Jessica Honegger began selling handcrafted, fair-trade jewelry to help cover the costs of adopting her son from Rwanda. Five years later, her fundraiser has turned into one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States—enough to rank 3rd on Inc.’s list of fastest-growing companies led by women, and 45th overall.

With 950 “ambassadors” holding in-home trunk shows to sell eclectic jewelry and accessories, Noonday Collection, based in Austin, brought in $11.8 million in 2014. All of its products are made by hand by artisan businesses in 13 countries.

The ambassadors are mostly Christian women, and take home a 20 to 25 percent commission. Like Honegger, a quarter of them are funding their own adoptions; last year, the company gave $120,000 to families in the adoption process. Others use the income to fund church projects, mission trips, or other charitable efforts.

“I launched Noonday Collection…not knowing that it was to become viable company but kind of knowing on the inside, in that deep place where God whispers to you,” said Honegger, 39.

Following a trip to Uganda in 2010, Honegger and her husband, who met while working for Food for the Hungry, felt called to adopt. With two kids already, she began selling jewelry made by Ugandan artisans for extra income. Honegger earned around $4,000 at her first trunk show, and before long, other women began holding their own parties and placing orders. Once her sales outgrew her capacity, she enlisted Travis Wilson, a friend with an MBA from Wharton and experience in microfinance, as co-CEO.

Even with a partner, a booming business, and help from friends, Honegger admits it wasn’t easy. She looked around for fellow Christian ...

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