Images by Love 41
Each year nearly 25% of Americans participate in some volunteer work. More often than not, many of us come away from volunteering – whether it be a one-time charity event or a life-changing mission trip – with a strong desire to make a difference and continue good works. However, just as often, this desire tends to quickly fade into the background as we blend back into our day-to-day routines.
Suzette Munson, Founder of Love 41, did not let this passion burn out. After visiting Rwanda in 2010 on a trip with Africa New Life Ministries, Suzette was so distraught by the devastation that she found in the African nation – the hunger, the poverty, the desolation – that she knew she had to do something to help. Suzette returned to her home in Texas and with the help of her family, launched the Love 41 organization. Love 41 is an online retailer of high-end leather handbags and accessories and turns over 100% of its profits to educate and provide for the people of Rwanda through Africa New Life Ministries and other charitable organizations.
Beyond just providing funds for charitable causes, Suzette’s team at Love 41 is actively involved in the welfare of the Rwandan community. The team helped start Dream Daycare, where mothers in Rwanda can go to vocational school and trust that their children are being watched in a safe environment. Love 41 also offers a child sponsorship program, where sponsors can pay $39 each month to provide a Rwandan child with school tuition, clothing, meals, and basic medical insurance.
In talking to Suzette we learned that the path to the success of her company wasn’t easy, and it takes a shared vision to bring about such change. But it’s not impossible, and there are ways for all of us to make a difference, no matter how big or small.
01 | Your site has a variety of beautiful bags, jewelry, and other accessories. Tell me about the design process for these items, and the inspiration behind it.
I like to design based off of my personal needs and style. I'm horrible at drawing but I have an amazing design specialist who takes what's in my head and brings it to life on paper. I'm so visual, and I get a lot of inspiration through daily living. I might see a twig and suddenly think of a handle or maybe look at pine cones and say "hey, they need to be made out of leather and hung on a tree."
02 | Your organization is responsible for starting up Dream Daycare as well as Loveback Church – two institutions which have changed the lives of many in Rwanda. How were you inspired to take on such big projects? Where do you start with something like that?
I see a need, and I'm the kind of person who says "How can I help fix this?" I know there's power in people. If you share the vision, they'll respond. I don't take these large projects on by myself. If I did, they'd fail. I work with people to accomplish my goals. They do a better job as a whole than I could ever do alone.
03 | Since the launch of Love 41 in 2011, what has been the most difficult part of maintaining and growing this organization?
Resources. For the most part, it has been just my sister and I running this company. We had to take what we could get and take advantage of any opportunity possible. Startups are so hard to keep going. You don't make money for a few years and sometimes longer. We had to wear a lot of hats. Hats we never want to wear or pick up again!
04 | Between working with your family members for a cause that you love, sponsoring children and watching them thrive in front of your eyes, and helping communities throughout Rwanda with the proceeds from Love 41, what would you say brings you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
Seeing a life radically changed. We've seen it. We've seen it in numerous women, children, and young men. It's been wild to see things like a hardened criminal call you "mum" and turn around to lead others to a life of hope.
05 | You came up with the idea for Love 41 after visiting Rwanda in 2010 on a ministry trip and seeing the tragedy there. So many of us wish we could do something to help make a difference and be a part of something that matters. What advice would you give to readers who are looking to make an impact in the way that you have with Love 41?
Do you really want to help? No matter what your background, situation or income level, you can help. One of the biggest ways is by sponsoring a child for $39 a month. You can do that at www.africanewlife.org and watch that child blossom before your eyes. If you really want to help, contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org
, and I'll hook you up. Heck, come to Africa with me.
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FROM THE EDITOR
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