Jewelry on display at APSE, located downtown, on Sept. 30. // Photo by MacKenzie Dexter
Polished silver and gold jewelry laid throughout All Peoples Shackles Exchanged (APSE) catching the afternoon light and the eyes of bypassers. Hayley Boyd and Jarod Faw, both Western alumni, sit inside their downtown shop inspecting and creating pieces while warmly welcoming customers.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but the local Bellingham jewelry shop works to end sexual and domestic violence through their business everyday. Every piece of jewelry sold sends 10% of its profits to three organizations: Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (DVSAS), Fight the New Drug and A21.
APSE offers jewelry that gives the feel of classic and quality with a homemade touch. While their jewelry brought attention and new collections since they opened at their downtown location two years ago, Boyd and Faw pride their business on integrating charities that help educate people about sexual and domestic assault as well as working towards ending it.
“We realized that [by] making products and doing wearable things, we could also impact people outside of the art world,” Boyd said
About a year after Boyd and Faw graduated from the fine arts program at Western, they got married and left their jobs to pursue their own business and explore their creativity. Boyd said when she was a student at Western she would repurpose and redesign discarded items she bought from thrift stores into wearable items. This led to the inspiration behind APSE, wearable and unique quality jewelry.
“It was kind of cool to have this revelation of what a business can be and that it can be really artistic and also really stand for something and have a lot of integrity and impact,” Boyd said.
Boyd and Faw both have a passion for social justice, which influenced their decision to integrate charities into their business. While each charity is different, they all want to educate and prevent sexual violence. Ten percent of the profit made from a piece of jewelry is split between the three organizations, Boyd said.
“Whether it’s a general fear people have or a trauma or what is perpetuating it, it was just something our hearts really broke for,” Boyd said.
DVSAS is a local nonprofit organization located in Bellingham that offers free services to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual exploitation, according to Amber Icay-Creelman, 24-hour service manager of DVSAS. Services, medical help, shelter and support groups, are available to all those who need it, Icay-Creelman said. Volunteer positions for DVSAS are also available along with events that help the DVSAS continue their work.
“DVSAS is always looking for volunteer advocacy counselors, front office volunteers and event volunteers,” said Jessica Heck, development director at DVSAS.
Heck also said that a great way to support the DVSAS is by listening to and believing survivors of sexaul and domestic violence.
“They have so many volunteers, so people know and are willing to join in on that cause too,” Faw said.
According to Boyd and Faw, APSE and DVSAS have collaborated in the past to create two necklaces. They are engraved with the yucca flower and the yucca moth to symbolize the relationship between the two.
“At first, it was my hope that I could source some ideas and inspiration from their support groups, however, the reality of collaborating on a piece of jewelry presented itself to be a little abstract” Boyd said. “I took to my own inspiration, created these necklaces and the story of security behind them, sent the samples back to the support groups to review, and they loved them.”
According to Faw, 50% of proceeds from the engraved yucca flower and yucca moth necklaces go to DVSAS.
APSE also did a collaboration with Fight the New Drug, a national organization that educates people on the science behind how pornography impacts mental and social health.
“In many of their campaigns, they use the ASL sign for ‘I love you’ as a statement that love conquers all, and I thought it was the perfect piece to introduce,” Boyd said. “And again, 50% of the proceeds goes directly to educating the next generations about how pornography has been scientifically proven to affect our mental of societal health.”
A21 is an international organization that works to bring attention to sex trafficking. According to Faw, A21 not only rescues individuals from unsafe and exploitational situations, but they also prepare and educate people after they have escaped their unsafe situations.
According to Boyd, the financial support helps nonprofits work to educate and rehabilitate individuals directly involved in the cycle of abuse.
Boyd and Faw also discussed how the Bellingham community encourages them to continue their vision and creativity. Since the lease on their current location is almost up, Boyd and Faw considered leaving Bellingham, however, they learned that community members appreciate their business and are loyal to them.
In a recent survey they sent out, Boyd said one of the top three reasons people purchase from their brand was because of the percentage of profits that go towards ending sexual violence.
“It is the final clicker for a lot of people,” Boyd said.
Boyd said business is about serving people and doing what is in the customer’s best interest.
“I think there are a lot of creatives in Bellingham seeking out other creatives, so we felt like Bellingham is worth investing in,” Faw said. “We never run out of people we can meet and that we can be in community with.”
Even while Boyd and Faw considered leaving Bellingham for a bigger city, they realized that creativity is in their control here.
“No matter where we are, we can travel, we can go get inspired, we can leave, but there’s something really special about being in a town that needs this kind of thing,” Boyd said.
After their lease is up at their downtown location, they plan on moving into a new Bellingham location and expanding their team. According to Boyd and Faw, the main focus of the shop will be their jewelry, with the occasional pop-ups from other local artists.
“It’s our hope that the pieces our customers walk away with build them in the truth of who they are, what they deserve and prevent them from ever doubting it,” Boyd said.