The Love Is Project's journey began in 2012 when Chrissie Lam founded The Supply Change, an initiative that connects artisan groups with brands and creates products for collaborations.
In 2013, Chrissie visited Kenya’s Great Rift Valley to design new products with sustainable, artisanal origins. She linked up with a non-profit which runs a project called Maasai Mums that provides sustainable employment for women in rural Kenya who create beautiful handcrafted bracelets and handbags. Inspired by the vibrant colors and patterns of the Maasai tribe’s clothing, and looking to help them develop marketable goods, Chrissie developed the idea for a simple and bold message bracelet in their traditional beading.
One day, on a flight to Moscow in 2014, the bracelet inspired a conversation with two girls from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan about what LOVE means. She asked what love means to them and recorded their answer in her phone. On landing in Moscow, she uploaded a photo of them wearing the bracelet to Instagram.
Response to the photo was immediate. And so the #loveisproject was born and Chrissie began her adventures around the world, asking couples and singles, grandparents and children, young and old, "What is love?" She got answers from 100 nationalities in 45 countries, from Mongolia to Palestine, Nepal to Bali and everywhere in between.
What started as a personal passion project began to blossom into a global movement of love.
All of this took place against a background of tumultuous world events. In a world with so much pain, where it could feel like we were constantly exposed to more hate stories about fear, war, displacement and terrorism, than real stories about love. The success of the project showed an appetite for something different. Technology keeps us connected, yet we are disconnected in real life. This was an experiment in connection.
Just from social media word-of-mouth alone, Chrissie knew she had an amazing product on her hands.
Together with UBUNTU, Chrissie launched an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the creation and marketing of the bracelets. They exceeded their $5,000 goal by 657%, raising $32,844 from 855 backers around the world. Supporters from 30 countries bought thousands of the first handmade LOVE bracelets.
On the heels of that success, they sold thousands more after developing the following partnerships in 2015:
American Eagle Outfitters (US & UK)
American Eagle Outfitters ordered 20,000 LOVE bracelets for February 2015 US & UK launch, creating over 400 jobs with an initial $200,000 order. Each order translated into real earnings for thousands of Maasai and their families.
Whole Foods Market (US & UK)
Whole Foods Market launch green LOVE bracelets beginning June 2015 in their US & UK stores, matching AE's order.
We collaborated with Colette Paris on limited edition French LOVE bracelets coinciding with Bob Melet’s installation and Fashion Week. Developed #loveisproject takeovers in Paris & London, involving local and international artists, photographers & filmmakers documenting love in their cities.
These first orders created over 400 jobs and made American Eagle & Whole Foods the largest employer of Maasai.
Instagram posts of the bracelet attracted up to a quarter of a million likes.
People were sharing their own love stories spontaneously.
Thanks to the help of these partnerships, Chrissie knew it was time to take the bracelet to the next level.
Where We Are & Where We're Going
The Love Is Project is now a standalone lifestyle brand and product with a dedicated team and platform. We offer the same handmade bracelets made by the same Maasai mums as who first inspired it.
But we are about more than creating sustainable livelihoods in Kenya. We're about Love. Love is universal. And so is our appetite for storytelling. The Love Is Project exists to share the story of Love – in all its good, bad, joyful and painful guises – via an authentic movement from the ground up. We've seen how connecting others through the universal truth of love brings laughter, joy, and happiness.
Every purchase creates a sustainable livelihood for thousands of Maasai women and their families. We’re thrilled to expand our production from Africa to Southeast Asia & South America along the equatorial line, creating jobs while fostering local artisanal craftsmanship. This “Pay It Forward” social enterprise model extends this concept to empower artisan communities worldwide in an ethical supply chain of love. Sales from the Kenya line will continue to sustain economic development for the women of the Maasai & Samburu tribes while profits fund new initiatives in Indonesia, Ecuador, Bhutan, India, Vietnam, Guatemala & Colombia. We look forward to continue growing the story of love to other countries and communities.
We hope you will join us on our journey!
LOVE connects us all!