Raleigh non-profit hosts management students and faculty

During a mission trip to Rwanda, Cary Heise learned of an artisan group that took 30 prostitutes off the street and provided them with jobs; She was convinced the same model could work in Raleigh, so she began the process in 2017.

With her experience as an entrepreneur and the fashion experience of co-founder Kristen Sydow, they successfully replicated the Rwandan initiative and founded Designed for Joy in downtown Raleigh.

Designed For Joy provides women in crisis with stability through immediate employment and support, removing the stigma of vulnerability.

Their hope is for their artisans to find confidence in themselves, learn to trust community, and to grow in their faith while working with Designed For Joy. Their goal is for participants to leave DFJ with marketable skills and a solid job reference to succeed in the job market.

Students and Faculty recently toured the 5,000 square foot Designed for Joy facility that includes a retail shop, artisan studio where women work to make the jewelry, handbags and other accessories, and a community gathering space to host events. 

“Designed for Joy has been the most impactful business for me so far,” said Kacie Smith, a Senior Healthcare Management major. “There was a moment where I had to collect myself because I could feel Cary’s emotion and passion for what she does in this line of business so strongly. I always knew I wanted to work in women’s healthcare, but watching women helping women solidified my choice.”

“When I left I called my grandmother and explained my emotions. She then went directly to her website and bought something because she could feel my emotions through the phone. My grandmother told me ‘Kacie, God put you there for a reason and as a follower of God and a woman in ministry I feel called to support her mission.’ Thank you Cary for giving me the opportunity to not only learn from you and your business, but to feel God working right in my backyard.”

“Cary is a force for good in this region and it was great for our students to see social entrepreneurship in action. I’m looking forward to exploring other ways we can work with Designed for Joy,” said Scott Kelly, Director of Entrepreneurship and Instructor at the Lundy-Fetterman School of Business.