Do you think beauty can change the world?
Let me tell you about my friend Danielle.
She creates beauty. Her paintings capture vivid colors, haunting beauty, and secret tenderness. They have been featured at several galleries and art shows. But she also went into my kids’ classrooms with her easel and paints, letting 5 year olds touch her work and asking them to help name her pieces.
She designs beauty. She can see potential everywhere. Clients want her to make their homes and offices inviting, artistic, and practical. This is easy for her. But even as the expert she extends grace and confidence as they participate in the process. Clients are empowered and grateful when they see their ambigious ideas come to life.
She celebrates beauty. Whether it’s at the Art Institute, renegade craft fairs, or a garage sale, she finds amazing things. She appreciates lines, colors, form, and function. She loves when a piece has a history. This year she found all these things in a new place, and it has changed her. She can’t stop talking about it.
Introducing Danielle Crilly, artist, interior decorator, and Trading Hope stylist.
I was raised as a farm girl in central Illinois. I didn’t see the ocean until I was in my twenties. I didn’t grow up going to church, or church camps, or mission trips. I hadn’t even heard of those things. I didn’t know what I was missing.
My worldview expanded when I worked and traveled in international sales at a publishing house after college. I devoured books. I learned about the beautiful and tragic in the world at our great church. I listened to many friends’ adventure stories from around the world.
When we moved to Wheaton (a suburb of Chicago), my husband, Crilly, and I prayed for opportunities to have more experiences with people from other cultures. That world ended up coming to us! An apartment complex minutes from our home was overflowing with people from other cultures. We were drawn in and started a life-long friendships with several refugee families, especially their children.
I spend my days painting, designing, and doing life with Crilly. Just this year I also got involved with Trading Hope, and it has changed my life.
What is Trading Hope?
A friend introduced me to Trading Hope when she began working for them as a writer and lifestyle consultant (here). Their vision is create sustainable change through opportunity and enterprise empowerment. I was intrigued by their mission:
- Alleviate poverty through good business
- Direct trade with partner artisans
- Social enterprise
When I saw the jewelry at her annual holiday boutique I wanted to buy it all! The pieces were so unique, beautiful, and hand-crafted. I eventually agreed to host a trunk show in my home. I love to throw a good party, and the thought of supporting the mission of Trading Hope and earning some free jewelry made it easy to say yes.
I really loved that event. That night I learned more about some of Trading Hope’s partner artisans: AIDS widows, mothers of kids with disabilities, women freed from trafficking, just to name a few.
What are you doing for compassion in this season?
I vowed never to get involved in direct sales. Totally not my thing. But the mission of Trading Hope hooked me. I could share hope and impact more lives by becoming a stylist. Our recent financial changes didn’t allow us to financially support as many international compassion projects as we had in the past. Representing Trading Hope was a way for me to use my time to have that kind of impact. To do something to help alleviate poverty in challenging places around the world.
I’ve presented Trading Hope at many trunk shows this year. It is delightful to be a part of women gathering together. They try on jewelry, compliment each other, laugh, and buy beautiful things. I always think about the world changing artisans who created the unique pieces the guests are admiring and ordering. I didn’t expect to love it so much.
How is Trading Hope different than you expected?
I didn’t expect to travel with this job! But from the moment I heard there was a Honduras trip with Trading Hope, I was in! It was an opportunity to scout and meet with potential artisan partners. I knew I would experience their world in a way I’d never been able to before. That, combined with my love of all kinds of art forms, and the community of traveling with women, sealed it.
I’m not a risk-taker, or a girl that likes to rough-it, but somehow the prospect of traveling to one of the world’s most dangerous countries (without my husband!) didn’t dissuade me for a moment! I was excited.
Can you tell us about one of your favorite days in Honduras?
One day we visited the municipal dump in Tegulcigalpa. We got to hand out food and water to some of the 1200 men, women, and children who live in and work there. The sights, sounds, and smells were staggering and surreal. We talked with beautiful people.
