Bostonista Loves: Charitable Bling

1218642370Ever since monsoon season descended upon our once-sunny stomping grounds, Bostonista’s been feeling a bit tropical. And what better way to treat this than with vibrant greens, bonita browns, and glowing golds?

When we first heard about Crafting Change we were intrigued, and not just because the accessories sold on the site are hand crafted by Brazilian artisans and flown stateside in a 25-year-old’s carry on, but because they’re inexpensive (and not just by our, uh, lenient standards).

B.U. grad Emily Varga, of Allston, officially launched the Web-based nonprofit in February of this year. After spending months in and around Rio on urban planning expeditions, Varga was introduced to several artists working for local artisan cooperatives.

“The first time I went down there, I was sitting next to this woman who started crying because she said there was no hope in her community,” Varga says of a cooperative based in Mare, a low-income community near Rio. “She was holding this jewelry that she made, and I was like, ‘You know what? People may not buy that here, but they will in the U.S.'”

It took a bit of convincing at first, but once she’d left, Varga had the support of other artisans. And with that, she started

The site sells accessories Varga bought with her own money on trips to Brazil. What’s more, Crafting Change is literally nonprofit. It actually costs Varga money to maintain her organization. In addition to paying for the jewelry, airfare, and hotel rooms with her waitressing tips, she even pays the site’s $40 monthly fee out of her own pocket. And the money from transactions? She uses it to buy soccer balls and start community after-school programs.

With the exception of a few handbags, nothing on the site is over $30. The accessories are green-friendly, wallet-friendly, and, to be honest, much different from what we’d expected after hearing “craft” and “jewelry” in the same sentence. Instead of hand-turkey pendants and construction-paper chain necklaces, you’ll find coral and acai necklaces, rose-petal handbags, lime green bangles, and, our favorite, an orange travel case made from plastic boardroom banners.

So while the rest of the city mourns the loss of summer weather, Bostonista’s getting all tribal up in this cubicle… and buying soccer balls for little Brazilian kids at the same time. Whoever said fashion was a superficial industry?