Saturday, May 11th is World Fair Trade Day - a day to celebrate the artisans and communities who make our beautiful clothes, delicious coffee, favorite chocolates, admired home decor... and so much more! Their creativity and years of skilled technique are imbued into every detail.
The best way we can honor them is by making sure they earn a fair, living wage. Yet, sweatshops persist in more places than we would think. Too often a blouse or pair of jeans comes at the expense of textile workers who are overworked under exploitative conditions for very little pay. With the Fair Trade movement, passionate consumers and conscious brands are rising to put people and artisans first.
It starts with a simple idea: if you are shopping for a gift to empower yourself or someone close to you, that gift should empower the artisans who made it too.
Fair Trade symbols stand for these values and are out there to put your mind at ease. There are 10 principles and strict guidelines that ethically-made brands take care to follow in how a product is made. This means living wages, safe working conditions, dignified employment, and minimal environmental impact from sourcing to packaging.
As gift-givers the best thing we can do is to be sure the costs we save aren't at someone's expense in another corner of the world. Every birthday or holiday is an opportunity to make a positive difference for artisans and the ones you love.
To help get you started with finding ethical gifts, we put together some of our favorite fair trade and ethical brands that empower artisans and give back.
1. The Little Market
If you're looking for personalized gifts that empower women artisans, The Little Market is the place for you! Their online shop features fair trade totes, home decor, dining accessories, and custom candles that honor artisans and give back to communities. We love co-founders Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla's beautiful style and deep commitment to fair trade. Every ethically-made gift shares the story of those artisan partners and where they are in the world.
2. Fair Trade Winds
Partnering with small artisan workshops and co-ops, Fair Trade Winds is a family-owned fair trade shop dedicated to making a difference. They are committed to both supporting women artisans and global communities, and helping protect the environment with fair trade women's clothes, bags, and jewelry. Their eco-friendly gifts are curated mindfully to minimize their environmental footprint. Explore a collection by cause for a simple way to do good!
Oliberté went above and beyond to become the world’s first fair trade and B Corp certified brand for shoes. Each handmade boot, sandal, and wedge is ethically-made by artisans in sub-Saharan Africa who earn fair and living wages. They truly invest in their artisan community and use only locally sourced materials to give back to the planet. Check out their incredible collections to see how beautiful fair trade craftsmanship is!
4. Dean's Beans
We’re all coffee-lovers here, so we couldn’t be happier to have Dean’s Beans as our neighbor in western Massachusetts. Every bag of fair trade, organic coffee beans comes directly from co-ops in South America, Africa, Central America, and Asia that advocate for local growers. Their coffee sustains positive change for communities around the world. Find them at a local Whole Foods or in one of our ethically-curated gift sets to add a whole lot of goodness to your coffee routine.
5. Raven & Lily
Raven & Lily strives to empower women artisans with fair trade wages, education, and access to healthcare. Their beautifully handcrafted clutches, totes, necklaces and earrings are handmade by artisans in Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, Mexico, and the U.S. Because each is made with recycled and repurposed materials, their gifts truly "thread lightly on the planet."
For an elegant collection of hand-painted home and kitchen decor, we love visiting Serrv's online shop. Their fair trade store offers a simple and easy way to support small artisan co-ops and empower women artisans. Every purchase provides disadvantaged artisans and growers with a sustainable path out of poverty. They offer fair trade women’s clothes, sweets, and jewelry too!
7. Divine Chocolate
Divine Chocolate is co-owned by the 85,000 farmer members of Kuapa Kokoo, a cooperative in Ghana that strives to really empower growers. Each bar is made with 100% pure cocoa butter and Fair Trade certified ingredients for a delicious chocolate that is good for us and for each grower's livelihood! We love their Dark Chocolate with Toffee & Sea Salt and paired it with a candle for our Happiness Gift Set.
8. Ten Thousand Villages
If you like being able to see your gifts in person before choosing, then a Ten Thousand Villages shop might be the perfect spot. Just walk in and appreciate the diversity and global style of their fair trade home decor, jewelry and accessories. Every purchase helps support living wages and dignified employment for over 20,000 artisans in 30 countries. Definitely check out a Ten Thousand Villages if you're in the market for unique gifts with a purpose.
ABLE is putting women artisans first and striving to create radical change in the fashion industry. Their handcrafted jackets, shoes and necklaces are made by women globally with a focus on living wages, equality and safety. And while not certified Fair Trade, they are a certified B Corp and we love their mission of creating opportunities around the world to help end the cycle of generational poverty.
10. Prosperity Candle
Yes, that's us! We are passionate advocates for ethically made goods and support the fair trade principles of gender equity, respect for the environment, and living wages in our studio. Every Prosperity Candle is handpoured by a woman artisan who is creating a brighter future in the U.S. after living many years as a refugee. We are proud to be a certified B Corporation, and strive to bring about positive change and empower artisans at every opportunity.
Every purchase each one of us makes can have a positive impact on people and the planet. We know this list is only the beginning... there are so many more ethical brands out there making an incredible difference for artisans around the world.
Which ethically-made goods or fair trade brands inspire you to give back? Let us know in the comments below!
Top Image from Raven & Lily of artisans.
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