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The beauty of Costa Rica on your wrist

Contributing Writer

Published: Monday, September 19, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02

Bracelets

Ever since she traveled to Costa Rica during her junior year of high school, Alyssa Taliaferro has felt a connection to the country's culture and citizens. Now, as a student representative for the company Pura Vida Bracelets, she has found a way to give back to the artisans and residents of Costa Rica who profoundly influenced her.

Taliaferro, a junior at the University of New Hampshire, spent a week and a half during high school traveling throughout Costa Rica, where she experienced not only the traditional tourist aspects of the country, but also the less visited, impoverished aspects as well.

Two days of her trip were dedicated to volunteering at underfunded schools for children with disabilities, which "changed her outlook on life," she said.

This past summer, Taliaferro learned of Pura Vida Bracelets, a company with the mission to improve the lives of Costa Rican artisans by selling their handmade jewelry throughout the United States.

Pura Vida Bracelets was founded a year ago by two friends who recognized the beautiful simplicity of a Costa Rican artisan's bracelets while they were vacationing there. They bought hundreds of the bracelets to bring home to California to sell. Sales quickly took off, allowing the artist and his family to move from a small shack to a more comfortable home.

Since Pura Vida Bracelets' inception last summer, the company has continued to expand, doing so by spreading awareness of its cause. The company uses campus representatives to make college students aware of its mission. Since becoming a representative in July, Taliaferro's objective has been to "make people more aware … that tourism doesn't bring in enough money to support the artisans and people who live and work there."

On campus, Taliaferro has relied on social networking as a resource to inform people about Pura Vida Bracelets. Along with creating her own website to promote Pura Vida Bracelets, she discusses them on her personal blog, and has also contributed to Pura Vida Bracelet's own blog.

She wants to "stress to people how easy it is to get involved," and to contribute to an organization that she truly believes in.

While supporting local artisans, Pura Vida Bracelets makes other contributions to the world as well. Because it "strongly believe[s] in giving back it donates 1% [of its sales] back to The Surfrider Foundation through 1 percent for the Planet," according to its website.

The Surfrider Foundation's website states its philosophy as "the protection and enjoyment of oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network."

The donations to the Surfrider Foundation are made through the organization 1% for the Planet, whose mission is "to build and support an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet," according to the website.

"One percent doesn't seem like a lot, but every bit helps," Taliaferro said.

In the past year since its founding, Pura Vida Bracelets has already made significant contributions in Costa Rica. The company can now fully support the food, clothing and shelter of 15 talented artisans.

Pura Vida Bracelets aims to expand and contribute even more than it already has. The company's ultimate goal is to recruit all the artisans of Costa Rica and get its beautifully hand-crafted jewelry on the wrists of everyone in the world, according to its website.

Pura Vida Bracelets are available for purchase on the website, and at select retail stores across the country; as of now, the bracelets are only available at one location in New Hampshire.

With the constantly expanding network of campus representatives like Taliaferro, Pura Vida Bracelets is on its way to its goal.

"It's hard to be here [and help], but I feel like [with Pura Vida Bracelets] you can help them there," Taliaferro said.

The phrase "pura vida," means pure life in Spanish and resonates with Taliaferro by reminding her of time spent in Costa Rica. The Pura Vida Bracelets mission "gives you a different perspective on life, [because] it's something that's bigger than you," she said.

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