A Letter from our Founder + Owner - She Matters.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast the stone across the water and create many ripples.”- Mother Teresa

 

When people ask me why I created Olive & Annie, and why we so passionately advocate to end sexual violence, one young woman comes to mind immediately.

Her name is Jackie.

 

In February 2016 I heard the story of a 16-year-old young woman from Kibera slum in Nairobi who was a survivor of sexual violence.  Olive & Annie was still a thought at the time – a fair-trade brand I had only dreamed of, but had yet to turn into a reality. Her story shook me to my core. This young woman was simply walking home from buying bread when her world changed forever. She became a single mother and bravely pushed forward for the sake of her child. The true definition of a survivor.  

I heard Jackie’s story on a Facebook forum for Expats in the country. The post was simply asking for donations for her child and shared little bits of her story. When I read the message I was in shock.  I asked the first questions which came to my mind – had she received hospital care? Had she been tested for HIV? Was she receiving counselling? My questions were met with no answers. I was told she was fine and just needed donations for her child. I didn’t push forward. I prayed for her and her child.

Flash forward to May 2016. I was doing consulting for a non-profit organization providing education to children in Kibera slum. During my site visit in walked a young woman with what appeared to be her mother and her newborn baby. The Director of the NGO greeted them, the baby was coming for a check-up. Being a single mother myself I focused on the young girl. She looked no older than 18. She was disconnected, almost as if she was in a daze. The Director said her name – Jackie. Suddenly it all connected in my mind. THIS WAS JACKIE. I’m a true believer in signs and this was no coincidence. This was fate. I introduced myself to Jackie. I explained that I am the Founder of ZLT Home of Hope – a children’s home in Nairobi. I explained that I am a young single mother and I was deeply touched by her story and her perseverance. I asked her if she had family supporting her. She explained she was a single orphan and being raised by her step mother, who was present. She shared with me that she had been tested after the rape but that she was not receiving counselling. I asked her step mother what the plan was for Jackie. I was quickly filled in that Jackie was in Grade 8 but would be dropping from school to study hairdressing. That she needed to help take care of her 6 younger siblings and her baby. These stories of sexual violence are so incredibly common in the slums, within Kenya as a whole. 1 in 3 Kenyan women under the age of 18 years old will experience sexual violence. Though Jackie was just ONE of the millions of Kenyan women and children who had survived sexual violence, her story mattered. I asked her, “would you like to join the ZLT family? Would you like to create a successful future for you and your daughter?” She said yes. 

After Jackie joined our family I proceeded with my vision for Olive & Annie. I was inspired. Together with my partner and primary Investor we created a brand that shares the stories of single mothers, orphaned children, and survivors of sexual violence.  Every piece of Olive & Annie jewelry tells a story and every pair of our fair-trade moccasins is inspired by Africa.  

The She Matters Movement aims to share the stories of survivors of sexual violence and provide funding to our grassroots initiatives to empower single mothers, provide authentic sexual health education to youth, effectively equip GBV units at hospitals, provide counselling and support to survivors, mentor young men in an effort to end sexual violence, and actively advocate on a global scale to end sexual violence. The She Matters Movement is a call to action to declare that SHE MATTERS. Stating that no factors justify rape and that we need to support survivors rather than encouraging silence.

 I am a survivor of sexual violence and stayed silent for 3 years out of fear. Initially when I came forward I was told that sharing my story would jeopardize my future and negatively affect my child. The time is now for the She Matters Movement. 

For our mothers.

For our sisters.

For our friends.

For our daughters.

SHE MATTERS.

Will you join me? 

 

With love, 

Jacqueline Villeneuve

Mpumi Nobiva x Olive & Annie - Amandla Necklace

Amandla is the Nguni term for strength in Sub-Saharan Africa. This piece inspires the spirit of Strength and Unity for the African child. It hardnesses an inner power unleashed through courage and hope for a better Africa! 

The first act of courage in support of Share Your Story? Purchase your Amandla necklace on August 1st (with 30% from every sale directly supporting the Share Your Story campaign), shop Olive & Annie throughout the month of August with 20% of profit from EVERY item sold will support the Share Your Story campaign, and donate directly to the campaign by clicking here

Styling: Owja Styling  Outfit: Ikojn (Kenya)  Photographer: Royce Bett

Styling: Owja Styling 

Outfit: Ikojn (Kenya) 

Photographer: Royce Bett

Upon meeting in April at We Day LA I invited Mpumi to serve as a Brand Ambassador for Olive & Annie. She graciously accepted. Not only was Mpumi an AIDS orphan herself, but she serves as an amazing example to youth and men and women around the world that your circumstances do not dictate your future. Mpumi graduated top of her class in both her Bachelors and Masters degrees. She founded the "Share Your Story" campaign to raise awareness for Domestic Violence, HIV/AIDS Awareness, and support for orphaned children in South Africa, and across Africa as a whole. 

