Success is continuing to live in obedience to what God is calling me to do regardless of success or the lack thereof.
Start by telling us a little bit about HUGG Mission Market + your role?

I founded HUGG five years ago after learning the stories of 8 young men who had aged out of orphan care in Haiti. These young men were working hard to make street bracelets to sell to visiting Americans. Although the bracelets were simple macrame, I saw potential in their work and in them. That's when we started to develop the Jesus&jobs model as a tool to help achieve orphan prevention in Haiti. My role really has evolved from Executive Director, overseeing programming to more of a CEO/Founder Role--trying to use commerce as a catalyst towards social change. I'm proud to say that our program is 100% run by Haitians.

How did HUGG get started?

It was birthed shortly after my husband's mission trip to visit our now partner orphanage, Grangou. He bought up all the bracelets he could from 8 young men. Watch the video

Why is this cause important to you?

I always say my husband and I were destined to care for the fatherless. He came from a family where 3 of his 5 siblings were adopted and I grew up with an abusive father. I grew up wondering how my childhood could had been different had someone stepped in and fought for my brother and I. It wasn't until I was 19 years old, that a pastor from an inner-city church heard and cared about my story. I was hired a year later and learned the beauty of healing though service. That pastor ended up becoming my father-n-law but really--he became my dad. He taught me what it looks like to reach deep into the margins to walk alongside people. To me, HUGG was a very clear way to walk alongside young orphaned men in Haiti.

What is the best way people can engage with your mission?

Purchase our product!

Do you have a favorite product?

Yes, I am in love with our macrame table runners and coasters. We are in the process of designing a new look for our jewelry that will not launch until Fall 2020. Until then....I'm claiming all the HOME Goods Line as my favorites!

What does your partnership with New Creation mean to HUGG?

We cling to the tag line that Fashion Fuels Change because we 100% believe that you can use your purchasing power to make a difference in the lives of makers like the young men with whom we work. If it weren't for retailers like New Creation--we wouldn't have a big enough platform nor a loud enough voice to inspire shoppers to use their purchasing power for good. You guys are on the front lines helping spread these life-giving stories. Every one of your wholesale purchases encourages us to keep pouring into the people God sent us to serve.

Is there a particular quote or story from one of your artisans that has stuck with you?

YES!!!! There are several but the one that hit me in the gut the hardest was that of Marcial. He is shy and meek but is one of HUGG's most talented artisans. One evening, I took several of the artisans out to dinner and asked them how HUGG had changed their lives. Marcial quietly answered, "All my life, people have seen the palms of my hands. For the first time ever, I get to show the back of my hands."

What Marcial meant was that he was always defined as a beggar. As a 7-year-old boy living on the streets of Port-au-Prince, he was forced to beg for food. Then as a boy living in an orphanage, he relied 100% of the kindness of people. As an artisan at HUGG, he now has a chance to be a giver in his community. HUGG has redefined who he is in his community and that has made all the difference.

What keeps you moving forward on the days you want to give up?

This is a tough one for me and the answer has changed significantly the deeper I get into this work. Ultimately, I have to know that God called me into this work and that has very little to do with the results of this work. In other words, success is continuing to live in obedience to what God is calling me to do regardless of success or the lack thereof. One day, this work that He has started in all of us will be finished--regardless of whether we achieved worldly success. I've learned to keep my eyes on Jesus because if I don't, the heartache of Haiti and the hopelessness there will take over. I 100% believe that Jesus and jobs in Haiti will prevent children from stepping into the river of orphanhood. I believe and day at a time.

Follow HUGG on InstagramFacebook or checkout their blog with some great Fair Trade tips for the kitchen.

We love partnering with HUGG Mission Market! We just recently received a new order + they are now on the floor! Come into our shoppes to see these beauties.

Shannon Blosser

Office + Event Coordinator

Doing a little bit of everything.