Charlotte Nonprofit Changes Lives Through Jewelry Making

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CHARLOTTE, NC — As the weather warms up, so does the art scene. Gallery tours and art festivals are popping up in communities across the state.

BraveWorks, a Charlotte-based nonprofit, celebrates art every day by showcasing and selling handmade works by local and international artisans. However, it goes further than that.

What do you want to know

  • BraveWorks is a Charlotte-based nonprofit that sells handmade works by local and international artisans
  • BraveWorks also teaches women skills in jewelry production and other crafts.
  • Creative women, called artisans, are referred by nonprofit community partners as they seek to overcome situations such as human trafficking, incarceration, and even ethnic persecution.
  • Jennifer Brown completed the jewelry making program two years ago and is now preparing to graduate from college

Products are more than just decorations. Their creation also helps to change lives.

“It is this abundant and useful life that we hope for each of our craftsmen. So they arrive and learn new skills and make beautiful items that we then sell to fund our mission. But, it’s so much more than that. They learn purpose and purposeful work, but also find purpose in life,” said Executive Director Beth Bell.

The organization does this through the art of jewelry making, using hundreds of beads to help hundreds of women, like Jennifer Brown, look their best.

From handmade skirts to jewelry and everything in between, Brown’s shopping options seem to be endless.

Meticulously going through each room in the store, she said, “There are so many things you take for granted in your day-to-day life.

She’s definitely a loyal customer, but not just because of those colorful pieces. She is drawn to each of the creators behind them.

“It’s empowerment. Like, people like me have done it all here, and that’s something we can be proud of,” Brown said.

When she says “we,” she’s talking about women who have taken the steps to come to BraveWorks and participate in its jewelry-making program.

It is an opportunity for them to overcome obstacles such as human trafficking, abuse, drug addiction or poverty and change their lives for the better.

“I spent a little over a year and a half making bracelets, necklaces,” Brown said.

She decided to change her life two years ago after a five-year stint in federal prison.

“I was a really good worker before my criminal lifestyle. I had won management promotions, awards, things like that. And then I got hooked, then I started dealing drugs Brown explained.

She destroyed her family and lost custody of her only child.

However, after joining the program following a friend’s recommendation, she quickly discovered that amidst all the stringing, wiring and beading, creating built characters.

“For most people, it’s just about making jewelry. It’s not a big deal. But it’s time management, accountability, accountability, earning honest salaries,” Brown said.

Brown is one of hundreds of women, or “craftsmen,” BraveWorks serves and has served since 2012, not just in Charlotte, but around the world.

Last year alone, he helped nearly 600 women around the world. Ninety-two of them were local. Almost all have achieved the life-changing goals they set for themselves.

Gloria Robinson works as the organization’s program director.

“The women come four hours a week. When they enter the program, we sit with them. We want to understand who they are. What do you want? So by working with them, we set goals,” Robinson said. “When the women arrive, they are often broken, not confident. When we see them leaving our program, they are brave.

Like many women, Brown continues her journey of transitioning from pain to progress.

The 41-year-old is now preparing to graduate from college and is aiming for law school.

With a stable job and working to restore a relationship with her daughter, she says she is proud of her accomplishments. She has also regained a newfound confidence and hopes to positively impact others in the same way jewelry making has impacted her.

“I learned that you have a bunch of parts that don’t really look like much, but you put them together and it makes something beautiful,” Brown said.

You can find all women’s products, locally and internationally made, for sale at BraveWorks.

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