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Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder?

Oct 16, 2019

Studies show that 98% of domestic violence victims also experience financial abuse and stay in abusive relationships due to financial insecurity. Today’s guest is Joy McBrien and her ethical jewelry brand Fair Anita creates financial opportunities for women around the world. Their artisans partners carefully design and create every product by hand, and Fair Anita also gives them the resources for economic self-sufficiency. Along with that, Fair Anita also maintains strong ethical standards in the production chain, working conditions, living wages, and full transparency of business practices. Join me as I speak with Joy about the journey of Fair Anita, and the life-changing mission to help women feel safe, valued, and respected, no matter where they live.


3:58 - The Joy 101


  • Joy started Fair Anita when she was just 24-years-old to help combat the issues with sexual violence that she’d experienced in her own life. After a lot of research, it became clear to her that financial insecurity is the main reason women stay in abusive partnerships.
  • She also knew early on that she wanted her organization to help tackle the problems that can be found in consumerism and the exploitation of women in consumer supply chains.
  • Starting her first jewelry company at age 15 gave Joy a knowledge of jewelry design that helped her connect to artisans and the ways they incorporate their own culture into designs.
  • While living in Peru, Joy witnessed horrible factory conditions and became passionate about knowing where her purchases came from and the working conditions of the people making those products.
  • Joy knew there were already many big names in the fair trade world but realized an opportunity to make fair trade products that were more personalized, accessible, and affordable.


8:55 - Developing Fair Anita


  • As she traveled the world, Joy built a network of women doing incredible work and reached back out to them when she started Fair Anita. They worked together to incorporate artisan’s traditional skills into updated designs for US markets. 
  • Joy was very intentional to make sure Fair Anita offered fair trade goods with accessible price points. She believes ethical fashion is only truly ethical if it is affordable and accessible to more than one subset of people. 
  • Fair Anita artisans are still paid two to three times the living wage where they’re located. Volume of sales rather than higher-priced items makes this possible.
  • The demand is being driven by Millennials and recent a Forbes article shows that 73% of Millennials are likely to purchase a mission-based product if they’re given a comparable alternative in price and design.
  • Brands will have to adapt to this demand and start focusing more of their supply chains on ethical practices. This helps create a fair trade market that is accessible to average consumers as well.
  • Smaller brands also get a chance to shine and push the market to meet higher fair trade standards.


17:20 - Sustainable Options and Ethical Storytelling


  • Moving forward, Fair Anita wants to continue helping larger organizations improve by creating sustainable options for their customers.
  • Joy will also be turning her focus to international women’s rights and bringing suppliers back into direct conversations about supply chains.
  • One of the biggest parts of Fair Anita’s mission is making sure artisans give consent for their stories to be shared. Artisans should be the ones deciding whether or not to share about their lives, which also means managing consumer’s expectations to hear them.
  • When people do decide to share their story, it’s important to create safe spaces where they can share rather than have other people repeating their stories.   


32:37 - Getting To Know Our Guest


  • Find out who Joy would most like to sit next to on a 10-hour flight, her guilty pleasure, what books she’s reading, and of course, what it means to run a business with purpose.


Joy McBrien is a global learner who is passionate about creating opportunities for women and girls. She is the Founder and CEO of Fair Anita, a social enterprise that strives to build a more inclusive economy for women by providing economic opportunity and dignified jobs through beautiful fair trade jewelry and accessories. She has worked with thousands of women around the world, using her empathetic nature to understand circumstances and develop creative solutions, including having built a battered women’s shelter in Peru and working at a girl-focused middle school in St. Paul. Joy has been recognized for her leadership in this space, giving a TEDx talk and receiving awards including: Top Ten Outstanding Young Minnesotans 2015, Open Hands Initiative Fellow 2016, Minnesota Business Magazine’s 35 Entrepreneurs Under 35, CauseArtist's 35 Entrepreneurs to Watch, and the Real Power 50 Award. Joy is a member of the Global Shapers Community, and has spoken on women's issues at various events with the World Economic Forum, including the Annual Meeting of New Champions (aka Summer Davos) and the Sustainable Development Impact Summit. Beyond acting on her passions for women's rights and ethical supply chains, Joy spends much of her time traveling, working with young people, and performing as a professional dancer.  

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