Ok, raise your hand. How many of you have tossed earrings and necklaces in the trash after they've broken. Most of us. Not Anna Joy of Consider Grace. She actually gets excited about broken jewelry because she's using it to create beautiful new pieces that a) don't end up a landfill and b) help in the fight against sex trafficking! We loved getting to learn more about her business and her passion - and know you will too. We think it is cool how each and every one of us has unique areas we're inspired by and passionate about. May her story inspire you to pursue your own individual ways to make a sustainable, healthy, ethical (SHE) difference! And check out her shop for unique, up-cycled jewelry with a purpose! Enjoy!
Tell us about what you do!
Anna Joy: Since most of the things I have wouldn’t be worth much on their own, I started repurposing all kinds of things in an effort to sell my stuff and give it to the poor. When the Consider Grace shop first opened, I had more than jewelry for sale. Old clothes turned into scarves and hair accessories. Books turned into paper flowers. Even garbage – tin cans wrapped in pretty paper to become pencil cups. Paper towel rolls cut up into wrought-iron style wall-décor. It was in the early days of Pinterest, before “repurposing” was such a thing. For Valentine’s Day one year, I made a small collection of jewelry and it sold out in just a couple of days. It was really fun, and jewelry was an easy thing to take apart and re-assemble, so eventually my shop morphed into 100% jewelry.
You repurpose jewelry and give it new life! How did you get started doing that?
Anna Joy: There is a Bible story in which a rich, powerful man asks Jesus what he can do to have the best life. Jesus tells him to sell all of his possessions and give to the poor, and the rich man walks away sad, deciding he can’t follow Jesus’ advice. There are a lot of people way smarter than me who probably know the best ways to interpret that story, but to me it’s really simple and straightforward. Freedom and joy come from getting rid of junk and helping other people.
"Freedom and joy come from getting rid of junk and helping other people."
Does sustainability and the principles of reusing and recycling play a role in your business model?
Anna Joy: Sustainability itself in the principle of recycling is not a part of my business model, but I would say it is a happy byproduct.
What is the inspiration behind your pieces and the designs? Walk us through the process.
Anna Joy: Since nearly every piece I create for the Consider Grace shop is one-of-a-kind, the inspiration process is very chaotic for me, and I rarely begin a piece with a picture of how it will turn out at the end. I follow some jewelry makers on social media, and I get ideas from them. If one of my friends (or, let’s be honest, even a perfect stranger) is wearing an interesting piece of jewelry, I will ask them to let me examine it. I also get a lot of ideas when I’m disassembling the jewelry that has been donated to me. I pay attention to how things are put together and what pieces look pretty with other pieces as I’m taking them apart. And when it comes time to actually create a piece, it’s a very disorganized process. I literally have piles of jewelry in my studio at home, and I will randomly dig around a pile until I find something that sparks my interest in that moment and then start fiddling with it until I decide what I’d like to put with it. The only rules I have are that it has to be something I would wear myself, and it has to be made by me. Even if I get a broken piece of jewelry that I could just fix and then sell, I don’t. I always have to put my own spin on it.
"The only rules I have are that it has to be something I would wear myself, and it has to be made by me."
Why human trafficking? There are a lot of BIG issues to tackle in the world? What led you to this one?
Anna Joy: As someone who has always been very loved, and never abused or sexually wounded in any way, I can’t explain WHY I have such passion to fight sex trafficking. But I can tell you how it happened. When the movie “Taken” came out, it was my first exposure to the realities of sex trafficking. I was struck so very deeply by many of the scenes in the movie, and I was expecting there to be some information at the end of the movie before the credits began to role. Something like, “To learn more about human trafficking and what you can do to help, visit www.stoptraffic.com.” I was shocked when the movie ended and nothing like that showed on the screen. I left the theater feeling like, “Well NOW what?” and I didn’t sleep for several nights.
It happened to be Justice Week at my school that week, and I found a flier that said an organization that fights human trafficking in St. Louis was going to be holding a seminar one night that week. I showed up for the seminar, listened to the presentation, and then asked the woman presenting what I could do to help. She said really what they needed was more funding. Sometimes they would show up to rescue a girl from slavery, and there would be other girls who wanted to come but would be left behind simply because they had no resources to help them. So my husband (fiancé at that time) and I started selling t-shirts to support the organization, Crisis Aid.
You now support Crisis Aid with the Consider Grace shop, correct? Can you explain to readers how their purchase helps fight sex trafficking?
Anna Joy: I send 100% of all profits to Crisis Aid, which is an organization in St. Louis that fights sex trafficking globally and here at home in the United States. They began this work in 2007, and have helped more than 560 women ages 9-30. In Ethiopia, they currently have safe homes for women who have been rescued that provide food, shelter, clothing, emotional and spiritual counseling, medical services, education, and vocational training. They also have a training center called “Mercy Chapel” because there are more women in need than space available in the homes. At Mercy Chapel, women who are still trapped can receive training for new careers so they can find a way out of the sex industry. Options include computers, sewing, hairdressing, screen printing, and weaving.
In the United States, Crisis Aid opened a safe home at the end of 2012, which provides young girls with professional counseling, education, medical and mental care, life skills programs, and recreational activities. The programs in both the United States and Ethiopia benefit from purchases at the Consider Grace shop.
What is your favorite healthy treat when the going gets tough?
Anna Joy: You’re being so kind in your assumption that when the going gets tough, I choose a healthy treat! When the going gets tough, honestly I choose pizza. Ha! But my favorite healthy treats tend to come straight from the ground…pomegranate seeds, cashews, feijoa fruit, sugar snap peas. If I want to put a little effort in, I like wild rice and asparagus.
How can readers support you?
Anna Grace: I would be honored if you think of the Consider Grace shop at Christmas, Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, birthdays, graduation, or any other time you need to buy a gift for a lady you love. In the meantime, I am always creating new pieces which means I am always in need of old jewelry to repurpose. If you have single earrings or broken necklaces, or even stuff you just don’t wear anymore, you can send it here:
1121 Miller Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49003
Here's to giving old things new life,
Anna Joy, Founder of Consider Grace