Elisabeth Crossley-Wright of Love Darling: “Be an example”

Empower! Make our children understand that they CAN make a difference. It’s rarely about having the right resources, but rather about being resourceful. And it’s about having a mindset where you are part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, […]

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Empower! Make our children understand that they CAN make a difference. It’s rarely about having the right resources, but rather about being resourceful. And it’s about having a mindset where you are part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elisabeth Crossley-Wright.

Elisabeth Crossley-Wright founded With Love Darling in 2016, with the idea that a piece of jewelry can speak a thousand words. The Global Goals are very close to her heart, as she worked for the United Nations in Kosovo, and also served as an army officer and peacekeeping missions. She loved storytelling and saw jewelry as the ultimate outlet to convey a strong message. What better way to display a very personal message than through an intimate medium, “You can literally wear your heart on your sleeve.” Elisabeth took a course in goldsmithing to better understand the process of creating her jewelry and what technique is involved when the creation of her pieces is happening.

Elisabeth, originally from Denmark now lives in Montreal with her family and has her sights set on sharing her vision with the world.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I grew up in Denmark. My dad was a human rights lawyer, and my mother was a teacher. They were both very involved in our local community, and it was instilled in me and my siblings that we should try to make an impact — however small. We were very aware of how privileged we were to grow up in the welfare society that is Denmark. Both of my parents are very unconventional; I have never felt I needed to conform. Ideas and curiosity were the main currency in my home, and dinnertime could be a lengthy affair where no stone was left unturned.

Was there an “aha moment” or a specific trigger that made you decide you wanted to become a scientist or environmental leader? Can you share that story with us?

I joined the army at 19 and at age 22 I was sent to Bosnia on my first NATO mission, and the following year to Kosovo on my second mission. What I saw on these missions changed me forever. With war comes a total breakdown of society: No state, no justice, no hospital systems, no educational system, poverty & hunger. It was hard to drive more than a few kilometers without seeing mountains of flowers that covered the often pretty fresh mass graves. The ethnic cleansing had been quite efficient. It was a total shock to me, that such misery could exist a mere 2-hour flight from Denmark, where society is a well-oiled machine and you can trust the authorities. The poverty was crippling. Sometimes I saw families which counted 10 people, who had to survive on one loaf of bread for the day. What struck me was, how there was no income in society. No production, no employment. No way for people to be independent and lift themselves out of poverty. And where there is no independence to plan a future, there’s no hope. It was honestly so heartbreaking to experience. I think when you see and know these realities, you can’t ‘un-see’ or ‘unknow’. It just changes you. I think the first seeds towards trying to create change were seeded then.

Is there a lesson you can take out of your own story that can exemplify what can inspire a young person to become an environmental leader?

Very simply put, I think traveling to other cultures and experiencing how they live is crucial. And it is important to do it while you are young. If you have a dormant ‘change-maker gene’, it is bound to be awakened. For my part, I discovered that I could use my privileges (growing up in a welfare society) to create change.

I have also noticed how change is born out of discomfort. When you’re ‘ok’ with a situation, there’s no motivation to create a change, because you are comfortable enough to continue down the path, you’re on.

So, if you want to be a leader, learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Welcome emotions like frustration and discomfort. Because they spark ideas. My favorite poem from Rumi is called ‘The Guest House’ and it sums up this idea beautifully:

“This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honourably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.”

Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?

Our DNA is to create awareness around the UN Global Goals. We do this by creating beautiful jewelry that is designed around each goal, and the aim is to inspire our customers to THINK, LIVE, and BUY more sustainably. Our jewelry is therefore produced within the framework of the Global Goals, which means that all materials are recycled, our artisans have decent working conditions, and receive a fair wage according to the Living Wage Index. We are working on becoming carbon neutral, and we plant a tree for each order. We produce in developing countries, allowing the artisans to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. We want to contribute to a circular economy, to create welfare for people whilst putting minimal strain on the earth. I hope to encourage our customers to ask questions about How & Where their consumer goods are produced. They have a vote with their wallet and can create change just by choosing to buy a little differently.

