We’re creating a community of lifting up other women. Opportunity is meant to be shared.
Jessica Honegger, founder, Noonday Collection
When I received the invitation to a Noonday Collection trunk show from a friend, I may have groaned a little. Oh no, not another shopping excursion disguised as a party, I thought. But I went anyway, because I wanted to see my friend, and I figured my willpower was strong enough to escape without buying anything.
I showed up, ate all of the little quiches and grapes I could get my hands on, since I hadn’t had dinner yet, and sat down to wait for the spiel. I idly picked up the pieces of jewelry on the table in front of me, not wishing to get too attached to anything. A red bracelet called to me from the other side of the table, and I tried to ignore it.
The ambassador stood in front of the room full of women and started talking in a quiet, but convincing tone that made me sit up in my seat and pay attention. She began to tell Noonday’s tale, and I was entranced. And inspired. And I opened my wallet out of love for the cause. (Now I wear my red tagua bracelet nearly every day.)
Austin-based Noonday Collection was started by Jessica Honegger as a way for her to raise money for the adoption of her son, Jack, from Rwanda. What began as a personal mission for Jessica quickly grew, and she joined forces with her friend Travis Wilson, who shared her vision and understanding of resource-poor areas of the world that needed their help. Jessica brought Jack home in October 2011, thanks to sales from Noonday, and the company has taken off like a rocket.
Jessica spent many years in Africa, starting at age 15, and she discovered the impact that poverty can have when it’s experienced face to face. From this knowledge, she has created a network of artisans and ambassadors and managers from countries around the world – Uganda, Vietnam, Peru, India, and many others – and together, they create gorgeous pieces of jewelry, bags, scarves, and other accessories. Every country has its own style and backstory; in Ethiopia, for example, beads are created from reclaimed ammunition and artillery from the war-torn area.
If you were to visit the Noonday Collection offices in central Austin, you’d see a shop bursting at the seams with both products and an intangible hum that drives each employee. There is a spirit that comes from creating a community that was created to support others. Jessica’s designers are paid almost 100% in advance, and about 80% of the employees are mothers.
“I don’t like to use the word ‘help’, because it implies a position of power,” Jessica said. “Our desire is to work with people with potential and allow them to work in a dignified trade. We are all in this together.”
Austin is fortunate to have companies like The Open Arms Shop and Noonday Collection to remind us that beauty can be found in the most unlikely places.
Purchases can be made via the website or trunk shows around the country.