SA Weddings recently attended the launch of Relate bracelets’ online store and celebration of their 1 millionth bracelet sale. Now for those of you who don’t know, Relate is a 100% not-for-profit social enterprise which creates opportunities for unemployed men and women through the making and selling of beautiful hand-beaded bracelets. These hand-beaded bracelets make for gorgeous and thoughtful wedding favours whilst also giving back to the community and supporting a charity of your choice.


Lauren Gillis, the co-founder of Relate, started Relate in 2009 with the initial intention of helping women build their self-esteem and confidence. She wanted to find a way to connect people to a cause and to each other, and began her search for an opportunity to make it happen. 

That opportunity came in the form of Rob Brozin, the CEO of Nando's. Gillis approached him about making bracelets in the Nando's brand colours for their 21st birthday. The idea was to donate proceeds towards his chosen charity, which was the United Against Malaria project. Together with Brozin, Gillis created the very first cause bracelet. It was launched during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, sold through the Nando's stores and it was a huge success. Relate Bracelets has maintained its relationship with Nando's and through the United Against Malaria bracelet, has managed to donate a total of $600,000 towards the Global Fund, helping to prevent malaria in Africa. Today, Relate has collaborated with more than 52 causes, helping charities and NGOs raise funds and awareness to support their CSR initiatives. Relate is an example of how individuals buying a bracelet amounts to a big and tangible impact on people's lives. 

Relate has made a commitment to sustainability and transparency which is represented by the "R" bead on every handmade bracelet. Through every single stage – from the manufacturing through to the selling of these special bracelets – various opportunities have been created to change the lives of hundreds of people, young and old! All the proceeds of the bracelet sales are shared between three elements. 

1. Approximately a third of the proceeds of each bracelet are donated to a participating charity close to your heart. This could be, among others, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, which runs a number of conservation programmes; the Reach for a Dream Foundation, which fulfils the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses; the Amy Biehl Foundation, which offers programmes to develop and empower youth; or Ikamva labantu, which helps vulnerable and orphaned children.

2. Another third goes towards up-skilling and supporting the bracelet makers – the beaders and the finishers. The beaders are a group of elderly township-dwellers whom of most support entire families, including AIDS-orphaned grandchildren. This activity at their local club provides the elderly with an opportunity to connect with others and gives them a sense of dignity and purpose. The finishers are young adults who have big dreams for their future, but simply need an opportunity. A portion of bracelet proceeds is invested into enabling them and others to learn new skills and grow in confidence so that, in time, they can move beyond Relate to achieve their personal career goals.

3. The final third pays for materials and running costs of making the bracelets.

Favouring your guests with a Relate Bracelet is a great way to add further meaning to your special day. Relate's bracelet stacks give brides the opportunity to choose a style and a cause, with the signature stacks, with the cause stacks, so your bracelets support a charity organisation that is close to your heart. The guests wearing the bracelets can connect, not only to you, the bride, but also to the cause of choice – making the bracelets a beautiful and heartfelt favour for your wedding guests. 

You might have seen the Relate bracelets at the pay points of various retail stores including Woolworths, Clicks and YDE. Different stores sell different bracelets – each supporting their own charity of choice. However, thanks to the launch of Relate's online store, customizing, ordering and buying your individually packaged Relate bracelets in bulk are as easy as pie. The bracelets cost a mere R35 per bracelet at a minimum order of 1 stack of bracelets (10x bracelets). 

We encourage all our brides-to-be to stack and share your favourite Relate bracelet with your wedding guests and wear the change you want to see in this world!

This article was first published by SA Weddings, click here to read the original article.