The Myanmar Project

Article published at: Oct 13, 2020
The Myanmar Project
All Know Her Stories

From 2019-2020, H&B participated in a social entrepreneurship project to bring meaningful work to a women’s collective in Mandalay, Myanmar. Alongside these artisans and our partners, we worked to design and manufacture a new Sparkle Ball™ colour: Shimmer 

How it began

Empowering women has always been at the heart of Hillberg & Berk, but we wanted to take things a step further by giving a group of talented but systemically impoverished women the resources necessary to empower themselves. We partnered with the Ostro Foundation and Fair Share Myanmar to create jobs and a positive work environment for a collective of women in Mandalay, Myanmar. The task at hand? Creating Sparkle Balls™ in a brand new colour.

The colour story

Once in Myanmar, we brainstormed with our new team and collectively decided on a light, slightly-iridescent gold—a colour inspired by a natural facial cosmetic called Thanakha. Many women in Myanmar prize Thanakha for its aesthetic value and sun-blocking properties. Several women in the collective wore it daily! 

From her hands to yours

Each Shimmer Sparkle Ball™ has been handcrafted by a talented woman artisan. The creation process, which involves hand-placing Swarovski crystals into gold clay, takes incredible attention to detail. From the start, these women were up to the task. After a series of lessons with us, they began to make Shimmer the reality we hoped it would be.

About the workplace

We prioritized a positive working environment with proper tools and equipment, regular nine-to-five weekday hours, fair pay, regular breaks, supportive employers, and freedom to express religious identity. These conditions are human rights and should never be sacrificed for the sake of profit or convenience. It’s not revolutionary; it’s just right. 

About the artisans

Each woman in our Myanmar collective was hired by husband and wife team Raihan and Thuzar (the co-founders of Fair Share Myanmar). They selected these women based on potential and need: each came from a highly vulnerable, systematically-impoverished community where low pay, long hours, unsafe working conditions, and high levels of debt made it extremely difficult for them to properly care for themselves and their families. 

Social impact

There are innumerable social and economic benefits that come to communities who place women in positions of economic independence and agency. The Myanmar Project was a way to kick-start those benefits and to rethink the way businesses “do good” in our world. Instead of giving these women goods or money, we gave them a business model, and with that, a chance to do meaningful work in their communities. We reversed the traditional business model of investing in profit first, then donating it back to communities. 

Why wear Shimmer?

To support women’s economic independence

To bridge a global connection 

To celebrate cultural difference

To empower women you don’t know

To empower women you do know

To empower yourself.

Click here to shop Shimmer.