The Power of Partnership: Celebrating 5 Years in Uganda
As Noonday reaches the five year mark, Founder Jessica Honegger reflects on the business’ beginnings and on the transformative power of long-term partnership.
This month, Noonday Collection is celebrating five years of style made with love! Five years ago, I had begun to pursue a dream I had been nurturing for years – a dream of using my love for fashion to create dignified jobs that would alleviate poverty around the world. It’s a dream that has grown to include 4,000 Artisans in 12 countries, nearly 1,000 Noonday Ambassadors across the U.S., and countless customers and Hostesses who have helped build a marketplace in their communities.
I’m so thankful for everyone who has said “yes” to joining me on this crazy journey. I’m especially thankful to the courageous people whose partnership started it all: Jalia and Daniel. When I first met this talented couple in Uganda, they were dreaming about starting a jewelry making business to create jobs for people in their community. But even as they dreamed of helping others, they themselves were struggling under the burden of poverty. Their children were not in school and they didn’t know if they would have food from day to day.
Today, their world looks so different – and so does mine. I began purchasing their jewelry and selling it to people in my community as a way to raise money for my family’s adoption from Rwanda. Jalia and Daniel told me later they were always waiting for the orders to stop – they didn’t dare get their hopes up.
But it was clear to me that my story and theirs were inextricably linked. We were woven together as business partners and as friends. I traveled to Uganda to meet Jalia and Daniel face to face for the first time, and told them, “We are partners. We are in this together.”
Today our partnership has started a ripple effect that just continues to spread. Over the past five years, Jalia and Daniel have become savvy business-owners and leaders who are effectively using their passion to create meaningful change. When we placed our first order, they were able to hire their first 10 Artisans to create our pieces. Today, they employ 100 Artisans in their workshop and have trained 500 people in the community to work as bead rollers.
To impact more people in need, Jalia and Daniel have promoted some of their best workers to leadership positions and entrusted these leaders with finding people in the community who need work. This team of leaders is responsible for training bead rollers and investing in their development. For many of these supervisors, it is not only the first time they have had jobs, but it is also the first time they have been told that they have what it takes to be leaders. This year alone, Jalia and Daniel’s team have recruited and trained over 200 people in the community to work as bead rollers.
When I met Jalia and Daniel five years ago, I saw the struggle they had endured for the sake of their children. As they began to grow their business in partnership with Noonday, they were determined to make their business a place where families were strengthened – and children were cherished. Many women in their community were single mothers who had to make the difficult choice to either leave their young children alone or with neighbors while they worked, or to stay with them and forfeit a needed income.
Jalia and Daniel had long been dreaming of opening a daycare center where their employees could take their children while they worked. With financial assistance from Noonday, Jalia and Daniel saw their dream come to life in the spring of 2015 and opened up a brand new daycare facility! Today, all their employees receive free, high-quality daycare. Their children have a safe place to learn and grow, and each one is truly cherished!
I could write a million words about the amazing things that are happening in Jalia and Daniel’s community because of the work we are doing together. Because they were confident that Noonday was in this for the long haul, Jalia and Daniel were able to believe in a better future. Once, they strived to simply make it through each day. But today, they have the confidence to dream again. At our annual Ambassador conference this January, Jalia shared with our team, “Before partnering with Noonday, my only wish was that I would not leave my children as orphans. But now, I have big dreams. I dream of giving good jobs to all the unemployed people in Uganda!”
The power of partnership can be seen so clearly in the story of Noonday’s founding. Knowing that Jalia and Daniel were counting on me to get out there and sell their amazing creations inspired me to dream big too. Their trust in our partnership has kept me going time and time again. The beauty of this story is that it’s not just mine. It’s ours. And as it has unfolded it has proven time and time again that we really are better together than we are alone.
Meet Jessica Honegger
Jessica is Noonday Collection’s Founder and Chief Dreamer. Jessica spends her days inspiring others to live lives of purpose—from empowering our Ambassadors to be powerful storytellers and stylists, to visiting and encouraging our Artisans partners across the globe. After hours, Jessica can be found relaxing with her husband, dancing with her three children, and enjoying a good book.