Sisterhood means a lot to Debbie Lupariello, Melissa Henry, and Vicki Miller, who—if you haven’t already guessed—are in fact sisters. Though their family has always been close, sisterhood is about more than genetics for them. It’s about creating a community of women who are connected by a mutual desire to uplift each other and make a difference. The trio does just that through soHza sister Fairtrade Boutique, the store they founded in 2013—then exclusively online—with a mission of “helping women here by helping women there.”
Here’s how it works: soHza sister sells handmade jewelry, purses, and clothing crafted by women throughout the world and donates a portion of the proceeds to local nonprofits that empower women, putting the customer “at the center of change.”
“We were looking for something to do together as sisters to make a difference,” says Lupariello, who oversees the business’s marketing and financials. The idea for soHza sister stemmed from a handmade recycled-paper beaded bracelet that Miller received from a friend. “Because it was something physical, the connection to the story was more tangible. The person who made it felt more real because we were holding it,” Lupariello says. Now customers can “feel” the impact of their purchases in person at soHza sister’s first brick-and-mortar location, which opened in July on Main Street in Covington.
From leather totes made in Honduras to bracelets fashioned in Ecuador, India, and Vietnam, the shop offers colorful, beautifully crafted goods that you can’t find at big box stores. Henry, who manages merchandising (Miller handles creative and branding), seeks partnerships with sustainable, women-owned, fair-trade organizations that uplift women through advanced career opportunities, fair wages, and supporting education opportunities for their children. Locally, soHza sister partners with the YWCA, Girls on the Run, the Women’s Fund, and Women Helping Women, all of which support women and girls.
After facing challenges in 2021, including the deaths of their father and Lupariello’s husband, the sisters are thankful for the Covington and local nonprofit communities, which have embraced soHza sister’s new storefront. “All of our communities have wrapped their arms around us, and we’re super grateful for it,” Lupariello says. “And that tells you something: Women want to help women.”
soHza sister, 610 Main St., Covington, (513) 615-0447