Siouxland business changes the lives of women through handmade j - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Siouxland business changes the lives of women through handmade jewelry

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Vi Bella Jewelry provides jobs for women in Haiti, Mexico and the U.S. Vi Bella Jewelry provides jobs for women in Haiti, Mexico and the U.S.

There are big ideas coming out of Vi Bella's small office space in Sioux Center, Iowa.

"Vi Bella means beautiful life and the goal for our company is just to provide women jobs and help them to live the beautiful life they are intended to live,"says Julie Hulstein, the founder and president of Vi Bella Jewelry.

That's Hulstein's mission. She started the jewelry company two years ago after a mission trip to Haiti. That trip changed her life forever when she met a 17-year-old woman named Sentsia.

"She shared with us that she was living a life that she did not want to live, but she had no other options or choices," says Hulstein.

Sentsia was living as a prostitute to get food and water for herself and younger siblings.

"That just brings tears right away," says Hulstein.

Hulstein says she felt she had to do something to help.

"All I could think about when we left was 'how could you leave your daughter in that kind of place and in that situation with no hope?' so I went home and I just prayed a lot about jobs for people in Haiti because there was lots of Sentsia's in Haiti," says Hulstein.

The answer to her prayers came five months later.

"Vi Bella was born just out of my desire to provide a different life for people, to make a company that just provided jobs just by making jewelry," says Hulstein.

Vi Bella employs 30 women in two villages in Haiti, seven women in Mexico, and 17 in Sioux Center. In Sioux Center, the women design the pieces, gather supplies, and send them down Haiti and Mexico. There, the women put together the bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. They even make many of the beads themselves out of recycled materials, turning something ugly into something beautiful, a theme Hulstein uses in her business and faith.

"Taking garbage and making something beautiful like jewelry out of it is exactly what Christ does for our lives," says Hulstein. He can take something so ugly and redeem it and make something beautiful beyond our wildest dreams."

The women in Haiti and Mexico earn a paycheck and a daily meal. Vi Bella also pays for their kids to go to school.

"It really truly is making a difference,"says Kayla Grooters, a manager at one of Vi Bella's Haitian centers. "I see it everyday."

Kayla Grooters manages one of the Haitian centers.

"They can feed their kids, their kids aren't hungry, and their kids are in school," says Grooters. "That burden is all taken away because of this job."

"They are starting to see purpose in themselves and that they have value and I think that everybody needs that, whether you are in Haiti or here, it doesn't make a difference," says Glenda Vermeer, the website specialist with Vi Bella.

It's the faith they put in each piece of jewelry and in each other that makes the difference.

"We are taking women in Haiti and in Mexico and we are helping them come to a full life not only physically, but spiritually, mentally, and emotionally as well," says Vicki Altena, the home sales consultant recruiter for Vi Bella.

And it's all about women helping women to change lives.

"We are all pushing for the same thing and we are all striving for the same goal, which is to provide as many jobs and impact as many families as we can," says Liza Diede, Vi Bella's retail specialist.

"For me, I think it gives me a sense of pride knowing that I'm helping my girls down there," says Terri Mouw, a jewelry maker for Vi Bella.

And as they outgrown their small office space, they're looking for how they grow and expand to help more women in the future.

Vi Bella has also partnered with orphanages in Haiti. They are teaching young girls life skills through sewing. The girls earn money while learning a trade they can continue.

Vi Bella's handmade jewelry is sold at boutiques, online, and through home consultants.

For more information on Vi Bella, go to their website at www.vibellajewelry.com.

 

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