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Woman sells jewelry with POP
Effort benefits children in India
Chitra Subbarayan looks at jewelry. - photo by Jennifer Sami

For more information or to buy jewelry through the POP Jewelry Collective, go online at
Rotary Club International made an investment in Cate Powell.

The Atlanta resident received a $14,000 grant to study abroad in India as a goodwill ambassador. The plan was for her to absorb the culture and share her experience with Rotarians.

But that wasn’t enough for Powell. Instead of just learning about the culture in Hyderabad, India, she brought part of it back through the POP Jewelry Collective.

The self-sustaining handmade jewelry business, which she started in 2008, helps educate women and children throughout the impoverished region.

It exposes Americans to unique jewelry, but also offers fair labor costs to the women who design the pieces and returns 20 percent of its income to educating Indian children.

On Monday, Powell shared her story with members of the Rotary Club of Johns Creek.

“I am here as a living and breathing example of where your foundation dollars are going,” she said. “I really got a mind, body and spirit experience, which is what I call practical peace building.”

While an undergraduate at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., Powell began making and selling bead jewelry. She never thought of it as a career.

But in trying to find her place in India, Powell drew from her experience when she saw a couple of women making jewelry for pocket change. Their jewelry, which now sells for as much as $90 a necklace, is available at several shops and worldwide via the Internet.

Powell said the women string the necklaces and ship them directly to her. She sells the pieces at craft festivals, through jewelry stores and Rotary meetings.

She told Rotarians that she currently runs all aspects of the business.

“I wear all the hats. It’s entrepreneurship at its best,” she said. “I have a vision of a future that is so big.”

Club president Render Freeman said Powell’s story was important for Rotarians to hear.

“There are so many programs through the Rotary foundation for local organizations like us to tap into and make available to our young adults like Cate Powell.

“Sometimes the complexity is a little overwhelming, but it’s good to hear directly from someone like her, how it’s changed her life and how easy it was once she got the ball rolling.”

Freeman said he was inspired by Powell’s presentation to find a student in the community “who might have the pension for that sort of international service and make them aware of it.”

“Someone made Cate aware of that opportunity and she took them up on it and sort of took the ball and ran with it,” he said. “I’d like to make these opportunities available to the youth in the Johns Creek area.”