Is Trades of Hope a Scam? RESPONSE


The article, “Is Trades of Hope a Scam” has been shared around and I finally had the time to respond to it.  These are my honest thoughts as someone who has been a part of Trades of Hope for over 4 years:

I appreciate the thoughtful response and questions about Trades of Hope here. It’s important to do research on any new endeavor that you are considering, especially if it makes these kinds of significant claims. Since this was written, the website and compensation plan have both been updated quite a bit, so I encourage people to continue to research after reading this. And take their advice to talk with a real CE before making a decision. I am thankful to have been with the company for over four years and would be happy to flesh this out with anyone who is interested. I’m also honest about the challenges of this kind of business model and though I believe it’s doable for anyone who has the passion and resilience to do it, not everyone who has joined has lasted.

I also think some things have been misconstrued in this article. We work very hard NOT to have a “Great White Hope” mentality. But the reality is that opening up the US marketplace to our artisan partners is what’s allowing them to be paid fair wages (through our outside accountability as Fair Trade Federation members.) If you’ve ever traveled and shopped abroad in impoverished places, you know that you can haggle down prices with artisans and they are often not getting paid a living wage for their work.

Me&ElvinaNot to mention that every major US company that wanted a piece of Haiti in their shops after the big earthquake, haggled down prices with one of our major artisan groups there.  (This was told to us personally by their founder). Trades of Hope was the only company who didn’t haggle prices and the only one that has consistently partnered with them for the last 9+ years.

And it’s a DIGNIFIED PARTNERSHIP. I have personally visited artisan groups in three of the countries we work with and they bring their traditional crafts (beading, dying, weaving, clay work, upcycled traditional fabric, detail painting, block printing, etc.) , some handed down for generations, their gorgeous designs and products (that I could personally never create) and we, as Compassionate Entrepreneurs, bring access to the US marketplace and are the sales team for our product developers. We both bring something necessary to the table that the other doesn’t have and it’s a beautiful partnership.

GuatemalawithARtisansThe only free vacations offered are ones that you earn through sales (I just went on an amazing trip to meet artisan groups in Guatemala this fall with a group of fellow CEs) and it is possible to make a career of this, but (like most jobs) it takes consistency, effort and building a team.  #BetterTogether

I used to not like the idea of “recruiting” but have come full circle about that in the last four years. If Trades of Hope was merely a brick and mortar store or an online presence, you probably never would have heard of us.  We don’t have the celebrity connections and capital that many businesses do, and instead of spending gobs of money on advertising, we pay everyday women to work hard and be the pop up shops and speakers and influencers and Brand Ambassadors and event vendors and megaphones for our artisan partners voices.  (And why shouldn’t we get paid for our time, efforts and skills?)  Since our founding in 2010 we have created almost 20,000 jobs between the artisans we partner with and the Compassionate Entrepreneurs all over the US.

How many businesses have had that kind of exponential impact in such a short time?


And you know who else has no problem recruiting? Human traffickers. The latest trend is for pimps and trafficking ring leaders to financially incentivize victims to recruit more victims.  So until that bullshit stops, we need an ARMY OF WOMEN who are putting their compassion into action and making a difference for women coming out of trafficking as well as providing income opportunities that PREVENT women from being vulnerable to it in the first place.


BOTTOM LINE:  Trades of Hope is right in this awkward middle place between doing important sustainable work that is usually associated with non-profits (who seem to escape this level of criticism and often don’t provide long term sustainable solutions), and Direct Sales companies that provide flexible income for women (with a tainted perception to some.) But we don’t pay as much to our consultants because unlike so many of those DS companies, we pay the people who make our products fair wages.


Sometimes it feels like we can’t win, but I believe it’s a genius missional business model that balances the best of both worlds and plans to do good work and continue to grow for the better well into the future.  

And I boldly invite you to be a part of this sisterhood that is truly changing the world!  



It’s a lower financial investment than almost any Direct Sales company I’ve seen:  a kit of our top selling items at over 50% off with a variety of categories and countries represented.  $99 plus (shipping and tax) is all you need to wear and share HOPE at whatever level works for you.  No inventory to carry/store and no monthly purchases required.  Click “Become a Partner” for more details and/or to purchase a kit:

Thanks for reading and considering linking arms with a sisterhood that is injecting HOPE into the world everyday.  We want more women and a wider variety of women.  Come join us!!!




7 thoughts on “Is Trades of Hope a Scam? RESPONSE

  1. I’m retiring in a few years and love the objectives of helping others while earning cash for myself. My question is, can I earn enough cash to keep the business stocked with new items and sales supplies? I love the idea of earning a FREE trip, but I need cash. Is earning $500 monthly possible? I have been involved with several MLM companies, and spent more then I earned.

  2. I’m retiring in a few years and love the objectives of helping others while earning cash for myself. My question is, can I earn enough cash to keep the business stocked with new items and sales supplies? I love the idea of earning a FREE trip, but I need cash. Is earning $500 monthly possible? I have been involved with several MLM companies, and spent more then I earned.

