Your Name: Laurel Gunnarson

Business Name: The Didi Jewelry Project

Type of Business: Clothing & Accessories

Business Location: United States

U.S. State: California


Reason for starting
I started this business to help women facing hardship in India through selling their jewelry. I taught jewelry making to women who are working in brothels, HIV positive, widows, and/or facing extreme poverty. I am now selling their jewelry and sending the money back to India to help them generate an income and to give them a chance for change.

Biggest Success
For me the biggest success is seeing a sense of pride and accomplishment in the women I am working with. I went to India two years in a row, and seeing how proud the women have become is so amazing. Now they feel like they can do something to help themselves. Changing their way of thinking is our biggest success thus far.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My top challenge is finding my market. We currently sell online, in 8 stores, and at craft fairs and trade shows. I need to find more stores to carry our jewelry. I have been doing research to find stores that are likely to carry our jewelry and reaching out to anyone I can for help. Then I approach these stores.

Who is your most important role model?
I don’t have one specific role model. I look up to and admire women who work hard and are filled with love and compassion. My mother is a huge role model of mine. Many of the women I have met in India are my role models as well. The happiness, compassion, and work ethic these women have despite their hard lives is really inspiring to me.