How it started
In 2009 I (Stella Romana Airoldi) visited Uganda for the first time to do research for my International Law thesis about Girl child soldiers within the LRA. I met women living in the Acholi Quarter of Kampala; a camp for internally displaced persons who fled from the war in Northern Uganda many years ago. I was touched by the stories of the Acholi women and very impressed by their artistic skills to make beautiful jewellery out of recycled paper. Every year I orded some jewellery to give to my friends and family. Then a few years later all started with a crazy photoshoot in the living room of my mother: 22STARS WAS BORN! I decided to use my own creativity to help those ladies design, market and sell their products on the international market. By the end of 2012 I went back to Uganda and took my friend Lianne with me. I selected a few ladies to start working with and my Ugandan friends David and Moses decided to join the 22STARS team since they know the Acholi Quarters very well.
Meaning of 22STARS
When I was a small child, I was already attracted by the number 22. Just for fun I found out that in some myths 22 is potentially the most successful of all numbers and it can turn the most ambitious dreams into reality. 22’s have to work towards the realization of larger goals that are beyond personal ambition. And when you turn the numbers toward each other as we did in our logo you get a heart. The stars symbolize how everything is interconnected in this world. Whether we live in Europe or in Africa, we all can see the stars. You have to take risks, go out there and be determinate to reach for the stars and be all you can be. For our designers stars have additional meanings. For Susan stars mean hope and she prays under them. For Beatrice stars are like a guide that shows you your own path. For Atim they stand for protection and balance. For Grace it means that she doesn’t have to worry in the darkness for that is when the stars shine brightest. And last but not least, I love sleeping under the stars!
Our mission is to design and sell high quality jewellery made with respect for the environment and the people that make them. We want to help people out of poverty by making sure that they can provide for themselves. Therefore, we work side-by-side with our designers who live in the Acholi Quarter in Kampala (Uganda). Together we apply our passions, talents and ideas. By giving our designers a plan to market and sell their products internationally they are able to earn money for food, housing, medicine and schoolfees fees. 22STARS believes that to really empower people to provide for themselves they need more than that: part of our net profit will be used to finance our 22STARS projects, educating our designers and their children; they receive English lessons, learn about Income Generating Activities (IGA), get social support, and music, dance and drama classes. In addition we are also looking for other organizations on the ground that can help these women in learning small businesses skills and give them HIV/Aids counseling.
New creative thinking; get rid of the box!
22STARS believes that new thinking and new ideas are everything. We empower our team to take initiative and give their best. We don’t just think outside of the box, but are getting rid of it. Everyone in our team is committed in his or her heart and mind. From the very beginning, 22STARS has placed the utmost importance on the freedom for creativity and celebrating small successes in our journey to achieve big. These is why we are continuously improving our organisation and products and are having fun.
Transparent, honest and integer!
22STARS commits itself to act with honesty and integrity without compromising the truth. All our team members and designers are open, candid and truthful. We all do what we say and live up to the highest standard of fair and ethical behaviour.
22STARS seeks feedback from all directions to achieve open communication and foster collaboration. We are proactive in communicating up, down, and across the entire organization.
22STARS prefers fair-trade jewellery that is made with respect for our environment and the people that make them. Our choice for environmentally friendly products is a very conscious one. By using 100% recycled paper, the jewellery you wear does not only look good, but it also feels good. Moreover, we are firmly rooted in the local community in which we operate. This means that we treat the people around us with the greatest degree of care and empower them with income and education. Besides poverty eradication, we also value that the making of this jewellery restores the dignity of these women, and helping others to recognize the most vulnerable as truly human.