Meet Elizabeth Suda, Founder of ARTICLE22

There are so many challenges that we face as a global community, many of which are too complicated to imagine solving any time soon. Eradicating unexploded landmines is, on the other hand, so tangible that it’s hard to imagine we would let it go unresolved. Elizabeth Suda,  founder of ARTICLE22, has set out to do just that. We were eager to hear what inspired her to build a business around unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos. Partnering with local artisans to produce jewelry with scrap metal, their model is clearing land, building livelihoods, and saving lives one gorgeous accessory at a time.


The people and land of Laos suffered immensely during the Vietnam War. Tell us more about the impact that this conflict had on the country and why you felt compelled to act.

When I met the all women’s demining team of Mines Advisory Group, which clears unexploded bombs in the province where our artisan partners work, I asked the group leader what brought her to this work. Suddenly, she was silent, her eyes dropped, and tears streamed out. I didn’t realize that I had asked a very sensitive question. When she was 8 years old, her father was farming and hit an unexploded bomb with his hoe - and died. Today, she leads the 12 person women’s team to make land safe for farmers and school children as she lives every day with the memory of her father and motivation to help others avoid the traumatizing loss of a parent. We were all in tears - no one, including her team, had known this story. She had kept it hidden all these years.

Peacebomb jewelry is a sustainable solution - using an ingenious method that local artisans created to upcycle war refuse into usable, beautiful, and meaningful items that tell their own story to people across the world.

The Secret War is easy to dismiss or ignore — to many, it’s simply ancient history. However, history does not end with a date. Fort years later there is still a significant impact on civilians, including casualties and major constraints on livelihoods due to limited safe land. To date, less than one percent of contaminated land has been cleared. The presence of so many unexploded ordnances (UXO) makes it dangerous for civilians to build on or cultivate the land. This is a human-made problem that requires a properly funded human-powered solution. 

More than 70% of the Lao population depends on its land and many of those people are subsistence level farmers which means they eat what they grow. That really gives a different meaning to “farm to table”. They don’t have enough rice to sell at the market and earn disposable income. So, Peacebomb jewelry is a sustainable solution - using an ingenious method that local artisans created to upcycle war refuse into usable, beautiful, and meaningful items that tell their own story to people across the world and at the same time bringing them the disposable income they need to buy their child a bike to get to school, pay for books, uniforms, fuel, and phone cards.

You aren’t the first to think of repurposing war scrap metal. What is the history there and how are you building on this tradition? 

Up to 270 million bombs were dropped in Laos over nine years - 1964-1973 - including both iron and aluminum bombs.  The village in which we make Peacebomb jewelry was a battleground during the war and one of the most heavily bombed provinces. When locals returned from refuge in 1974, they found a crashed jet plane and detonated bomb scraps as well as unexploded bombs littering their village. They started melting the aluminum metal (low melting point) and transforming it into spoons to serve the local noodle soup while earning some disposable income. This local innovation literally cleared the land of detonated war scrap metal.  I was touched by how they transformed something so ugly into something useful and even pretty. This was creativity born out of necessity, design thinking, and a transformation story that was beautiful and meaningful that deserved global attention. 

The jewelry is our way of connecting this brilliant local innovation and development to the global market. ARTICLE22 connects 30 husbands and wives to fashion consumers across the world through the design and distribution of Peacebomb jewelry which tells a transformation story of negative into positive. Design is our tool to support artisan entrepreneurs and advocate for the clearance of UXO in Laos.


The most heavily bombed country in history, ARTICLE22 is a full circle operation — building beautiful jewelry from the scraps of bombs only to clear bomb-littered land with each piece sold. We’d love to know more about the life cycles of your products and the impact consumers can expect to have when they purchase ARTICLE22 jewelry.

Up to 270 million bombs were dropped in Laos over nine years - 1964-1973 - including both iron and aluminum bombs.  The village in which we make Peacebomb jewelry was a battleground during the war and one of the most heavily bombed provinces. When locals returned from refuge in 1974, they found a crashed jet plane and detonated bomb scraps as well as unexploded bombs littering their village. They started melting the aluminum metal (low melting point) and transforming it into spoons to serve the local noodle soup while earning some disposable income. This local innovation literally cleared the land of detonated war scrap metal.  I was touched by how they transformed something so ugly into something useful and even pretty. This was creativity born out of necessity, design thinking, and a transformation story that was beautiful and meaningful that deserved global attention. 

The jewelry is our way of connecting this brilliant local innovation and development to the global market. A virtuous circle, Peacebomb jewelry helps make land safe, creates jobs, and provides artisans with additional scrap metal to make more jewelry that will sell and clear more land - all while raising awareness among fashion consumers seeking beautiful and meaningful design.

Making ARTICLE22 designs, earns an artisan more than five times the local minimum hourly wage. We also donate an additional 10% on top of every order to the Village Development Fund so that they can pay for things like electricity in communal areas or tourist infrastrucure, all so that families who are not metalsmithing can still derive some indirect benefits from our work there. And finally, for each piece we sell, we donate to clear unexploded ordnance from the land in Laos - this is 10% of our cost to make each product.

The jewelry is our way of connecting this brilliant local innovation and development to the global market.

In addition to investing back in the Laos land, ARTICLE22 employs local artisans for all of its production and in doing so supports livelihoods and the local economy. From social and environmental justice, how have the values that you’ve built into your business influence other areas of your life?

I cannot help but see everything as connected. I studied history and art history - the Russian Revolution really made me see how connected the artists and writers were to the pulse of the people and the social changes that were happening. I think of design very much in this vein today - the power of the people is in our purse, possibly even more than our votes. We can demand things of big businesses and as a small business we can put thought into action.


What did your life look like before ARTICLE22? Is this where you thought you would end up?

Never! I didn’t plan to be an entrepreneur. It doesn’t surprise me looking back because I was always making and selling things as a kid. But as an adult, starting my own business was never a goal. But when I went to Laos - with the mission to understand local economic development initiatives within artisan communities and how they could potentially plug into global fashion companies - I thought I'd go on to get my Masters or go back and work for a larger fashion company. But when I saw how specific and special this artisan community and craft was, I realized that I had to start my own project grassroots style.


With so many options available to us, the choices and considerations can be very overwhelming. Tell us, what do you look for when you’re trying to purchase clothing and accessories responsibly and ethically?

It is impossible to be perfect. For example, we have to send our jewelry by air versus ship. We accept this because it is very fast and very secure. However, the majority of the materials we use are upcycled and we work in the most sustainable way possible when it comes to the environment but also when it comes to how we produce - artisans work from kilns in their beautiful gardens, behind their homes.

So, when I am shopping, I think about who made it - a local artisan or a trusted brand - as well as where it came from and how long it will last me.