While there's always a push to buy "American," there's a new store in downtown Naperville featuring handmade products from around the world that may not only make you look special on the outside, but can make you even more special on the inside.
Women at Risk is a nonprofit organization established to "place circles of protection around women at risk," creating safe places for women and children rescued from many abuses including human trafficking, sexual slavery, war, domestic violence, loss, disease and exploitation.
"When we were researching places to open our third boutique we looked at Naperville because we already had a large amount of constituents in the area," said Janelle Brown, marketing assistant, for Women at Risk. "Naperville also seemed like the type of city that would get behind our cause and support our organization."
The WAR Chest offers a variety of items including home decor, jewelry, apparel, scarves, ornaments and children's items. Everything sold at the boutique is made by disadvantaged women or those rescued from traffickers around the world, including Thailand, India, Nicaragua, Nepal, Kosovo, Kenya, Egypt, Uganda and Rwanda as well as the United States.
Unusual items you can find at the WAR Chest include:
- Uganda magazine jewelry: These colorful beads are made of strips of magazines, rolled around a needle and glued in place, then varnished.
- Hand-blown glass: The Middle East artisans who craft these ornaments, bottles and candle holders are paid per piece, averaging three times the minumum wage and working eight to 10 hours daily.
- Legacy cards: These hand-painted blank cards mimic the ancient Thai art of Benjarong. The paper is made from the stripped bark of mulberry trees (this actually rejuvenates the trees) and are painted from women rescued from the slums throughout Thailand.
- Threads of Hope: These colorful hand-made bracelets, anklets and bookmarks, made by Filipino women help provide a struggling family with a good source of income, education, nutrition and health care.
- Peruvian finger puppets: These brightly colored kids' favorite, are hand-knit by a group of women, many of them single women, in the Andes Mountains. The skill is handed down from generation to generation.
"Our opening weekend over Memorial Day went very well,'" Brown said. "Many people didn't know about our organization and had a very minimal understanding of the issues we address.
"In the days after the grand opening many people who came out the first weekend have come back with friends and family."