Krista, founder and CEO of Shop JustOne, partners with artisans from Kenya and Uganda to create fairly traded and ethically sourced gifts, jewelry, bags, baskets, and housewares. She packages each item with a note describing one of the partners who made the items and their story. By purchasing their products, you are supporting artisans around the world working to break their poverty cycle.
Krista founded the company in 2012 after winning a photography contest that included a two-week visit to Uganda. She bought a necklace and was moved by the talented people living in unfortunate conditions. When she asked if anyone else wanted a necklace and gave two weeks to purchase one… 200 were sold and JustOne was born! JustOne’s mission is to provide dignified income opportunities to skilled artisans in developing countries by connecting them to the global market through long-term fair-trading relationships.
Read more about her inspiring story and how she has made a positive impact on the community.
Tell us about your journey and how JustOne began!
JustOne started with a simple four word prayer. I had been a photographer for over a decade, and was starting to want something “more”. I felt like I was called to do something more, but couldn’t figure out what. So I prayed “Lord use my camera” as it was the only thing I had to offer. Long story short - I won a national photography contest that sent me to Uganda. While there, I bought a necklace from some women I met. When I came home, I kept thinking about the people I had met on recent trips my photography had taken me to in Uganda, Haiti, El Salvador and more. Also at that time, I found wherever I wore my necklace I had bought in Uganda as a souvenir - I got so many compliments on it. And it started a conversation where I could tell about the incredible artisans who made it. When I learned someone was going back to Uganda, I asked on my photo blog if anyone would like to buy one. I gave two weeks to purchase - at the end we had sold over 200. A light bulb went off - here was a way to support and partner with the incredible people I had met in my travels. A year to the time I had prayed that simple prayer, JustOne was launched.
- Tell us about your mission with JustOne! How does it help international communities?
My main mission in partnering with artisans in Kenya and Uganda currently, is to provide a global marketplace for them. Through our partnership, they can sell their incredible handcrafted goods - and are able to provide for their own family. Build homes. Send children to school. Break the poverty cycle. There is so much dignity in being able to provide for your own family’s needs.
You work closely with many people in need from Kenya and Uganda. What’s a story you have experienced working with them that you want to share with us?
On a recent trip, before I went I told the artisans my goal for the tip. At that point we had worked together for eight years. And I asked “so what?” If we had not started partnering together, what would be different? What impact has our partnership had. And so they took me to the rural areas to show me where they had purchased land. Bought cattle. Built homes. We stayed as a guest in one of the homes even. I remember in particular standing inside the home of Lillian who I first met back in 2012 - the safe, sturdy, beautiful home - that was built because JustOne exists. That was a feeling I hope I never forget.
JustOne has beautiful designs, from jewelry to wallets or even home accessories! What is your favorite item from Just One?
Oh that's a tough question! Not a day goes by that I do not wear some jewelry from JustOne. Currently my go to's are our Kitanzi Hoops, Salama necklace, or one of our Kiungo pieces like the necklace or bracelet.
Too many to pick “JustOne”!
JustOne is all about doing good. What would you say to a person who wants to start helping out but don’t know where to start?
JustOne’s name has many meanings - but one of them is this: We are each JustOne person, but by making simple changes and starting with “just one” step… we can make a world of difference.
I always encourage people to look at what makes them mad, sad or glad. What is it that makes you feel something that you just can’t shake? Maybe it is the war in Ukraine. Global warming. LGBTQ+ issues. Racism. I could go on. And look what is in your hands - what do you have that you can offer. For me it was a camera. Then, look at how you can combine what you’re passionate about - and what you can offer. It may be something as simple as purchasing from businesses like The Good Tee or JustOne. It may be volunteering. Or making one change to your routine - walking instead of driving. Donating funds instead of buying coffee daily. Thrifting instead of shopping fast fashion. And little by little, as we each do our part we’ll begin to see a world of difference!
Like the Good Tee, JustOne works to create products that contribute back to the community, economy, and environment. They strive to build supportive, empowering partnerships that encourage their artisan partners to strive for excellence. JustOne products are sold online and at their store location in Caledonia, Ontario. To support and learn more about Krista and Shop Just One, visit the links below. Remember, you may be just one person, but you have the power to make a difference, even if it is in the life of just one person.