Can you share 3 lifestyle tweaks that the general public can do to be more sustainable or help address the climate change challenge?

There are so many small tweaks we can make in our everyday lives.

Taking a shorter shower or shower every other day.

Reusing your shopping bags and stop your use of single-use plastic.

Eat less meat (the gasses emitted from livestock are significant)

Walk, bicycle, or take public transport when possible.

One of my favorite sayings is: “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.” It’s about incorporating The Global Goals into your life, so they become a natural part of all the hundreds of decisions you make every day.

Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview: The youth-led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.

I have four kids, and I find it’s a balancing act managing the toxic media, creating massive climate angst, which has been proven to paralyze people with fear, rather than rallying them to action.

Inform! https://withlovedarling.com/pages/we-the-people Information is key. When we know what we are facing we can plan and execute. Our children need to understand which challenges we are facing, to respond accordingly.

Empower! Make our children understand that they CAN make a difference. It’s rarely about having the right resources, but rather about being resourceful. And it’s about having a mindset where you are part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

Educate! Knowledge is power. If we are armed with knowledge, we can learn how to solve the problems we face.

Innovate! Encourage our kids to think creatively and out of the box. The challenges we faced must be approached through innovation and abstract thinking.

Vote with your wallet! Ask questions about where your consumer goods are produced, by whom they were produced, and under what circumstances. We need people to demand higher and better standards.

Be an example. I think parenting is all about being a good leader, and as such, we need to inspire and guide our children to tackle the challenges we are facing, and we need to lead by example. My mother always said: “Children can survive all manner of catastrophes, as long as their parents lead the way”. I think there’s a lot of truth in that.

How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?

I think storytelling is hugely important because people luckily care increasingly about sustainability and our environment. With Love Darling tells the story about The Global Goals and our mission and values behind the brand. Our customers want to join us on our journey to make The Global Goals a reality, and they want jewelry that is produced responsibly and sustainably. They are searching for transparency in production, and we offer that. In a way, you can say that we have found our tribe or audience if you will, and that is our road to profitability. To be on a shared mission with our customers and serve them as best as we can.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My parents definitely seeded the desire to make an impact. But the person who has made all this possible is my husband. He’s extraordinary in so many ways. He understands business and money better than anyone I know and has advised me on almost every move I’ve made. But he’s also very good at calculating and managing risk. As an entrepreneur, you have days of incredible highs and lows. The risk can feel overwhelming at times. My husband understands the ebbs and flows and knows how to ride the waves. I doubt I would have the courage to sail this ship on my own. I also feel that there is a certain amount of serendipity involved. From the minute I decided to pursue this mission, I have been lucky to constantly surround myself with kind, smart and hardworking people, know things I may not, and were happy to share and help. Everyone I work with is an expert in their field, and I’m constantly learning and evolving. I always say that it’s between people that real magic happens and With Love Darling is a prime example of that.

You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire EVERYONE to know and adopt the Global Goals. In Scandinavia where I’m from, the Global Goals are integrated firmly into all education, and everyone knows them. So, when people buy our Global Goals collection, it because the designs resonate and emphasize a belief they already have adopted. In North America however, not very many people are familiar with The Global Goals — YET! But when we go to trade shows etc., people love the jewelry designs because of the story behind the pieces, — and that way they learn about the Global Goals. I dream of becoming a huge brand because when we are, we will spread the message of the Global Goals so much further, and maybe even help create change.

Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?

I’m a big fan of Jane Goodall. She has said many wise things, but one of my favorite quotes of hers is: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” We use this quote on our boxes because we wish our customers to reflect on the differences they have the power to make.

What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?

You can find us on Instagram and Facebook @Withlovedarling! Please stop by!

This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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