Nozomi, which means 'hope' in Japanese, is a social enterprise bringing sustainable income, community, dignity and hope to the women in Ishinomaki, Japan by training them to craft high-quality jewelry products. Nozomi women are creating one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry featuring broken pieces of pottery left in the wake of the tsunami and other up-cycled pottery. Each of our product lines has been named by a Nozomi woman in honor of a loved one in her life.
We have chosen there key words to describe our key values as an organization: community, restoration, and hope. These values are played out in the actual daily work we are doing, in teaming up to make beautiful accessories out of broken pottery. We also experience these values in our daily working relationships and the community aspect of 15 women doing life together.
Here is a brief summary of the history and current workings of the Nozomi Project from the perspective of our director, Sue Plumb Takamoto:
Our family is part of a team called Be One that moved up to Ishinomaki following the 2011 disaster. This team is composed of Japanese and American Christians whose desire has been to walk with the people of Tohoku and committed to seeing our community transformed.**
The first time I came up, I was cleaning out a park and began saving the many pieces of broken pottery. I thought, “What if we could make something beautiful from this devastation?" I couldn't shake that thought.
When our family moved up here from Hyogo prefecture, our children began attending the local elementary school. I was new in the area and was so grateful for the help of the local moms as we tried to get our family settled. Becoming friends with these moms was the impetus to try and start something... my new friends had lost so, so much. They needed a place to gather and find hope.
In July 2012, we started gathering women together to make accessories from the broken pottery. Hundreds of volunteers helped to gather the pottery. Several professional jewelry artists came and taught our staff. A web designer volunteer offered to help us get a website started. Our Be One team worked together with our different abilities to do the finance, computers, and behind-the-scenes work that it takes to pull off starting a company.
October 2, 2012 we officially began the Nozomi Project, selling our accessories worldwide and paying women an hourly salary to work. We couldn't make long-term promises, but our desire was that this would be a chance for women to find employment , community, dignity, and hope.
We have learned so much from our failures and our successes! We remain committed to balancing the two most important aspects of what we do: successful business and effective community. Teamwork is one of our core values. One necklace usually is made through the collective work of about 8 different staff. We have 15 local women who are divided into three teams: grinders, necklace makers, and administration.
We are committed to helping each staff grow personally and professionally.
- We conduct bi-annual reviews, where we each seek to grow and become better artisans, administrators, and teammates.
- We have had wonderful opportunities for staff to travel to Tokyo, Kansai, Hawaii, and LA on sales trips.
- We hold English conversation classes, parenting classes, seminars, and leadership training.
- The many international volunteers who come to shop and see Nozomi Project have become special friends to many of our staff.
We also desire to find opportunities to invest in our Nozomi families, with opportunities such as BBQs, kids' english programs, and other gatherings.
Each year we have been incredibly thankful to have made a profit from our sales! We have used this to model another core value, generosity. We have used this profit to: a) pay the women generous bonuses;b) donate 20% to local and international organizations, and c) set aside for the future of the Nozomi Project.
THANK you to the friends in various places who have helped us do what we do. It has truly been an amazing journey, and we are grateful for the many volunteers, friends, and experts who have helped make Nozomi Project better. And we love our wonderful Nozomi customers! You have bought and proudly shown off our jewelry, shared with your friends, and helped to spread hope around the world. We have now sold our products through the web to 30 plus countries! Thank you.
If you'd like to join our team in a new way, please click here to learn more about our Nozomi partner program. Thanks for continuing to spread the word through social media, by giving Nozomi gifts, and through your encouragement and prayers for us! It's been an amazing three and a half years.
Click here for interviews with some of our staff.
Click here for prior profiles and photos highlighting this amazing group of women.
**Part of this team works under the leadership of Team Expansion, a non-profit U.S. organization, through which we are able to accept donations in North America for the Nozomi Project.
Learn more about the Nozomi Project and the people involved by watching these videos:
Our latest three minute video that features our staff and their impressions of the Nozomi Project.
Here is our one minute commercial that shows what we do from the perspective of one shard:
Our staff share their favorite products:
Video made by Asian Access:
Video made by our friends Amy and Joseph Totsis: