January 2020

In the ’90s, Menlo Park resident Stephanie Ekoniak was in the Peace Corps and later worked in business development in Eastern Europe. But, as she explains, she “drifted from that path, went to business school and worked in high tech.”

“So when I found out about Threads,” she continues, “I connected with it right away. It offers women the ability to earn money by making jewelry and gives them a voice.”

Threads was founded in 2011 by three women who partner with artisan cooperatives and businesses in Bolivia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Uganda and Vietnam.

“There are only about 40 representatives in the U.S., and I’m the first in the Bay Area,” says Stephanie. “What appeals to me is that not only are the women paid a living wage, they also have safe working spaces and utilize sustainable raw materials.

“There is real collaboration in that we honor their cultural esthetic while encouraging them to make jewelry that is marketable here.”

Threads jewelry is sold at in-home parties. Using that model, more money flows back to the jewelry makers than if the jewelry was sold through retail channels. “That’s my favorite part of the job,” says Stephanie about the parties. “Lots of female energy together!”

Stephanie is looking for people to join her as a Threads partner. You can find out more online or contact her directly: Sekoniak[at]gmail.com.

Photos by Robb Most (c) 2020

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