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Conversations with the Inspiring Jackie Bilancia Costello

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jackie Bilancia Costello.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Along with running this business, I am also an occupational therapist. As much as I love my job, I felt and still feel like I was meant to do something more. A few years ago, I was shopping for Christmas and stumbled upon a few companies that were being very transparent about working with artisans, paying them fairly and giving them safe working conditions. Because these companies were mentioning the good things they were doing, I had to assume that the companies I have been shopping at consistently were not. But unsure, I started researching and was so disappointed with the information and statistics I found. Garment workers in Bangladesh are making less than ¼ of a livable wage. In Guangdong, China women work 150 hours of overtime per month! I have heard enough. Suddenly, I could no longer shop at these companies like Forever 21 and H &M for clothes. I could no longer be making these poor choices that effect other peoples lives half way across the globe.

In addition to learning about these new ethical companies, I have traveled a lot on service trips over the years. I always left the trips feeling like I wanted to help the artisans or people I met. But once you leave, it seems unanswered to how you can still do that. Specifically, I did a mission trip to Mexico City when I was in college. We were working with girls from vulnerable families placed in a home. Meaning their parents had abused them in some way or could no longer take care of them and provide. Often, these children younger than 10 were working or begging for money. When I left, all I could think of was them on the street trying to get money for food. There was nothing I could do about it.

Fair trade became an answer to that desire, to still want to do something effective. Fair trade provides parents with a liveable wage so that their children can go to school and not work. These children will no longer be on the streets begging for money. These are some of the reasons I opened my own company and how I changed my lifestyle from a fast-fashionista to an ethical consumer.

Has it been a smooth road?
Of course, the journey is never easy when you are changing your lifestyle or when you are going after something that is changing the world for the better. What comes to my mind right now is this quote I have been seeing a lot “The most dangerous phrase in the language is ‘We’ve always done it this way.'” This is really hard for me to hear because the way we have always done it involves slavery, bonded and child labor. Some of the challenges I have faced is that people don’t want to hear what’s actually going on. I usually start to tell my customers that “everything we sell is fair trade meaning the people behind our products are protected with safe working conditions, no forced labor, no child labor and a fair working wage”. I have had people literally say to me “I don’t care” and in my head, I go “WHY NOT!”

We do not get to chose where we are born and what opportunities are given to us. Our choices really affect people all over the globe and we need to be better for them.

My advice for young women is to find your passion early. Go after it with everything you have. We only have one life and the world needs more people that are fired up about things that matter. The world is a beautiful place but we can make it better by every choice we make every day. If you have an idea that you are passionate about, go after it with fire. Find mentors. Read books. Learn constantly.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Golden Rule Boutique story. Tell us more about the business.
Every single item shopped from at The Golden Rule Boutique is the fair trade. The people behind the products are protected with safe working conditions, no forced labor, no child labor, and a fair working wage. All of our apparel and accessories focus on environmental awareness. We are named The Golden Rule Boutique because the “Golden Rule” is to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”- meaning treat people the way you would like to be treated. This is all anyone wants. We are always thinking about who made our clothes, jewelry, and handbags. They are the reason we do what we do.

We are proud to be the only fair trade shop in San Diego focusing on slowing down fashion. The only boutique that is the completely fair trade. You do not necessarily have to look at the label when you shop with us because every brand we carry is a brand you can trust. Of course, you can learn more because every piece has a wonderful story behind it!

Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
I have been on several services trips over the years. I have so much empathy for others. I think a lot of difficulties people have are because of the cards they are dealt. I am no better than anyone because I grew up in New Jersey with a wonderful family. It’s just what I was born into. I am truly blessed. Being on these service trips and traveling the world helped me see how blessed I was and am, but it also made me angry at the world for not doing something about it. There is so much poverty in the world and I have seen it up close and personal. These parents want to keep their children in school and want to take care of them. Most charity based services don’t work, even though they have good intentions. Parents want dignified work, not charity.

When I struggle with pushing my business forward, I think about all the families I have met over the years. They are the reason that I continue to push every day and continue to educate as many people as I can about fair trade.


  • our prices range from 20-150$

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Image Credit:

Elegantees, Threads Worldwide, Elephant Pants

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