We now have a staff of five, including three amazing jewelers who (as of 2018) have been employed with us for eight, ten, and sixteen years. We encourage them to create their own designs and pay them royalties. Additionally, all of our jewelry is designed and made by hand— we don’t rely on computer modeling programs like CAD/CAM. It takes decades of experience, skill and practice to create the type of jewelry we do. Our jewelers, including Helen, have over seventy years of combined experience as makers.
There has been pressure (financial and otherwise) for RJ to become a commercial-production jewelry company— but Helen has always chosen the path of the artisan. She sees the value in a handmade craft that is rapidly fading into the background of today’s world, and risks being lost to time. There is something to be said for following one’s own path, even if it is not the best economic decision.
We are always striving to merge business practices with our strong concern for ecological and social justice. Helen has served on the executive committee of our local farmers’ market as the treasurer, and is very interested in supporting our northern New Mexico agricultural community. She also sings at hospices. As for myself, I’ve taken action against dirty gold and the blood diamond atrocities. I've been writing, speaking, campaigning and whining to anyone who will listen to me about issues surrounding the ethical sourcing of jewelry for years. I’ve served on several Santa Fe nonprofit boards, and both initiated and co-led Santa Fe's opposition to a proposed gold mine
My website, Fairjewelry.org
, was the first ethical jewelry blog online. In 2009, I used the site as the basis for co-founding Fair Jewelry Action
. Due to a need to focus on rebuilding my business, I have not been highly active on the site for some time. However, I’ve recently begun work on a number of new articles and projects. Look for them in the latter part of 2017, and through 2018.
Our company began using Fairtrade Gold in 2011. In April 2015, after eight years of trying to get fairtrade gold into North America, we became the first certified Fairtrade Gold jeweler in the US. As of spring of 2018, we are still the only ones due mainly to reasons we cannot control. Yet we continued to support the launch of Fairtrade Gold to US markets as FLOCert’s only commercial jeweler liaison, and have provided critical contacts in the jewelry trade that we hope will one day lay the groundwork for a robust fairtrade gold movement in North America.
Over time, our understanding of what it means to be a business has evolved. We started out just trying to make enough money to survive. We created a strong company— then nearly lost everything, and had to start over. I like to tell people I got my MBA in Haiti
, because that is where I first experienced indescribable poverty. Haiti is where I came to the realization that whatever I ended up doing with my life, I had to try to change the economic inequality that plagues the world. I view Reflective Jewelry as a purpose-driven business of makers and designers catalyzing global change.
We have an opportunity with massive, world-changing potential— just think of the first Fairtrade coffee or chocolate company to appear in the US 30-40 years ago, and how prevalent these companies are today. That's us for jewelry. That’s the kind of change we want to initiate.
When the US consumer market adopts Fairtrade gold, hundreds of thousands (or possibly even millions
of small-scale miners will find their lives improved. When
this happens, we’ll be able to point to our small studio on Baca Street as one of the catalysts. And Helen and I will be able to tell stories about a young couple not afraid to take a few risks for something they believed in.
(By the way, we still live in the same adobe we renovated together with chickens and turkeys, a dog, and a cat
— the lattermost of whom happens to be an excellent mouse hunter! Our home has become a permaculture oasis in our barrio neighborhood.)