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Wednesday, October 17

Getting to Know an Everyday Activist: Whitney Ray

Today I've got a treat for you! What I like about most about Noonday Representative Whitney Ray's story is that she's a wife, mom, and blogger, just like a lot of us, who took seriously the command to care for  the orphan and widows. I  believe you'll be encouraged and blessed by our conversation. 

Emily: First, introduce yourself! Tell us a little about you.

Whitney: Hi, I’m Whitney Ray from Houston, TX! I am a wife, a mom to two red headed little boys, and an advocate for artisans around the world. I love fashion and following the call to care for the poor and oppressed.


E: Tell us about Noonday Collections. What attracted you to Noonday, and how did you get involved?

W: Noonday is a really incredible company that begun as a fundraiser for the founder’s Jessica Honegger, Rwandan adoption. Jessica has lived in places that are resource poor around the world and had friends who said, “here, sell these items handmade by people in our community and your can raise money for your adoption.” The paper bead items come from Uganda, the seed jewelry from Ecuador, and the woven items from Guatemala. Each item is a craft that has been made for generations in their community, the design has just been tweaked to appeal to the American marketplace. The idea is to provide sustainable, meaningful work, not just a one-time aid donation.

I had begun reading Isaiah 58 every day for a month when I came across Noonday Collection online. Coincidentally, Noonday gets its name from Isaiah 58:10: “When you care for the poor and the oppressed, your night will shine like the noonday.” With a background in fashion design, and a heart that was being awakened to the needs of the poor and oppressed around the world, I knew that Noonday was something special and something I was made to be a part of! I clicked on the “Become an Ambassador {learn more}” button on the webpage, and the rest was history! I was the 9th Ambassador to join in September of 2011, and now they just accepted their 100th Ambassador in September 2012!



E: What's the best part about being a Noonday representative?

W: For me, the best part about being an Ambassador is the opportunity it gives me to use both my love of fashion and my passion for justice. I get to get together with my girl friends, have a fun night of style, all while offering them a chance to be a part of something bigger, something that can change the world! The passion at Noonday Collection is to connect you with the lives of artisans struggling for a better future while styling you along the way. With Noonday and attending a Noonday trunk show, fashion and design can be a vehicle for opportunity and change. When you shop with Noonday or advocate as an Ambassador, you, too, can be a voice for the oppressed!

 
E: How has being a Noonday Representative affected you personally and your life?

W: Each day that I am involved in Noonday as an Ambassador is another day that I get to reach outside myself, that I get to remember artisans in areas I may never travel but have become dear to my heart, and that I get to share this chance to be part of something bigger to those around me. My heart has been moved and I love sharing this chance we all have to be the change we want to see in the world!

E: Is buying from ethical, conscientious companies important to you, and why?

W: It is so important to me that I buy from ethical, conscientious companies! We all say we are against slavery, oppression, and/or abuse, but if we shop from companies that practice this then we are in effect supporting these deplorable actions. We can write letters to the editors or post things to facebook all we want, but it is how we spend our money that talks. The more companies see an economic reason to make changes for the better, the more they will. This is why we have seen a rise in companies like Toms shoes, Fair Trade coffee and chocolate, and companies like Noonday Collection. The more we raise the demand for ethically made products, the more companies will supply them!



E: What would you say to the reader who wants to make a difference, but doesn't know where to start?

W: Start small! It is easy to be overwhelmed when you begin to learn about the numbers of those in poverty or the numbers of those effected by un-ethical companies around the world and feel like you have to throw out everything and begin to grow all your own food! But as Mother Theresa said, “we don’t do great things, we only do small things with great love.” Begin to make small changes in what you wear or what you eat. Buy only fair trade coffee or buy an accessory from Noonday Collection. Each time you drink your coffee or wear your accessory, think and pray for the person who made this item. Then, step-by-step you will begin to see other areas of your life that you can begin to make a difference. I read Isaiah 58 every day for 30 days and that kick-started a lot of changes in my own life, maybe that would be a place others would want to start as well. The most important thing is to do something, no matter how small!


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I couldn't agree with Whitney more (she used my favorite Mother Theresa quote too!). Making a difference starts with small things. Here's five easy things you can do to start:
1. Look inside your closet, finding out where your clothes are made. 
2. Discover your slavery footprint.
3. Choose fair trade items when shopping.
4. Download the Free2Work app to find the most ethical companies by industry. 
5. Shop with companies who put your money to good use. Noonday, and the other companies on our sidebar, are great places to start!

Catch up on all the posts in this series here. 

Did you enjoy this interview? Let us know in the comments, and if you have a chance, check out Whitney's Noonday page!