Paisley + Sparrow is an online marketplace with a mission

A jewelry purchase is no small thing for Jen Biswas, who founded the online shop Paisley + Sparrow to support social justice groups around the world.

“… Every item in my shop has a purpose and a story behind it,” she said.

She carries Soresa earrings handmade from melted-down bullet casings by HIV-positive women in Ethiopia. She’s currently the only seller for a group of widows in one Tanzanian village who make baskets.

“There are not a lot of ways for income there, it’s a really poor part of Tanzania,” she said.

Biswas has a degree in community health — she continues to blog about topics like winter running — and she worked for a time in the health and financial industries.

The idea for the shop came out of Biswas’ participation in the World Race, which sends people to 11 countries in 11 months to work with nonprofits and ministries. She met groups that employed women who had been abducted or trafficked or diagnosed HIV-positive.

“A lot of them really struggled with an outlet to sell their stuff,” she said.

One big seller on the site is a chevron necklace under the brand Purpose/iSanctuary, made by women who were formerly trafficked and now receive education, counseling and a job.

“It’s giving people an opportunity to make a difference from the house, just by spending money a little bit differently,” she said.

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Top photo: Jen Biswas, founder of Paisley + Sparrow. Photo by Lydia Hartnett

Bottom photo by Nicola Harger