Peace+Love+Bling is a small jewelry company in the Short North. Its physical footprint may be small– less than 600 square feet of space. But its outreach is expanding across the globe. Its mission: Benefit as many women as possible, both here at home and overseas.
Marketing Manager Sarah Ivancic explained to me that founder LeAnne Johnson Absalom was inspired to start the business while living in Beijing. She met a group of women who designed their own jewelry and sold the pieces on the street; they did this in order to support their families. LeAnne fell in love with the decorative designs, and wanted to create a long-term solution that would help these women succeed financially. Upon her return to the U.S. she founded Peace+Love+Bling in her attic, selling pieces made by the Beijing women. Today the company works with women from around the world, collecting materials to be used in unique jewelry pieces, like silk ribbons from India and beetle wings from Thailand.
Back here in central Ohio, Peace+Love+Bling is working to empower women through its Workforce Development Program. They teach women job skills and prepare them for full-time employment. Three times a week, workers come to the store and are trained how to make the jewelry. In addition, Ivancic says the employees are taught “how to run the inventory and how to ship out orders. We also teach other skills that they may have not had the opportunity to learn– like being prompt and on-time, and how to handle conflict.”
Peace+Love+Bling partners with the Godman Guild–an organization that works to lift people out of poverty by connecting them with job opportunities–to recruit women for the program. I asked Ivanicic why it was important to the founder that Peace+Love+Bling be more than just a jewelry store. She said the reason was simple: “This business has been built upon creating a community and having a social mission. If you can make a profit, why not have that profit also benefit other people? It just is, in our minds, the proper way to do business.”
The Workforce Development Program is run out of the storefront. Ivancic says a major benefit to having the program in the store is that it prompts a lot of conversations. People walking by often stop in when they notice the workers making the jewelry. Ivancic says anyone is welcome to come in, learn about the company’s mission, and make jewelry alongside them. “We want to be open and inviting and have this be not just a store, but a place for people to come and spend time.”