Path of Paper reycles paper into empowerment!

Path of Paper began in 2007 when Kathryn O'Grady joined the Peace Corps, after graduating from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. As a Peace Corps volunteer Kathryn was stationed in the dusty town of Iganga, in the eastern African country Uganda. While there Kathryn worked with a great non-governmental organization and was introduced to the Gemakumyino Women's Group. It was love at first sight! The women involved in the Gemakumyino Women's Group are hardworking, artistic and were waiting for the opportunity to use their abilities to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Hence, POP was born.
Path of Paper uses recycled paper to create beautiful jewelry, purses, bowls, bracelets etc. These products transform waste into empowerment and income for the lives of women in Iganga, Uganda.
When you buy from POP, you are not only are you buying a beautiful quality item, but you are supporting real women with real needs.
Thanks to our board of directors, UAOWF, and the vast network of women and men worldwide who have helped make this a reality.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fair Trade Certification propels POP forward

As things would have it, the announcement that POP was approved to join the Fair Trade Federation could not have come at a better time.
 My co-founder and mother, Cyndi O'Grady, received the exciting email the night before coming to visit me in Brooklyn. I am totally flabbergasted, that what I had once believed was my mothers far fetched dream is now a reality. 
Needless to say the move has motivated us to plunge back into POP with a new vigor and attention. Cyndi's determination and perseverance taught me that hard work does pay off and that we have the ability to make a significant positive impact on the lives of the women, and community, who once showed me complete kindness.
Growth can be scary, but not trying is even more so. 

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and watch out for the many new updates to follow.
As always thanks to all our supporters, without whom we would not be here today. 
Webale inho,
Kate O'Grady
POP co-founder

Fair Trade:

Eco Trends:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

written by:
Kathryn O'Grady

Hey all! 
It has been quite a while since I've updated, but that doesn't mean POP hasn't been making progress and growing. Actually a lot has been shaking!

 On May 11th Path of Paper participated in the annual craft fair at Blair Middle school for the 4th year in a row. ( yikes, has it been 4 years!?) Again we have to thank the dedication and selflessness of Deborah Davis, who invites us to this fair each year and is willing to go outside of the box to engage her students and community. I personally have to thank my mother for (wo)manning this table each year! She risks sun burn and this year, fought high winds in order to generate an income our producers in Iganga. I am always amazed at my mother's dedication to the Gemakumyino Women's Group. She has put in so much time, money and care into this project, all without asking for anything in return. 
I have to give a special shout out to my grandmother who also worked the table this year.  Perhaps our society has gotten soft with time, because my grandmother has more spunk and heart than I. This years fair was the day before Mother's Day and while most mothers and grandmothers were getting ready for a day of flowers with their feet kicked up, the matriarchs in my family were intentionally connecting women and girls internationally. 

Also in the beginning of May we submitted our application to become Fair Trade certified. Cyndi and I worked really hard on this application, and we have all our fingers crossed! We're very confident that POP's methods are fair, ethical, and honor our Peace Corps beginnings, but having the stamp of Fair Trade certification would open a lot of doors for us. One of our continued goals is to increase our marketability in the states, in order to increase the range and depth of our impact for our producers in Iganga. The initial stages of development, while incredibly difficult and challenging for me personally, were also very organic and somewhat obvious. There is a group of women, mostly widows, who live next door to me, and whose need for income and empowerment is apparent. So, with the aforementioned amazing mother and few Peace Corps inspired tricks up my own sleeve we were able to address an immediate need.   Six years later ( am I really that old??), the producers have control and independence in their ability to send shipments, receive payments and have a good understanding of our long and short term goals and abilities. So the time has come to go beyond fixing the immediate need and ask questions about what comes next. We need to create a more secure way to ensure the market for our producers, we need to look beyond their immediate need for money and ask ourselves and them what is needed NOW to continue to empower and improve the lives, and health of our producers and their families. We are listening to what the producers say they need in order to improve their lives, and we are continuing this conversation so that it moves forward ethically, intentionally and effectively. These are needs and opportunities that require a different level of thought and attention. Add this to the fact that I now live 7,000 miles away from our producers and work a full time job, and you can understand why I have to give so much credit to every other amazing woman involved in this organization. So distance and time are our new challenges, but Skype, email and my peace corps memories are our weapons. 

