We’re proud to share the stories of some of our valued partners, diligent and talented artisans from around the world.
Alaffia \ah-la-fee-uh\ is a common greeting or valediction originating from Togo, Benin and Nigeria and it means a state of peace, health, and well-being. Alaffia was formed in 2004 to alleviate poverty and empower communities in West Africa through the fair trade of Shea butter and other indigenous sources. Proceeds are returned to communities in Togo, West Africa to fund community empowerment and gender equality projects such as Maternal Health & Equality, Alaffia School Projects, Bicycles for Education and Reforestation Projects. Some of the tangible results have been over 7,482 bicycles donated, shipped and distributed to 60 different villages, the retention rate for student recipients is in excess of 90%, with an annual passing rate of 92%, and reduced teen pregnancy rates in rural villages.
Balizen offers home décor items using handmade textiles and natural fibers available in Bali. Company owner, Andrea Phillips and her husband Nyoman live and work in Bali and the USA, along with their two children. Nyoman, a Bali native, has a strong commitment to preserving the Balinese culture and helping to move Bali into a green and sustainable future. Balizen uses ecologically sustainable natural materials such as bamboo, vetiver, capiz shell and organic cotton. Everything is handmade by village artisans, or in the Balizen in-house fair trade workshop with the smallest carbon foot-print they can manage. Balizen is a registered fair trade company and Fair Trade Federation member.
In Zimbabwe, children with disabilities and their families are often shunned by society, and by their extended families. This social isolation and the lack of community often cause these families to spiral into extreme poverty. In 1998, fourteen mothers of disabled children formed a support group in Harare. Their talent for embroidery inspired them to begin making handicrafts to provide a sustainable income for their families. The group creates embroidered and painted fair trade handicrafts for the international market. Product sales have allowed the group to expand to its current size of 100 members. It is self-managed by a committee of seven elected members. The group makes decisions as a team and is proud of their level of cooperation. During the last 5 years they have purchased 2 houses for their daycare, physical therapy, workrooms, office, and housing for 3 families. The center provides hot meals and a vegetable garden for the members and children working there.
Chicago-based Bright Endeavors partners with young moms battling homelessness and poverty by teaching them to craft premium soy candles in a supportive, professional environment. Through their paid job training program, Bright Endeavor provides the guidance and job skills young moms need to secure quality employment and begin working toward professional success. Every candle is another opportunity for a young mom to move closer to her goals.
Craft Link is a Vietnamese not–for–profit fair trade organization that helps traditional craft producers to revive their culture and improve their livelihoods through handicraft production and marketing. All craft groups meet basic criteria such as fair wages, environmental and employee safety and preference is given to producers who are marginalized or disadvantaged, such as ethnic minority people in remote areas, street children, and people with disabilities.
Escama Studios is a Fair Trade social enterprise based in Brazil and California that is committed to improving the quality of life for the members of their cooperatives. Their flagship product is a sleek, handcrafted line of bags and accessories made from recycled aluminum pop tabs. With designs originating from San Francisco and Brazil, the bags are hand-crocheted in Brazil by artisan cooperatives who are not just contract manufacturers, but an integral part of the studio.
MESH is a Fair Trade organization based in India that works with disabled artisans from 12 producer groups all over India. Their mission is to provide opportunities for disabled people and people affected by leprosy to achieve social and economic integration and self-sufficiency by trading. They also assist in developing a sustainable market for the products beautifully crafted by the artisans.
REFUGEE ARTISAN INITIATIVE
The Refugee Artisan Initiative is dedicated to improving the lives of refugee families. This Initiative is supported through sales of wearable goods made by trained refugee artisans and donations to Mimi Globe Goods, a non-profit company based in Seattle, WA and founded by Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman. Mimi Globe Goods empowers stay-at-home immigrants and refugees from Bhutan and elsewhere with the skills to design, make and market handcrafted jewelry and accessories while earning livable wages.
MR ELLIE POOH
Mr. Ellie Pooh LLC is an eco-friendly Fair Trade company based in Sri Lanka that creates exotic gifts and paper, partially out of elephant dung. Elephants in Sri Lanka are being killed at an alarming rate. The company hopes are that such an initiative will self-educate the villagers into living and working with, and respecting the elephants. With this new mindset, their gentle giants can blossom into a cultural asset rather than a local threat.
Together we are working to end native homelessness. Native Works exists to better Seattle’s homeless Native American community. By crafting authentic jewelry, and in partnership with its parent organization, The Chief Seattle Club. Native Works honors native tradition while fostering a healthier native future. Each piece of jewelry is handmade by a local apprentice, and 100% of proceeds go directly to providing meals, mental healthcare, drug and alcohol counseling, housing referrals, legal consultation and more to those in need within Seattle’s native community.
NEPAL WOMAN CRAFTS
Nepal Woman Crafts is a small Kathmandu-based manufacturer and exporter of traditional textile goods, and handmade paper and paper products. The paper products are made from lokta, found at high altitudes in almost the entire Nepalese Himalayan region. This women’s group uses their hand-made paper business as a vehicle for promoting income and entrepreneurial abilities among Nepalese women.
Ngwenya Glass’ charming complex is set in large indigenous gardens and is considered one of Swaziland’s/Eswatini’s major tourists attractions! Here a small group of Swazi craftsmen and women – with age old artistry – breath life into enchanting interpretations of the animals and birds of Africa, imbuing each with its own irresistible personality. Ngwenya Glass only uses recycled glass – mainly old soda bottles for each of their handmade and mouth-blown pieces. People from all over Swaziland collect bottles and are paid per pound for clean glass. Ngwenya must be the cleanest area because any bottle that catches the attention of local children finds its way into the factory!
Prosperity Candle is a fair trade social enterprise based in Massachusetts that supports refugees and artisans through candle-making and beautifully crafted vessels easily refilled or repurposed for a lifetime of enjoyment. Every candle is hand-poured by a woman artisan using the highest quality waxes, natural cotton and wood wicks, and premium fragrances made with essential oils.
PROVAIL is a recognized leader in the field of supported services for children and adults with disabilities. They create tailor-made programs to suit each person and address the needs and concerns of family members as well. PROVAIL and its staff are lifelong partners and resources for each client and their family, dedicated to exploring all the opportunities available so that people with disabilities can fulfill their choices at every stage of their life. Largesse is privileged to have worked with PROVAIL on projects, such as having our countdown boxes or gift boxes professionally shrink-wrapped by their fabrication division in Seattle.
Situated amongst historic coffee plantations in Tanzania, Shanga supports and empowers people with disabilities to live independent lives. It is a successful socially conscious for-profit enterprise, which employs over 50 people creating unique, high quality handmade jewelry, glassware and homewares, using recycled materials. Profits are reinvested into development of new products and further employment, as well as helping those in need through their own Foundation.
VillageWorks, a cooperative organization and certified member of the World Fair Trade Organization, started in a small village in the Baray District of Kampong Thom Province Cambodia in 2001. It creates employment and provides skills and livelihoods to women and young people. The focus is on handicrafts produced in villages using indigenous materials, native implements, and simple craftsmanship, and artisans are taught the value and meaning of work. VillageWorks is committed to restoring the human spirit in small villages and empowering people to stand tall on their own.
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