The Inside Scoop: Becoming a Noonday Ambassador

To celebrate my four year anniversary with Noonday Collection as a Noonday Ambassador, I thought I would share what it has been like being an Ambassador and why I've loved it and I'll start with introducing myself for any new faces around here.

I’m Brooke, wife to Aaron and a St. Louis transplant from Virginia Beach, Virginia — we moved here so Aaron could attend grad school and earn his Ph.D in Research Psychology. It’s been an adventure growing together in a city that is new to both of us! I work full time at Washington University in St. Louis for Olin Business School, but after work or on the weekends, you can find me partnering with women in St. Louis, sharing Noonday Collection with their communities, or cuddling with our labradoodle, Rosie.

Before sharing more about my journey with Noonday Collection, however, I should probably begin by explaining what it is for those who haven’t heard about the company before. Noonday Collection is a socially responsibly business that uses fashion and enterprise to create meaningful employment opportunities for people around the world. All of our pieces are handmade by 29 artisan business partners from 12 countries who earn a fair wage for their work.

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I’ve always loved jewelry. My first “real” job outside of cleaning my dad’s business growing up was at a local silver jewelry store called Hi Ho Silver. I loved helping my customers find that perfect piece for their friends or family and I especially loved the relationships we got to make with our repeat customers who soon turned into friends. Even though that job was only for a summer, it clearly left a mark on me as I embarked on my journey to be a Noonday Ambassador seven years later.

Noonday Collection first caught my eye at a local fundraising event at my church. There was a table set up with Noonday samples and lookbooks for us to browse the whole collection. I was immediately drawn to the creative ways the paper bead necklaces were made. I also owned multi-colored papered necklaces, but I had never seen them styled in the way Noonday was designing them: Solid color beads, some with gold accents, was a totally new way of designing artisan-made jewelry. I was hooked from the design aspect alone, but then I found out how it was made, how it was fair-trade and ethically made, and how it was helping break the cycle of poverty — and I knew I was done for.

I hosted my first Noonday trunk show a month later and had a blast. I gathered girls from my community group who I had just started getting to know and we had our very own grownup dress-up party, complimenting each other and changing the world right from my first little apartment in St. Louis, MO.

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A month after my first trunk show — and two months after the initial fundraiser at my church — my heart and mind wouldn’t stop thinking about the impact Noonday Collection was having on the world and how I could be apart of it: By purchasing Noonday for myself and for gifts, hosting a trunk show, or — best of all — becoming an Ambassador myself to share Noonday with anyone and everyone who would listen!

The first two options were simple. I love to shop, so purchasing Noonday was easy. I also love having people over and earning free jewelry, so continuing to host trunk shows was another no-brainer. But, becoming an Ambassador in a city I had just moved to eight months earlier? Now that was something I would need to think about.

Still new in St. Louis, I didn’t have the security of close friends and family to support me and show up at my launch party or host my first trunk show. What if no one showed up? What if I didn’t meet anyone to share Noonday with? I knew it would be a huge risk to begin selling this world-changing jewelry in a place where I was still building my new community — especially because I’ve always loved staying behind the scenes. Becoming an ambassador for Noonday would not only require me to push outside my comfort zone, but I would also need to find the courage to be vocal about the jewelry and share the vision and heart behind the beautiful jewelry I was wearing.

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After wrestling with my decision for weeks, I finally said “yes” to my new role as a Noonday Collection Ambassador and I can honestly say that my life has been changed forever for the better — and it is all because of one thing:

The incredible community of artisans that Noonday partners with around the world.

Over the past several years, two of my biggest highlights as a Noonday Ambassador have been the two opportunities I have had to travel to Guatemala and Peru and to meet our artisan partners who make our gorgeous jewelry in person. On both of those trips, I have seen with my own eyes and felt with my own heart the impact we can have when we decide to shop fair-trade with our money. Noonday also partners with leaders in the communities we work in, so we are empowering local leaders across the world to create change and help their artisans and employees break out of the cycle of poverty.

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To Americans, it’s a no-brainer that we earn at least minimum wage at our jobs, if not more, but in workshops and factories around the world, this is sadly an exception. Fair trade means Noonday artisan partners are paid minimum wage or higher, on time, every two weeks, and that they are only working 40 hours a week. This is a game changer in helping to alleviate poverty. Poverty often means living day to day, and doesn’t allow anyone to think about the future because they don’t even know if they will have money for their children the following day. Earning minimum wage or higher allows parents to dream about their future, save money for a house, and pay their medical bills.

