Originally Published: December 12, 2015 6 a.m.
Prescott native Emily Acklin Betzler spearheads Bought Beautifully, a nonprofit global marketplace for ethically sourced products. Whether they sell jewelry, clothing, art, paper goods, beauty products or home décor, the 33 companies Bought Beautifully brings together share one common thread.
"You have to be using your business to share God's love," said Betzler, a 2001 graduate of Prescott High School who now lives in Sheridan, Wyoming.
The organization's website, boughtbeautifully.org, explains:
"We felt God urging us to honor Him through our everyday consumer choices. ... What exactly did that mean? It meant that our reasons for purchasing something needed to be deeper than: it was on sale, cute, or trendy. ... We realized that if we paid attention, were strategic and purposeful with our purchases, we could use our finances and everyday choices to have a positive impact on the world for Him! We soon realized that our everyday choices could be holy and beautiful, glorifying to God and play a role in furthering his kingdom."
All in one place, shoppers can find products created by companies doing business in an ethical way - paying fair wages, providing a safe, positive and encouraging work environment and not using child or slave labor during production, Betzler said.
A company in India rescues girls from prostitution and teaches them to create jewelry; another in Kenya teaches deaf women sign language and jewelry-making, she said. Haitian companies promote that country's economic development and a journal-maker's proceeds fill a scholarship fund in Kosovo.
Bought Beautifully's overarching mission is to inspire interactions that enrich lives, restore hope and empower people.
Seeing things you were going to buy anyway as a way help others is the most exciting part, Betzler said: "We can use everyday actions and everyday purposes to have impact."
Bought Beautifully is primarily an online marketplace, but there are physical "pop-up" markets, especially around the holidays.
"We find people love to touch the products," Betzler said.
On Saturday, Bought Beautifully will come to Prescott. The group's A Giving Market will be set up from 2 to 6 p.m. at 5ive, A Vintage Market, 514 E. Sheldon St. in Prescott.
"We're excited to come home," she said. The organization was launched last year and set up a Prescott market then.
Among the items that will be available are unique jewelry and accessories, journals, stationery and paper goods, baskets, clothing, ties for men and pillows.
Most products fall in the $15 to $35 range.
That puts to rest the misconception that shopping ethically is too expensive, Betzler said.
"It's pretty affordable," she said, comparing the prices to those found at Target.
She said she and her husband always thought they would live and work abroad. Nine years ago, circumstances brought them back to the states. They both began working two jobs - and it took a trip to Africa, to visit her brother-in-law in the Peace Corps, to remind them of their desire to be more engaged internationally.
"Our heart was still longing to be engaged with the world," she said.
As they began trying to spend money more strategically, giving gifts that supported their Christian beliefs, they often thought they wished someone would put the products together in one place.
"We decided to take the leap of faith and try it," Betzler said.
Betzler's mother, Julie Acklin, isn't surprised that her daughter has dedicated her life to helping others. In kindergarten, when she did a project on "my wish," her wish was to build a big house for the homeless. (Her father is a contractor.) When they went on vacation, her daughter gave food to people on the street. More recently, in school, she anonymously left pots of flowers for the folks who cleaned the locker rooms and dorm bathrooms. And she volunteered with Yavapai Exceptional Industries and Habitat for Humanity.
"She's always done a lot of volunteering. That's definitely who she is," Acklin said. "She's a lovely, lovely person. She's so full of goodness."
Acklin and Betzler's three sisters are supporters of Bought Beautifully.
"As a family we definitely are behind her and do whatever we can," Acklin said, explaining that she brainstorms with her daughter and helps her prepare for events.
She added that it should be a big year: "A lot of people do want to just make their purchases make a difference."
Follow Arlene Hittle on Twitter @ahittle_dc. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2036, or 928-830-2928.