We couldn't be more excited to announce our first Guest Editors for Established California! Meet the ladies behind 31 Bits, a company that uses fashion and design to empower people to rise above poverty.
When we first started chatting with the ladies of 31 Bits, we instantly fell in love with these four unique, fiesty and beautiful women. Co-Founders (Kallie Dovel, Alli Swanson, Jessie Simonson and Anna Toy) are raising awareness in the consumer market to do something GOOD in the world. 31 Bits is a collection of Ugandan-made jewelry and accessories - all made with beads from recycled paper (yes, paper)! Every purchase made from 31 Bits has a direct impact on women's lives in Uganda because everything they do is funded from product sales. (We can get behind that!).
So this month, we'll be diving in deeper with these remarkable women to give you a closer look at not only the work that they do, but also who they are as individuals. Here's what the ladies of 31 Bits have to say...
Dear Est. California Readers,
We’re the girls from 31 Bits and we’re thrilled to give you a glimpse into our world throughout the month of October! We’re not your likely business entrepreneurs. We prefer cut off shorts and happy hours. Sometimes we dye our hair pink and purple and sometimes we take a dip in the ocean during our lunch break. We love throwing parties, riding bikes, eating frozen yogurt, and traveling.
We’ve become besties since starting 31 Bits. We’re always asked how we’ve managed to own a business together and still stay friends, but to be honest, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re all totally different from each other, sort of a misfit group of dreamers, socialites, and artists. But the common thread that holds us together is our desire to empower women in Uganda. We don’t let differences get in the way. Instead, we use them to make each other better because 31 Bits has become much bigger than we are.
We started 31 Bits in 2008, during our senior year at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA. We were carefree 21-year-olds, living for the moment and not ready to enter corporate America. So we didn’t! During a life-changing trip to Uganda, we met women who grew up in a time of war and had nothing. Some were single moms, some had never been to school before, and many of them were our age! The women were making incredible jewelry out of recycled paper, but had no way to sell it. The more time we spent with them, the more we knew we had to do something. We didn’t know the first thing about starting a business, but it didn’t matter. We committed ourselves to learning everything we could about international business, the jewelry industry, and development work. Six years ago, we were employing six women in Uganda. Thanks to an amazing team and amazing customers, we now have 170 women in our program who are rising above poverty through employment and education.
The last six years was filled with both challenges and successes, both tears and laughter…but outweighing it all is the endless joy we’ve gained through watching women’s lives in Uganda change. Our motto at 31 Bits is “Work hard. Play hard.”…and we’re going to show you how to do just that the California way. Stay tuned because every Friday in October, the four of us will be sharing some of our fave tunes, products, places, and eats around Orange County. Talk to you soon!