How did 31 Bits get started?
I traveled to Uganda in the summer of 2007 and met women who were creating beads made out of paper, but lacked a plan to market and sell them. After spending time in their homes and hearing their stories I knew there had to be a way to give opportunities to my new friends. I spent the next year dreaming up a concept for a development organization. I brought a few friends on board and our ideas quickly evolved into 31 Bits. We traveled back to Uganda in August 2008 and selected six women to begin buying jewelry from on a monthly basis.
Tell us a little about the designers.
I create the 31 Bits’ jewelry designs along with our U.S. team and the women in Uganda make the jewelry. There are now 110 different Ugandan women that contribute to making the jewelry.
What materials are used in your collections making them so unique?
Each bead is made out of 100% recycled paper that has been dyed to fit the current season’s trends. Glass beads, leather fabric and stainless steel clasps also make up the jewelry. Look closely! It’s hard to tell that the beads are actually made out of paper.
How has the brand developed over time?
There has been much growth in Uganda – growing from just 6 women in the beginning to 110. We’ve grown to being sold only on the Vanguard Campus to being sold in more than 400 stores and boutiques. The programs in Uganda have grown significantly and now offer education, finance and business training for the women. In addition, our press has grown to reach Stylewatch, E! News and the Today Show.
How can your fans get involved?
There are so many opportunities for our fans to get involved such as throw a 31 Bits house party, attend a trunk show or launch party, follow us on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, 31 Bits Blog), and purchase 31 Bits at a boutique nearby. Wear your 31 Bits and share the story with your friends!
What is your personal fashion philosophy?
“Fashion for good.” We believe that what we wear should not only be fashionable – which we love – but sustainable as well!