Upon launching Zeal Living out of her Westminster home five years ago, Caitlin Halberstadt returned to her roots—both cultural and entrepreneurial.

Born and raised in South Africa until she was 9 years old, Halberstadt uses fair-trade practices to import “home decor and jewelry with heart” from 17 countries across her home continent, then sells the unique goods in Zeal’s online shop.

“I see my job as a conduit,” says Halberstadt, who finds makers through her frequent travels to Africa, her longtime connections there, and even Instagram. “These artisans have all the talent,” she says. “I provide the connection to the U.S. market, and Zeal helps them care for their families and lift themselves out of poverty.”

A pioneering spirit fueled by passion is something of a Halberstadt family trait. Caitlin’s father, Johnny, was one of South Africa’s top distance runners, and in 1994, during the turmoil surrounding the end of apartheid, decided to move his family to the running mecca of Boulder, where he co-founded the Boulder Running Company. “From the time we were tiny, my dad told us, ‘Don’t just get a job. Make the life you want, and the work will follow,’ ” Halberstadt says.

Using her own savings and a family loan, Halberstadt launched Zeal (a name chosen for its “good, positive energy,” she says) in 2015 with a modest collection of jewelry, handblown glassware, and placemats. Her shop has since grown into a treasure trove of more than 30 categories of artisan-made goods, including handwoven plateau baskets from Rwanda, tasseled throw blankets from Morocco, handblown wine glasses from Eswatini, and feathered juju hats from Cameroon—all with rich stories to tell.

“Beautiful products are what draw people in,” Halberstadt says, “but the other half is the story behind each one—who made it, why it’s made that way, how it carries the energy of its maker—and those stories are naturally baked into my business.”