My Hometown: Creative Women of the World

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – 10 years after her first trip to Haiti, Lorelei VerLee’s life will never be the same. About five years ago she started Creative Women of the World. It’s a nonprofit locally based store, dedicated to giving business training and offering distribution to artisans trained here and around the world.

Lorelei and her team go to other countries and through a three year commitment, they teach women how to do business. Then they help them start their own. Even more, the store in Fort Wayne sells their products, all fair trade. “We only go by invitation. So they have to want us to come. We don’t just descend and say hey, here we are, we’re ready to teach you everything we know. If they want to have us help them have a business we can do that.”

So far they’ve been to 11 countries and want to go to six more. But they need the money. It costs $250 to do the training. “That’s less than a dollar a day to be able to change a woman that’s living on a 1.25 a day or less.”

Changing a woman’s life is just the start. These women then go change the lives of people in their villages. For the first time, people are relying on them to provide. 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day and 70 percent of them are women. Lorelei felt a calling. “There are a lot of people that don’t understand what the rest of the world is really like. I feel like we have come up with stereotypes, we have come up with images of people who are different from us and it conjures up fear in us.”

The assistant manager is the product developer. She helps the women find products in their villages. She said she got involved under the idea we are all the same. “It doesn’t matter if you’re here in Fort Wayne or over in Haiti. We’re all people and I think working together is super important in being able to help each other on that journey we all go on,” Vanessa Sheckler said.

The journeys within Creative Women are all on the product you buy. The individual story of the woman who made it is on the back of each tag. A global connection right here in Fort Wayne. “By our standards, they’re illiterate in many cases and yet they are strong capable women and to see them capture the concepts that were training in business and see how they can apply to their lives, there’s nothing better.”

Creative Women of the World is on Wayne street. Click here for store hours and events.