Life has a unique way of being molded by the choices we make. Have you ever considered that one crucial choice that seemed unimportant at the time but had a massive impact on your life? When we ask ourselves this question, it makes us think about the parts of our lives where one choice can change everything. Meet Ian Bentley, whose choice put him on the road, and it lit a spark in the lives of many others.
A few years back, family meant the four of us – Ian, Brittany (his high school sweetheart and the best mom ever), and their boys, Parker and Clay (yes, their names came first). A seemingly insignificant news story on a quiet afternoon attracted their attention and created memories.
New research estimated 160 million orphans worldwide. Ian would stare at his children and think, “What if that were them?” A reality check, it started a family conversation about inequality, opportunity, and, most crucially, their lucky existence. This debate became louder, sparking significant changes: by 2020, their household would grow to six and their family to nearly 200.
They adopted their first daughter in Ethiopia in 2011. Ethiopia became their home in 2012. While residing in Addis Ababa, the capital, they adopted their second daughter. They witnessed what many American news channels would never cover. They observed many young women without education or opportunity in prostitution or human trafficking.
They worked with groups that rehabilitated, trained, and employed these women while living there. They were motivated by seeing these women and seeing how a teaspoon of chance can change lives.
Around the same time, Ian was looking for a birthday gift for Brittany and came across an incredible leather bag. The artisans’ craftsmanship was beautiful, and they learned this leather was not only ethically sourced but also some of the highest quality in the world. The cogs started to turn, and an idea was born – could they bring these beautiful products to the world, create jobs to empower vulnerable women to become economically independent, and protect traditional, sustainable, and ethical craftsmanship all at once?
In 2014, their family got some unfortunate news: one of their daughters needed significant medical attention. They moved back to the United States to address these complications, and this decision turned into an opportunity to take roots back in their hometown of Santa Barbara. They shared their vision about Parker Clay with a broader audience, and this platform for growth allows them to create even more employment and empowerment in Ethiopia.
Today, Parker Clay runs their own factory in Addis Ababa to ensure the highest production quality, implement sustainable processes, and create a safe and dignified workplace for their employees that has become like a second family. Their Center of Excellence allows them to start training and mentorship programs, advancement opportunities, and community events for their nearly 200 employees in Ethiopia. As they said, it begins and ends with family. Life lessons from Ian:
Ian Bentley’s journey with Parker Clay reminds us that our decisions can set off a chain reaction of change, no matter how small. It’s a journey that began with adoption but evolved into something more significant—a movement to create a better world. Remember, one decision can change the course of your life and influence an entire community.
In honor of this extraordinary episode, we are offering you the chance to win a PARKER CLAY TOTE BAG! This tote represents ethical workmanship and female empowerment.
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