Weather or not we gain fair trade status, we have a few other short term and long term goals on the horizon. Just some of our short term goals include:
 a. posting and selling our products on Etsy. Keep an eye out!
 b. applying for the New York City General Vendors license.  Look out New York; I will be hawking on the streets!
c. improve communication with producers in Iganga, as well as our beloved consumers! Thank you technology.

Longer term we are hoping to find and sustainably switch to a non toxic varnish, which will have a lesser impact on the environment as well as have less of a smell- which is better for everyone! We are always looking for new opportunities and locations to sell POP, and ways in which to better our product. We have a few possible opportunities, but please feel free to chime in if you have any ideas or opportunities! Lastly, and I cannot emphasize this enough, we are working on maintaining and increasing communication with POPs producers. My center of communication in Iganga is Akusa Muguwa, and since day one she has shown incredible drive, forethought and generosity. I would give anything to be able to speak face to face with our group, but since that day is still a ways off, I am using my creative resources to catch up more frequently. It is sometimes surprising how far a quick update will take you. Hence the blog update!
 A special shout out goes to Valerie Kresse who selflessly sells beads in Wisconsin, and Maureen Lewis who continues to be a big supporter. As always thanks to Lisa Lyman-Speckheuer at Eco Trends in Virginia Beach, who currently sells Path of Paper products, next to other amazing international and locally sustainable handicrafts!
A sincere thanks to everyone who has supported Path of Paper: from reading the blog, liking our status' on Facebook or purchasing something at a craft fair; your involvement goes a long way and your support keeps us motivated!

Webale inho. 

To learn more about Fair Trade:

Eco Trends:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


This week my mother and co owner, Cyndi, traveled to see me in Brooklyn, New York. We wanted to spend some time working face to face together on Path of Paper developments. We have begun shifting gears, and looking into becoming a non profit organization. Very exciting! We sat in sunny Prospect Park and created a business plan for the next 3 years!!

We also talked bylaws, vision, budget, and market expansion. There are a lot of great things on the horizon for Path of Paper, so look out for more to come!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

New products up on facebook!!

Bowls! $10

These are just two of the great new catalogue pictures we have up on facebook. Thanks to Ashley Smith's keen eye and quick hand, we are going to be making huge strides in selling online! So email, message or comment and we'll deliver what you'd like! Helping Ugandan women just got a whole lot easier!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year!

As the new year is just around the corner, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the achievements of the previous year and give thanks for all of the fabulous support we've received.

This year marked the second year of my living in the states post Peace Corps. This is an important marker as its just about the same amount of time that I was in Uganda. We had a lot of technological advances this year: POP started this blog, a Facebook page, and Twitter and Paypal accounts!
Obviously, there was the euphoric trip I took to Uganda where I visited the women who became my family in Uganda( The complete blog update on that trip is coming I promise). Being reunited with the Gemakumyino Women's Group and UAOWF was really an indescribable joy. We spoke about a lot of great new ideas and I can't wait to get started on them!

What highlights did I forget? I'm sure there are a ton of them. The sales from Path of Paper have connected women and begun conversations. The Ugandan producers provide for their needs by creating a product with their own hands that is sought after and valued thousands of miles away.  They pay their children's school fees, rent on better housing, as well as cover health costs. Economic power strengthens ones ability to feel confident, make decisions and speak ones voice.

Next year we have a pretty high mark to meet, but I am foreseeing great things in our future!

I'd like to say a special thank you to my mother, siblings, all of my aunts especially Dee, Valerie and Maria. To everyone in the Gemakumyino Women's Group, UAOWF, Via Creativa Gallery and the Lyman family. To Ryan Villanueva, Alissa Walsh, Bobby Wermus, and Gregory Hoffman.

Happy New Year everyone!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Some pictures from Kate's visit to Iganga. large plates of local food. make the heart so warm . I'll soon post a longer description of my trip to Iganga, but for now I'll let these pictures do the talking!

Thanks to my brother Nicholas O'Grady for taking these fabulous pictures! Path of Paper has never looked better