Living WE is about celebrating successes of all kinds and over the past couple of weeks there have been some really BIG things to celebrate. There was the big announcement from Craig about the evolution of WE, the countdown to the WE Day broadcast on ABC on August 28th and the opening of the first, full-time, permanent WE store!
In the days before the WE store opening at the Toronto Eaton Centre on July 28th, I had a sneak preview.There are some really cool things about the store that you need to know:
If you live WE like I do, the WE store is our candy store. It is filled with the products that you already know and love, like the original Rafiki bracelets for the 5 Pillars, unique pieces from the artisan collection and traditional shukas from Kenya. But friends, let me tell you about some of the new products that I’m really excited about.
The Minga Bracelet:
A minga is a call to action – community coming together for purpose and is a huge part of the WE culture. Like the Rafiki from Kenya, the Minga Bracelet from Ecuador shows and gives your support to each of the 5 Pillars of WE Villages – Education, Water, Food, Health and Opportunity. The Minga bracelets are woven in the traditional craft of the region. “When you wear a Minga Bracelet, you’re joining a movement of people working together to transform our world.” You want them all, right?
These are beautiful. New Rafikis for different moods or inspiration. Like when you need to stop and take a deep breath – there’s a rafiki for that. These 6 new rafikis all support the Water Pillar and they represent different ways that we think about water. Reflection. Momentum. Refresh. Serenity. Strength. Calm. They’re beautiful.
I AM WE Rafiki:
This new rafiki celebrates everything WE and it is no surprise that I love this one so much.
The WE store is more than just a store where you can buy great things and make a difference at the same time. There are different experiences that have been built into the store that you can participate in while you’re there. (1) You can Track Your Impact on the spot on tablets set up in the store. Every ME to WE product comes with a unique code that you enter at we.org and see where in your difference is happening. (2) Experience WE Villages in virtual reality and (3) Take the Pledge to Live WE. When you tap the pledge screen 1L of clean water is donated and when you take the pledge, 25L of clean water is donated to a WE Village community. Watch it grow as everyone’s click is counted and it all adds up. (4) The store is beautiful and I loved to to see the really cool ways that rafikis have been used as part of the design.
The WE store at Toronto Eaton Centre is part of a new partnership with WE and Cadillac Fairview (CF). The WE store is the first time that CF has donated long-term space to a charitable partner and is only the beginning of their support of WE:
- CF will support 20 schools across Canada by opening property space to students to reach out to other community members, showcasing their action plans for making a difference and amplifying their powerful message for local and global change.
- CF will also host ‘evening of inspiration’ celebration events to honour outstanding Canadian students who have earned their way to attend WE Day in five cities across Canada.
- CF will award scholarships to 20 outstanding world-changers from the WE Schools program providing them with the opportunity to attend ME to WE’s Take Action Camp next summer where youth can discover their passion, build confidence and develop leadership skills.
- This is just the beginning. There are more fun and exciting things from this partnership that are going to be announced in the weeks and months to come.
At the preview to the WE store I had a guided tour of the store and the chance to sit down and talk with Roxanne Joyal, CEO of ME to WE. I have to tell you that Roxanne is one of my favourite people and I am inspired by her passion to create and facilitate change. We had such a great conversation that included everything from how the ME to WE artisans program began to what she sees as it’s greatest accomplishments. I’m going save it and I’ll be sharing it all in it’s very own post soon.
I recently came back from Kenya where I had got to spend time with some of the Mamas who are part of Roxanne’s ME to WE artisans program and make the products that are in the WE store. ME to WE Artisans was created in 2010 after Roxanne saw the talented Massai beaders travel daily to small tourist markets that had so many competing products that they were had to sell their beautiful work at a loss.
Today, ME to WE Artisans employs more than 1500 women full-time in Kenya and Ecuador, providing them with a source of income so that they can pursue their dreams and support the dreams of their children. The women who work with ME to WE Artisans are paid a fair wage for their work, often earning 2 to 3 times more than before. As part of the program, the women are also given financial literacy and leadership training so that they are empowered to build their own future.
The women who make the ME to WE artisan pieces are mostly Mamas and they are given the opportunity to work in ways that honour their role and responsibilities at home. Many of the rafikis that come from Kenya are made by Mamas in their homes who make them when they have time in between taking care of their home and family. They are not always able to leave their home to work and they can make the rafikis at home.
For the women that are able to leave their home to work, they come to the Empowerment Complex where they make the beautiful pieces that you can buy online at ME to WE and now in the WE store at the Toronto Eaton Centre. When I visited the Empowerment Complex the women were making some of the pieces that I saw in the store.
I have always known where the products come from, but it was really amazing to see them from the very beginning. In Kenya I saw the WE Villages Opportunity Pillar in action and at the WE store, it comes full circle.
If you live in or come to Toronto to visit, check out the WE store at the Toronto Eaton Centre. You can also shop ME to WE anytime, from anywhere, online at https://shop.metowe.com/.