Sisterhood Across the Globe: Ana + Melissa
Ana’s Story – San Juan de Laguna, Guatemala
Ana grew up in a small village in Guatemala where good jobs were scarce. Most of her neighbors relied upon coffee farming to earn a living, but fluctuating coffee prices in the global market and unreliable crop yields made it difficult to earn a sustainable living. Growing up, Ana dreamed of finding a way to bring economic opportunity to her village. Her parents worked hard to send her to school, and this smart girl soon blossomed into a dreamer with a plan.
Ana saw how much the tourists who visited her village loved the intricately woven scarves the women of her village made. In response, she decided to launch an Artisan Business to turn this heirloom skill into a source of reliable income for her village. Since launching her business, Ana has faced many challenges, but she remains determined to make a difference for the women she partners with.
“What keeps me going is that every challenge is an opportunity to learn and try new things,” Ana says. “It is up to us to decide how we will grow and where we want to be in the future.” Ana’s adaptable attitude isn’t just talk – it translates directly into how she runs her business. When her weavers were struggling to maintain consistency in the color of their dyes, Ana began a test-and-repeat process to create consistent dye colors, eventually creating a color recipe book to solve the problem.
Today Ana’s business is thriving. She has seen reliable, dignified work come to her community, all because she decided to use her talents to create change. Thanks to consistent orders from fair trade buyers like Noonday, Ana is now pursuing an advanced degree in Business to help her grow her impact even more. Her Artisans create some of Noonday’s most beloved accessories – and her little village has become a dream destination for Noonday’s 1,000 Ambassadors here in the US.
Melissa’s Story – Yukon, Oklahoma
Melissa was one of the Ambassadors who had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala on an Artisan trip in the summer of 2015. Meeting Ana transformed her Ambassador business – but it was another trip that initially launched Melissa’s Noonday career.
“There was a time when I doubted if I had something to offer others,” Melissa says. “But after a mission trip to Ethiopia in 2013, my life changed forever. I witnessed profound poverty for the first time. After I returned home, I began to pray that God would use my gifts for others.”
Shortly after her experience in Ethiopia, Melissa attended a Noonday Trunk Show and listened as her local Ambassador shared about the purpose behind Noonday and the impact the community was making together. She loved the style of the accessories and was naturally drawn to helping other women style themselves in Noonday during the Trunk Show. When the Ambassador encouraged her to consider becoming an Ambassador herself, Melissa felt something click. “After my Ethiopia trip, I had asked God to use my talents in a meaningful way. The Ambassador Opportunity has been an answer to that prayer.”
When Melissa earned a trip to visit Noonday’s Guatemala Artisan Partners face to face, she jumped at the chance. On the trip, she got to connect with Ana and hear her story in person. Melissa was inspired as Ana shared about the challenges she had overcome in pursuit of her dream.
Courage + Connection
Since returning home, Melissa says the experience has empowered her to be a bold advocate for the Artisans who create Noonday’s pieces. “I want my two daughters to see me put my insecurities aside and use my gifts for good,” Melissa says. “I love telling them how Ana didn’t let her gifts go to waste. I know one day they too will have the courage to make a difference!”
Getting to connect with the Ambassadors who sell her scarves in the US has been transformative for Ana, too. “It is a unique and wonderful experience to be able to share the production process, our way of life, and how this work is helping us with the Ambassadors,” Ana says. “Knowing that we have these women as partners motivates us to dream bigger for ourselves and our families. And achieving those dreams is better when we do it together.”
Want to join us on an Ambassador trip next year? We’re looking for women who share our passion for building a flourishing world. Learn more about how you can become a Noonday Ambassador in your community!