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Holly and Chelsie Wehde, and Elisabeth and Gretchen Huijskens, co-founders of Trades of Hope, visted Port au Prince, Haiti, in March. COURTESY PHOTOS
Palm Coast Thursday, Apr. 21, 2011 8 years ago

Business lifts women out of poverty

by: Shanna Fortier Associate Editor

At 41, Holly Wehde had a heart attack and realized she wanted her life to mean something more. She also wanted to teach that philosophy to her five children.

One day, while attending a Party Lite party, Wehde had an epiphany.

“If candles and makeup could get into every home in America through home parties, why not use the home party model of business to help women all over the world out of poverty?” Wehde said.

And that is why Trades of Hope was formed.

Wehde, now 42, and Gretchen Huijskens, 36, partnered with their teenage daughters, Chelsie Wehde and Elisabeth Huijskens, to launch Trades of Hope in September 2010.

Trades of Hope is designed to help women out of poverty through home parties, portable parties and, soon, online parties.

“Our goal is to help women who are in desperate situations have a better life,” Wehde said. “ ... This is so they can feed their children and put a roof over their head and send them to school. In some cases, it is life or death for many of these women and their children. Many of these women are being rescued from extreme poverty, slums, sweatshops and the sex trade. Forty percent of all women around the world make less than $2 a day, and Trades of Hope is changing that and changing lives.”

The four founders recently traveled to Haiti to meet women who make beads.

While there, the group was able to purchase chickens, roosters and goats for the women who do bead work. They also bought one woman a sewing machine.

In addition to jewelry, Trades of Hope also sells bags, scarves and soap.

“For many of these girls, it was not their choice to be in the sex trade,” Wehde said. “They were forced into it and even stolen from their families. Making soap is their ticket out of it.”

But Trades of Hope does not just help women in other countries. The founders want to help women in American by creating an opportunity for them to make an income through selling theses products.

Since its launch, in September, Trades of Hope has acquired 19 representatives in nine states throughout the country and will start a marketing campaign in June to seek more.

“Gretchen and I wanted to teach our daughters that at any age we can be world-changers and that we need to give back because we are so blessed,” Wehde said. “There is nothing more exciting than knowing God is using you in the lives of others.”

To host a Trades of Hope party, visit or email tradesof [email protected].

Trades of Hope will also host a crafts show 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at the Life Center, 4882 Palm Coast Parkway N.W.

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