Mpumi serves as a voice for orphaned children which originally drew me to her compelling story of resilience and courage. As I sat back and watched her speak in LA I immediately thought of my girls at ZLT Hope Home. My family. Bright young girls who were often told their dreams cannot become a reality because they are orphans, that perhaps their dreams are "too big". At ZLT we have always encouraged our children to dream big, to have courage, to be kind, and most importantly - to never give up. I found myself crying that happiest of tears hearing this incredible young woman share her story, and in turn share the story of AIDS orphans across Africa. From that moment I knew, I wanted to work with Mpumi and support her vision. 

Shortly after connecting Mpumi shared her vision for the "Share Your Story" campaign with me. Being that we are huge advocates for women's rights, ending violence against women, and advocating for orphaned children at Olive & Annie, our missions matched perfectly. After our first meeting via teleconference I felt incredibly motivated and inspired! We are both two young women, myself being 23 and Mpumi being 24. Our hearts belong in Africa and we are both passionately advocating to support orphaned children and create a better world for our mothers, our sisters, and our daughters. This journey we have embarked on, discussing topics many people wish to push to the side, is not an easy one - but we refuse to give up! A partnership was born, with Mpumi serving as one of our Brand Ambassadors and together with Olive & Annie we have created the Amandla necklace in support of the Share Your Story campaign. 

We are stronger together. 

With love, 

 

Jacqueline Villeneuve

Owner + Founder of Olive & Annie

To learn more about the Share Your Story campaign please visit https://www.gofundme.com/unite-against-domestic-violence. 

 

 

Meet the Team - Lindsay's Story

 Looking back now I cannot believe what a blessing it is to be a Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Olive & Annie. Some days it's hard to believe how far I've come from a single parent home in a tough neighbourhood in Norfolk, Virginia! I lived in a single parent home with my father and my little sister in a small neighbourhood based on what my father could afford.  It wasn’t much, but it was everything we needed.  My mother separated from the family without a word due to her struggle with mental illness on the day I turned six.  She would periodically contact us and would sometimes visit and say she was staying, but because of her condition (bi-polar disorder) she would be gone the next morning, leaving my father confused and a lot of times depressed.  He would say “your mother loves you but she’s sick", and I would say I have medicine here so she can stay next time.  At that age, you never really comprehend what’s going on, you just understand that people call it “grown up business” and you forget about it and go play with your friends.  My father worked almost every single day of my childhood for countless hours at the local Goodwill and side jobs doing yardwork for people in rich neighbourhoods.  Due to my father’s criminal charges from his past it was difficult for him to obtain a lucrative job, no matter how hard he worked. My dad working at the Goodwill gave us advantages with “purchasing” clothes.  Even though they were old we still fortunate to have clothes on our backs.  On the weekdays, I would be in the childcare program along with my sister in the local YMCA/recreation center until my father finished working and arrived to pick us up.  On the weekends it would just be her and I, and when you’re a big brother that needs to step up you grow up quick and you attain skills just as fast, especially when it comes to protecting someone.  All the knowledge my father gained from past mistakes he stressed to me not to make every day in his own way.  He taught me how to protect myself, how to stay on top my finances, and most importantly how to value women.  I grew up realizing how special, beautiful and miraculous women are.  There were days women around our area would be raped or taken advantage of, and because I had a younger sister I was always on guard for her.  After growing a older I became interested in psychology and dreamed of helping people, especially my city or those who had similar childhoods, with their struggles.  I grew up telling my father I wanted to be this huge businessman that was in charge of Downtown Norfolk, so he wouldn’t have to work every day and he would just laugh and give me that fake smile a lot of parents do to encourage their children (which still brings a smile to my face to this day!) 

In my high school years, I was scouted by a U.S. Marine recruiter who I shut down many times, until my last year of high school.  He promised me I could escape my area, travel, learn new things about myself, and what was most important to me, making a lot of money.  I eventually said yes and was on my way to become a U.S. Marine.

After completing all of my training and schooling for my job as a Combat Engineer and arriving to my first unit, I was told I was going to Iraq the very next day.  After Iraq, a few months later I had begun training to deploy to Afghanistan.  Shortly after I began to like the Marine Corps and reenlisted again instead of getting out like I planned to, to see what else it had to offer besides free schooling for college.  I found the Marine Security Guard Program and went through the rigorous training to become a Marine who could travel the world protecting embassies.  My first post was London, England and that was a complete eye opener for how the world worked.  After a year of fish and chips and hot beer, and I was off to Nairobi, Kenya where my life definitely changed in ways I never could have imagined!

In Nairobi I met tons of people involved in different types of business, and then one day I was introduced to a certain sassy Canadian by the name of Jacqueline Villeneuve or “Jacquie” as she was introduced to me.  Jacquie was a true go getter who displayed tons of confidence and courage in her line of work.  She was involved in something so selfless, and so amazing, that I could not stop noticing her or being in her vicinity trying to learn what she knew. She was fearless! A couple of the Marines and I began volunteering in her children’s home just to help around the house and spend time with the kids. Dancing brought me so much joy in my childhood and our dance offs with the kids were definitely the highlight for us all! Months later Jacquie came to me with her business proposal that would in turn make some money, as well as have a positive impact on her children's lives and the lives of fellow single mothers (yes - on top of running a children's home Jacquie was also raising a spunky little one year old on her own!) Through my deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and working on the Marine Security Guard program, I had so much money saved up and was looking for something to invest in. After seeing Jacquie's passion to create a social enterprise, and getting to know the children of Zawadi la Tumaini Children's Home, I couldn't help but say yes to her business proposal. Jacqueline's dreams and her past have influenced me to assist her in this crazy dream of making the world a better place through the positive charitable efforts of Olive & Annie.  So nearly one year later here we are…

The MOM2MOM Market

Hello mamas! 

