Hi! I’m Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman. I founded the Refugee Artisan Initiative (RAI), and MiMi Globe Goods non-profit organizations in 2016 in Seattle, Washingon, because my passion is to help refugee and immigrant women in the United States to build a better life for their families. All of the profits from our sales go directly to our wonderful women workers.
My concern for refugees began with my own experience – I was an immigrant from Taiwan myself, 32 years ago. I was able to get an education, become a pharmacist, and give my kids a great life. As recent crises around the world brought have brought more refugees to our shores, I wanted to do something to give back and find a way to help these new arrivals achieve financial independence.
While wearing a fashionable fabric necklace home from a trip to France in 2015, I received many compliments and questions about how to buy pieces like it.
From that inspiration, the RAI line of fabric jewelry, was born. I got a chance to put my fashion certificate from the University of Washington, and my love of fashion, to work for good. Our non-profit company uses recycled/upcycled materials, and trains women artisans to assemble all of our beautiful pieces. Each one is unique and handmade, and sold at refugeesarts.org, and at local stores.
Soon thereafter, it became clear that supporting these women was the core of our non-profit, and producing the jewelry was just one outlet to do so. So, I formed the Refugee Artisan Initiative with a talented Board of Directors to help us reach our broader goals. The artisans make items for our own RAI label, or custom items for other companies under their brands (small-batch sewing manufacturing).
The first group of immigrants to craft our products were from Bhutan, and based in Tukwila and Everett, Washington. They began by making fabric flower necklaces, which were then expanded to earrings, barrettes and bracelets.
Find locations here.
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