AION Gathering Designers to Support Others
AION is a group of designers that focuses on adventure and nature to create community across the globe for fair-trade clothing. Founder, Michael Massie emphasizes that the company collaborates with local craftsmen in various cities including Bali and Indonesia to help them grow their business. We talked with Massie four years ago about how he started AION and how his faith has led him to support a local orphanage.
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:17-19
Massie explains how the idea for AION developed and why they put people before profits.
“I was reading a book and the author was talking about the meaning of aion being heaven now, and elevating people u, and I was really inspired by that way of thinking instead of just waiting. As a Christian, you die and go to Heaven, but why not do something now that produces something good. When we were over in Indonesia, or when we first started in Nepal, it was more about giving somebody an opportunity to grow their business and to give them a way out [of their dire situation]. At first we were working with women from the sex trade industry and it was to give them a job. Now we are working with little manufacturers on the island of Bali and it gives them a chance to create orders and grow their business. We’ve also helped them with machinery like sewing machines and such as they don’t have the capital to grow their business with the machines they have…Some of them already have little shops. Like our beanie guy has a shop where he is selling beanies, sweaters and knits; but to him, it’s a struggle trying to sell that stuff in Indonesia because the weather is pretty warm. But Indonesian people ride scooters a lot, and even though it’s warm outside, they still cover-up with jackets and beanies because of the wind. So finding someone like that and coming alongside to provide them more sales channels allows them to produce more business. I find people like that through friends. I initially found that guy through a friend that has lived in Bali for 30 years and she helped me find the first few people. Now ever time I go back there, I meet more people. Every time I leave the island, I leave with more friends; they are very friendly people.”
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:26-27
Massie shares about how his personal faith led him to support a local Christian orphanage.
“The lady, Susan, who had introduced me to some of these people, is an American who has lived in Bali for 30 years. She supported a Christian orphanage and got me involved with that. It was important to me because Christianity is the minority religion there. On the island of Bali there are three religions; Hinduism, primary Balinese religion, then there are Muslims, and that is followed by Christianity. It’s pretty interesting. So it was really great to be able to support them. We have given nearly 500 kids T-shirts, money and supported them with necessities, and that has really just begun. We are trying to set it up to where it’s an ongoing thing.”
Be a catalyst. Whether you are a designer, crafter or have a business background, reflect on how you can use your gifts and talents to bring others together and help improve your community or another country. It can be knitting beanies for newborns in the NICU, building a home with other contractors for a veteran, or leading an art class for youth at the community center. The opportunities are endless. Ask God for direction and to bring others with a similar vision into your path.
Support fair-trade businesses. When you have the opportunity, purchase products that can support an organization or local craftsmen. It could be a t-shirt, beanie, candle or even toys. There are so many companies out there that are partnering with local workers to empower them. Make sure to read about the company and study how the profits are allocated.
Help orphans. If you are in a position to adopt, prayerfully consider adopting locally or globally. The cost of adoption is expensive. Help a friend or someone at church who is adopting by donating to them or giving much needed baby/child supplies. Consider volunteering at a local orphanage. Whether it is going in and reading a book or helping with a meal time, ask a local orphanage if there are ways that you and your small group can serve.
To read our entire interview with Michael Massie of AION click here.