Our director, Sue Plumb Takamoto, tells the story of how Nozomi Project got started:
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 who are 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 strewn about, thinking, “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. And it was quite a group effort! Hundreds of volunteers helped to gather the pottery. Several professional jewelry artists came and taught our staff. A web designer volunteered to help us get a website started. Our Be One team used our different abilities to do the finance, tech, 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. Collaboration is one of our core values. One necklace usually is made through the collective work of about eight different team members.
We are committed to helping each staff grow personally and professionally.
- We conduct regular reviews, where we each seek to grow and become better artisans, administrators, and teammates.
- We have had opportunities for staff to travel to Tokyo, Kansai, Hawaii, Singapore, 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.
We are still learning so much about business! But we have continued to keep our core value of blessing. We have used our profits to a) pay our women generous bonuses, b) donate to local and international organizations, and c) set aside for the future of the Nozomi Project. We continue our efforts to make Nozomi Project sustainable for the future of the Nozomi team.
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 online to over 40 countries! Thank you.