase, store, mail out or get stuck with, because they ship all orders directly to the customer from their distribution center (which employs adults with disabilities through the local ARC program in Florida.)

And because we don’t have the overhead costs of brick and mortar stores, our Fair Trade pricing is competitive, reasonable and accessible.

Also, there are no purchasing requirements for Compassionate Entrepreneurs in order to collect commission.  You have to sell at least one product every 6 months to remain active and once people who love the mission join the sisterhood with you, you have to sell $300 a month (a below average party), to get your pay for managing a growing team.  But I wasn’t interested in growing a team, so I didn’t pay much attention to that.

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The founders and me

2) I started learning more about THE FOUNDERS who are genuine and generous women – two mother-daughter pairs who have huge hearts and just want to break the cycle of poverty in a creative way.  One had started a non-profit in Haiti (that Trades of Hope still partners with) but after some difficult experiences, realized that the charity model wasn’t working.  13226978_10153782835673198_6494777367083077113_nThey personally visit the countries and artisans that we work with and bring back stories that start tragically, but end in redemption.  I’ve met and personally interacted with the founders multiple times online, on the phone and at our retreats and they are passionate, life-long learners who want to leave a legacy.
They also donate 10% of the net profits through Gifts of Hope to give all manner of helpful humanitarian gifts around the world, including trauma counseling, sewing machines, sustainable gardens, income producing animals, and multiple educational opportunities in India, Kenya, Thailand, Guatemala, and Haiti.

3) So the founders were great, but then I and my customers were asking questions about ACCOUNTABILITY.  There have been scams out there, so how do we know that the money is going where they say it is?  FairTrade Well, pretty quickly into my time there, they excitedly announced that we were officially Fair Trade certified through the Fair Trade Federation which was a multi-year process with very stringent requirements that include the following protections for our artisan partners: living wages, safety in the work place, no child labor, environmental sustainability, equal employment opportunities, long-term relationships and transparency. And Trades of Hope is also part of the Direct Selling Association, which keeps them from being a pyramid or ponzi scheme (which are illegal because no actual service or product is sold), and has a code of ethics (enforced independently) plus resources in place for the protection of consultants and customers.  The Trades of Hope’s customer service team is warm and outstanding (a simple picture is needed for returns on products if they arrive broken from shipping) and they welcome and lean heavily on the feedback of their Compassionate Entrepreneurs.  I could name off multiple improvements that they have made in the company that I have personally given feedback about.  This is truly a “people first” business.

4) This all surprised me because I’d always considered Network Marketing to be the “ugly step sister” of legitimate business.  But I’ve slowly become convinced that THE BUSINESS MODEL is actually the most effective one for bringing exponential solutions through empowerment, job creation and relief from poverty.  In 7 years we have developed 13,000+ dignified partnerships with artisans in 16 countries around the world (including the US.)   And we are creating jobs right here in the States with over 5,000 Compassionate Entrepreneurs (and counting) joining our missional business.  The more women who join, the more artisans we can partner with – simple and exponential!

TupperwareBusinessWeek.jpegAs well, the history of Direct Sales is something to be proud of because it has played a huge role in women’s equality in the US.  In 1854, Avon was the first point of entry into the work force for single moms long before women even had the right to vote (1920).   And the first woman on the cover of Business Week magazine was the Brownie Wise, who innovated the successful party plan for Tupperware, outselling department stores across the country. She is now featured in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

5) And this is one of the newest realizations that I’ve had as a result of being in the THE SISTERHOOD of Trades of Hope.  This missional business draws such an amazing CEJoingroup of women.  Since being founded in 2010, we currently partner with over 13,000 artisans in 16 nations around the world (including 2 groups in America.)   And as of 2017, we have over 6000 Compassionate Entrepreneurs in the US that are changing the world one Fair Trade product at a time.  That’s almost 20,000 jobs created in 7 years!

In 2.5 years, I have met amazing, like-hearted women all over the US who support each other on line and meet up multiple times a year through our annual retreat, leadership conference and vision trips to meet our business partners!  And I have built a team of old friends and new ones who are linking arms to empower  vulnerable women and provide for our own families.  Win-win!  Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.

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In conclusion, I joined Trades of Hope 2 1/2 years ago thinking it was a pretty cool mission and I have consistently grown more and more passionate about our effectiveness, beauty and potential.  We may not be the fastest growing Network Marketing company, but our goal is sustainability.  We have a higher stake in the game, because our artisan partners are truly counting on us.  And we will still be here when some of those other companies may have faded.

So if you are considering joining the Trades of Hope sisterhood, rest assured that you are about to be part of something very special.  If you are already connected to a Compassionate Entrepreneur please join her team.  I am in no way trying to compete against one of my world changing sisters – that’s just not our culture.

But if you just found me through your research efforts and would be interested in joining my team of amazing women from all over the US, then I would love to connect with you more.  So leave a comment and we will be in touch.  Also check out more information here and feel free to ask any questions that you still might have.

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Thank you for considering changing the world with us.  You will be so glad you did!

Melanie Sunukjian,

Director Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of HOPE!

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