The Village Experience
As Anne and Kelly Campbell can tell you, it's impossible to witness civil crisis in Kenya, spend time with people with mental disabilities in India, or watch women beg for food in the streets of Ethiopia and not feel compelled to take action. The sisters have gone from working for some of the top names in fashion—including BCBGMaxAzria and Tommy Hilfiger—to cofounding The Village Experience in 2008, a company inspired by its global journeys and dedicated to providing socially responsible travel and fair-trade goods. The business's accolades have since piled up: it won the Best Women's Accessories category of TheIndyChannel.com's A-List in 2010 and 2009. Additionally, Kelly was named one of Indiana’s 2011 Forty Under 40 by the Indianapolis Business Journal. The Village Experience was also asked to partake in the Emmy's The Red Carpet Luxury Lounge, where Emmy nominees, celebrities, and media peruse and try different products and retail items, with their jewelry also included in the Lounge's gift bags.
But the sisters' rewards do not come from high praise or recognition. Rather, the duo finds satisfaction in helping underserved communities build self-sustainability and making a difference in people's lives. In a 2009 feature, Rachel Meacham of Nuvo quoted a portion of Kelly's 2006 travel journal, which explains the impression left by an ailing Malawi woman: "She is [the] reason I risk getting sick . . . She is the reason I don't sleep well at night. Everyone has something they live for and risk their lives for—she is just that." Together with their partners, The Village Experience has opened a medical clinic and a nursery school in Kenya, as well as rebuilt The University of Fondwa in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.
The compassionate crew has led more than 50 trips to various destinations, during which guests ate, shopped, and stayed at local establishments. The store supports more than 30 artisan cooperatives in 25 countries, paying a fair wage for items such as handmade jewelry and envelope wallets that are ideal for holding IDs, credit cards, and Monopoly money. Each purchase provides economic sustenance for organizations such as women's cooperatives, microfinancing projects, and orphanages.
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