After losing a corporate job in the computer industry last year, Julie Murphy realized that the tanking economy gave her more time for loftier causes.
The native South African, who now lives in Gulf Stream, discovered a business venture close to her heart: Jewelry that fights poverty, unemployment, and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
She began selling silver, gold, and copper bracelets, called bangles, made by workers in South African townships. About 68 percent of the proceeds go to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, whose programs work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. It's an urgent cause in South Africa, where 5.7 million people are living with the disease -- making it one of the hardest-hit countries in the world.
Plus, each bracelet bears the prison number, 46664, of Nelson Mandela, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning former South African president. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for his efforts to fight the government-mandated system of racial segregation known as apartheid. Once freed, he advocated for truth and reconciliation among his countrymen, as the majority-black population finally gained political power.
"The bangle is like wearing the embrace of Nelson Mandela," says Murphy, who is the sole marketer for the bracelets in the U.S., and does not get paid for her efforts.
Prices for the bangles range from $19.99 for the copper to $12,900 for the platinum version. For more info, check out the bangle's website.