Before starting Love Travels. Imports, a company that sells home goods, accessories and more made by artisans across the globe, Yvette Jenkins worked in business development and marketing for government and corporate entities. The Great Recession changed that — she lost her six-figure job in December 2009. But she bounced back by marketing and selling handcrafted handbags, pillows and other goods sourced from women abroad, including a special group of South African women.
Jenkins first sold products independently and under the umbrella of her consultancy, YMJ Consulting Group. Then in 2013, she formalized the effort by launching Love Travels. Imports with the South African group, Mielie. These days, she is growing her product lines by partnering with Haitian hand-embroiderers and Peruvian artisans who make eco-friendly hats, gloves and other items. She also aims to create jobs in her own city of Detroit someday. “It’s something we’ve done for artisans in various places — I want to be able to do something” at home, she says.
While growing the store, Jenkins has had numerous opportunities to meet new people and see new places by way of traveling to find new partners and products. She fondly recalled a bike ride through a gorgeous landscape in Peru earlier this year, adding that “to be able to have that experience, to see the beauty of the place, was definitely a wonderful perk.” She continued, “Interacting with people in other places and cultures is the best thing about what I’ve done.”
(Photo of Yvette Jenkins by Michelle & Chris Gerard.)