Our Olive & Annie team has been hard at work creating a new shopping market for mothers in Northern Ontario, Canada over the holiday season. We teamed up with Sprout Handmade to create this unique fair trade market featuring some of our favourite Canadian small shops! 

The MOM2MOM Market will take place on the last Saturday of each month in Sudbury, ON (Canada). Each month a different venue will be selected and donations will be accepted for two charities - one local and one international - which support women and children. Here are some sneak peaks of some of the brands which will be feature at the first MOM2MOM Market on January 28th, 2017! 

Bebe Fete: Bébé Fête is a proudly Canadian company that specializes in streetwear for babies and toddlers. All of their adorable garments are made locally in Toronto, ON and the artwork is screen printed using eco-friendly methods.

Our team loves the Nursery Rhymes sweater and we made sure to have lots in stock for the first MOM2MOM Market! 

Mo Green: Mo Green Clothing Co. was created by a husband and wife team in Toronto, ON. The pair were inspired by the adventures and experiences of raising their son which led to the creation of Mo Green Clothing Co.  All Mo Green clothing is locally curated, designed, and printed in Canada. 

 

Similar to Olive & Annie Mo Green believes in giving back. The company proudly donates 5% of profit from every sale to local charities. Our favourite product from Mo Green is their "THE TRIBE" sweater which says "We Are All In This Together". We loved the message the sweater shares! All proceeds from the sale of "THE TRIBE" support The New Mom Project. 

Young Living: Young Living was founded by Gary Young and Mary Young in 1993. For over two decades Young Living has assisted millions of North American's through the natural benefits of essential oils. Our Founder Jacqueline was introduced to Young Living products through our Creative Director, Ellie Coburn, who greatly benefited from the use of Young Living products while struggling with depression in her youth. There are countless benefits to using essential oils and Young Living creates an amazing product line which assists with a variety of benefits for moms from minimizing your stress levels, offering natural cleaning products within your home, to providing safe and organic detergents. 

Young Living products have expanded to Canada which saves on shipping expenses and offers moms the opportunity to have easy access to their fantastic products! We featured some of our favourite products below. The Thieves products for house clean are all natural and FANTASTIC. They last longer than typical household cleaners most mothers use and they are safe for you and baby. 

Our Founder Jacqueline swears by Young Living products for both her daughter, and the kiddos at her children's home in Kenya, and will be happy to answer any of your questions and recommend products! To learn more about Young Living click here. 

Tree Top Bath and Body: Tree Top Bath and Body creates amazing fair-trade products in Sudbury, ON. The company specializes in making a range of natural products for home and personal care. We love their baby care products!

To learn more about Tree Top Bath & Body products click here.

To learn more about Tree Top Bath & Body products click here.

Sprout Handmade: Founded by two sisters in Sudbury, ON Sprout Handmade creates beautiful organic knit baby and toddler wear. The team at Sprout worked diligently with our team at Olive & Annie to carefully select each and every brand featured at our MOM2MOM Market. Take a look at some of our favourites below! 

Juicy Jen's: Fresh, cold-pressed juice delivered to your door. Unpasteurized, no added salt, no added sugar and no preservatives. Perfect for our post-pardum mamas! Juicy Jen's products give you a healthy boost or help you get back to your "normal" self after baby. 

To learn more about Juicy Jen's click here. 

To learn more about Juicy Jen's click here. 

e are so excited to launch of first MOM2MOM Market with you all on January 28th, 2017 in Sudbury, ON from 11AM to 1PM at the Fromagerie Elgin. Join us for some fantastic shopping and delicious food and drinks which supporting two amazing causes! 

See you there! 

Holiday Favourites

This holiday season we teamed up with Mo Green and Sprout Homemade to create some adorable festive combinations! Though the holiday season may be over we are still loving these adorable outfits. 

We absolutely adore "The Tribe" shirt from Mo Green - seen here on our Founder's daughter Shairah. Mo Green is one of our favourite Canadian companies! All of their shirts and sweaters are designed and produced in North America. They are ultrasoft and have beautiful quotes fitting to the causes they support. 5% of profit from every purchase directly supports charities supporting women and children. 

To shop Mo Green visit www.mogreenshop.com. 

We LOVE these adorable moose pants from Sprout Homemade paired with our Mbuzi White moccasins. The Mbuzi White moccasins were a hit for the winter season! Their mixture of white hunting suede and chocolate brown leather bottoms make them the perfect pick to complete any winter outfits! The adorable polar bear + santa hat pants make for the perfect festive choice which can easily be carried out through the remainder of the winter season! We paired them with our Sahara Brown moccasins but they also match perfectly with the Maasai Red and Acacia Green moccasins as well.