I wish I could describe three women I met there (we were not allowed to take pictures). Their faces were red and leathered, aging them far beyond their years. They stood talking with us with their arms around each other. I came to understand that while they weren’t family, they were amigas, bound by their strength, love, and loyalty for each other in this seemingly desperate place. I can’t stop thinking about it.
After meeting them we visited the AFE (Amor, Fe y Esperanza/”Love, Faith & Hope”) school, daycare, playground, and medical clinic that serves the families who live and work at the dump. It was full of life and hope. Please check out their website and Facebook page.
What was the craziest day in Honduras?
We were looking forward to visiting a potential partner artisan near the Nicaraguan border. Due to protests in the city of Tegulcigalpa we got out much later than expected. Night was falling as we drove through the harrowing, steep, curving mountain roads. We were hours late. When we got there “guards” with sawed-off shotguns slung over their shoulders grabbed our bags. We followed them in pitch darkness down a steep path to our cabin. Once we were settled in the cabin I went to brush my teeth and a scorpion crawled out the drain! There was a lot of screaming.
Did you find any artisans for Trading Hope to partner with?
We met so many wonderful people. Each day I learned new ways resilient, creative men and women were working hard to provide for their families. We met artisans at Mi Esperanza, Solo Hope, and Mission Lazarus. Each place was creating it’s own kind of beauty. It all spoke to my heart.
What was it like to come home?
I came home with a renewed sense of purpose. By providing a market for these artisans’ products we are providing education, housing, clean water, medical care, dignity, and hope.
But coming home was also hard. I keep asking myself, why do we have so much when others have so little? I worry about so many things, but not about how I will survive, eat, provide for my children, or find safe shelter. I’m humbled by what I have and outraged by what they don’t.
I can’t travel like this all the time, but I can impact the world in my every day life as a Trading Hope stylist. I now have faces and names in my heart that I will never forget. I’m inspired to work hard, have courage, and pray more.
Do you have any advice for those of us exploring different kinds of compassion?
Seize the opportunity to move outside your comfort zone when it comes your way. This trip was super stretching for me! But I would do it again tomorrow if I could. God met me there in my fears and anxiety. I was amazingly calm and unafraid. That was new and faith-building.
God uses the gifts, abilities and interests we already have. I didn’t go to physically build homes, teach kids, or dig wells. I went to meet with craftsmen, artists, and people with passion to create opportunities for them. It was legitimate, stretching, soul-growing, world-changing work. I loved it.
How can we join you?
I would love to talk with anyone about Trading Hope! People can read about it on their website (here), liking them on Facebook (here), host a party (here), or even join my team (here). I really hate direct marketing stuff, but I’m not ashamed of this. This isn’t about me – it’s about them! When people buy jewelry from Trading Hope they are changing lives!
To see our gorgeous pieces check out my webpage at https://daniellecrilly.tradinghope.com/store
Do you feel like you can’t do what other World Changers do? Good! Because God made you different from them. What delights you? What are you already doing? How could that change the world?
Do you feel like it’s too late for you? No way! Danielle went on her first mission trip in her forties. It changed her life, renewed her vision. What could you explore before 2015 ends? You can do it.
You are loved.
- Please note: Greta and I are big Trading Hope fans. We are hosting an online trunk show November 11th-November 17th!
- Danielle is generously donating 10% of all sales from this trunk show teacher salaries at the Haiti Partners Children’s Academy.
- We put together a separate post (here) of Greta doing an independent impromptu fashion show wearing pieces from Trading Hope’s Fall Collection. You will love the pictures. Full ordering info at the end. Thank you! – Love, A & G
Do you know a World Changer? We’d love to learn from them! Please introduce me to them in the comments below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
To learn from other World Changers, use the Search option below and type World Changer.
©Aimee Fritz & Family Compassion Focus, 2015.