  3. I’m actually *excited* to answer this question, Rachel, so thanks for asking it. First, I’m glad you have the experience with this business model (although MLMs and Direct Sales have some differences) so you can analyze the potential for this new opportunity with more detail and knowledge.

    Frugality is a high value of mine and my husband and I determined that I was going to invest as little of our own money in Trades of Hope as possible. (I had signed on as a member of an Essential Oil company and did not like that we had to spend $100+ of our own money every month in order to collect commission on the people’s purchases under us.) Trades of Hope has NO monthly spending requirements. You only need to SELL (not SPEND) one product a year to stay active. You only need to SELL $300 a month to collect commission on your initial team (up to $1000 when you become a Director) so as to discourage leaders from “coasting” on the sales of their teams.

    The $99 kit (plus shipping and tax) is one of the least expensive buy-in options that I’ve seen and Trades of Hope is the only company I know that gives the option to earn a coupon for your kit through the rewards of hosting a party first. I paid $30 in tax and shipping to start my business because I earned a $100 kit coupon for hosting a $600+ party. They also have an awesome set of rewards for your first 60 days of sales where you can earn up to $100 in product coupons (in addition to your commission) as well as a a free top selling necklace set and a host of really exciting humanitarian rewards and exclusive products after that. And then, Trades of Hope is one of the only companies of its kind that allows its Partners to open their own shopping links to earn our generous hostess rewards as well as commission. So I earn hostess rewards throughout the month and save them up to use on the new product lines. And they actually discourage us from carrying inventory since we ship directly to the customer. I can’t say enough about how financially doable this is.

    And making $500 a month is absolutely possible. The comp plan starts at 25%, so you can sell $2000 in product a month to earn that right away. An average party is $400-$500 so if you had one a week (plus gathering a few outside sales) you could do that. I have averaged selling at least $30K a year and sold $50K last year. BUT that’s not always sustainable long term and some months are harder to book gatherings/parties/events than others, so sponsoring new Partners is the best way to earn a steady income because Trades of Hope pays us for our time to manage a team (off of their sales, not their personal spending.) And if you start now (holiday season is the easy time to begin) and work consistently at whatever level you want until you retire, you would have a thriving business!

    And as you mentioned, that added level of blessing others while blessing ourselves produces an amazing win-win and beautifully dignified partnerships. Inviting more women into our sisterhood exponentially benefits our artisan partners (and allows us to partner with more!) which is our main priority.

    I can email you the visuals of our comp plan, Purpose Path (first 60 days), and the Map to the Dominican Republic which is next year’s visions trip destination to meet our new artisan partners there! Please find me on FB (Melanie Sunukjian) and IG @beauty.and.grit to continue learning more about Trades of Hope. Thanks for your interest and let me if you have more questions. Blessings!

  4. Why don’t you just join a true accountability group and tell how much your executives make etc. and how much is spent on buying the items, then one can believe you. I looked at Fair Trade Federation, and it sounds great if you are a politician who wants to say loads with no verification (maybe you are associated with our President). How do you get and verify the job creation numbers. I would love to believe you, but until I can really verify, I will stick with Rehab’s Rope.

  5. Which accountability organizations do groups like Rehab’s Rope use? The Direct Sales Association is another group that we are a part of that has accountability for its members as well. They have a vested interest in making sure that their members aren’t screwing people financially because it reflects badly on their reputation as an industry.

    And every group that is doing something good in the world needs as many supporters as it gets – so thank you for supporting Rahab’s Rope.

    Trades of Hope is directly connected with the leadership of every artisan group that we partner with. We collect numbers each year on the amount of artisans who worked and the amount of people in their family who benefitted from the fair wages. It’s actually a fairly simple and straight forward task.

    Meanwhile, it’s nearly impossible to state a general number or percentage when we have an ongoing rotation of around 100 products that take different amounts of time to make with a variety of raw materials that have different values. And they come from 18 different countries with 18 different economies, so it would be a near impossible task.

    It’s difficult for those who think of non-profits and volunteerism as the only way to help people to see that dignified business partnerships can actually do more sustainable good in the long term. And Business As Mission takes away the White Savior mentality that has done a lot of harm in the past. Check out the documentary Poverty Inc. or read the book When Helping Hurts for more information.

    There are always people who aren’t going to trust us no matter what. It’s ironic though, that often those same people don’t grill Amazon or Target or Walmart or ___________ about how much THEY pay their producers to make THEIR products – or decide to stop shopping with them when they learn how much their multi-million dollar CEOs make. Instead of asking why Fair Trade costs so much, perhaps we should ask why everything else is so cheap.

    Maybe you should use your concern to go after the Big Guys who are taking advantage of the global poor in sweatshops everyday to make a quick buck off of consumers buying cheap crap, rather than assume the worst about two mother-daughter pairs who invited everyday women like me to – whether you believe it or not – change the world in a beautiful and creative way.

  6. As it is late here (I am overseas doing self supporting ministry myself) I will just give you two fair trade certifications that mean something: Fair Trade Labeling Organization (FLO) and their national initiatives (FT Canada); IMO’s Fair for Life.

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