The knowledge of Noonday’s impact never fails to give me fresh energy and encouragement. In the moments when I might feel tired of loading my Noonday Collection samples into the car one more time or asking again and again if someone in my community in St. Louis will host a Noonday trunk show, I simply think about meeting Ana in Guatemala and José in Peru, who are running incredible businesses in their communities. And I think about how lives are being changed by business — and by things as seemingly simple as earrings, necklaces and accessories.

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Being part of Noonday Collection has done more than help me be more connected to my local community in St. Louis — it has opened my mind, widened my worldview, and given me a passion for making every purchase count. Every sale matters — no matter how big or small — and they all help towards making positive changes around the world. So when you wear fair-trade jewelry in the future, you should always smile, knowing you are helping to end poverty right where you are.

If you would like to support myself & Noonday Collection, you can purchase through my Ambassador page here. Thank you for supporting fair trade & artisan made goods!

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36 hours in Vancouver

This summer, Aaron and I had 36 hours in Vancouver before we boarded our cruise to Alaska. I had never been to Vancouver before, and as you will see in the pictures that follow, I was not going to let this opportunity pass me by without making the most of it.

To maximize our time, we spent most of our 36 hours in Gastown, as we stayed a short 10-minute walk away, but we also made it to Granville Island and the Capilano Suspension Bridge which was so worth it. I don't regret any of it. I highly recommend a visit to Vancouver as it was one of those rare cities that offers both amazing food and culture and time outside exploring. 

Day 1

Tacofino - Gastown

I've had some good tacos in my time (that sounds hilarious coming from a 27-year-old) but Tacofino takes the cake. I also loved how there was a quick service option on one side and then a sit down option on the other side. The creativity was overflowing in this space. I love it when a restaurant wins at quality of food and aesthetics. 

Nelson the Seagull

Keeping up the theme of quality of food and aesthetics, let me introduce you to the most adorable coffeeshop you've ever seen. Meet Nelson the Seagull. Not only was it a beautifully designed space that welcomed you with a big bear hug when you entered, it serves the most incredible avocado toast. Served on their handmade bread, no other avocado toast stands a chance. It's a must when you visit.

And the best part? Tacofino and Nelson the Seagull are a two-minute walk from each other. It's a recipe for a beautiful day!

Frank + Oak

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If you need a break from eating your way through Gastown, you're in luck. Frank + Oak is just across the street from Tacofino. You can read why I love Frank + Oak here.

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Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

After lunch, we went back to the hotel to catch a quick catnap. I’ll admit, it was really hard to get up again but we rallied. We then got on the free Capilano Shuttle and enjoyed a gorgeous 30-minute bus ride from the city out to North Vancouver to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. It was such a unique experience and we were really glad we rallied and got out of the city to experience this gorgeous part of Vancouver.

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Granville Island

Granville Island was a must see for me as it's gorgeous but also because it's goal is the be a zero waste island. How cool is that?! Granville Island is a peninsula and shopping district that is located across False Creek from Downtown Vancouver. We ate at The Sandbar and it was such a fun experience as it is located under the bridge of Granville Island.

Day 2

Aaron was a bit worn out from our day before (he was the real MVP putting up with my itinerary) so I had a morning to myself, exploring parts of Gastown I hadn't had the chance to see the day before. Coffeeshops are my happy place and make me feel like a local, so I always try to make it to a few local coffeeshops. The final two I got to see in Gastown were Buro Coffee and Timbertrain Coffee.

They both had such friendly staff, beautiful environments where I could have stayed for hours, and excellent coffee — which is what we’re all after at a coffeeshop, right? ;)

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Alley Oop

The last stop on my way back to the hotel before we boarded for our cruise was the incredible Alley Oop. I'm a huge fan of redesigning normal spaces and giving them new purpose and gosh, Alley Oop was no exception. They painted an alleyway and made it into a basketball court, making the alleyway a space for the community to gather. I don't play basketball, but I still soaked up the creativity in this space and was inspired by its theme of #beawesomenow.

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As I made my way back to the hotel, I couldn't help be grateful for our 36 hours in Vancouver. It was short but incredibly inspiring and fun to explore a new place all while making the most of our time there.

There are trips where I choose to rest after arriving to our destination, but with such a tight timeline in Vancouver, I decided sleep would come after we boarded the cruise. I still don't regret taking the time to see just a bit more of the city. If you can go, I highly recommend it and I would love to hear what your favorite parts of Vancouver are!

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