Ladies and gentlemen, on this absolutely lovey #SustainableSunday, I am very happy to share with you another roundup of my new favourite fair trade shops. The last time I presented you with a shop roundup, I ended up with a few questions and I'd love to take this opportunity to answer them.
1) What is fair trade?
: Fair trade simply means that a fair price is paid for a finished good in a developing country. As you'll see, all of the fair trade companies I'm sharing with you today are companies that have rescued women from sex trade, slavery, or seek to improve the lives of people in developing countries by paying these artists a fair wage for the work they do in making these bags, clothing, and jewelry.
2) Why are you always going on and on about fair trade?
: Well, aside from the whole, giving people a way to make a living thing, to me, fair trade is a way to connect... with the world and with other people. I've written before that I've received compliments about the way I wear my clothes and about the way I put clothing together. I think that it is because I like to shop fair trade (or secondhand) that I've been able to cultivate a really global wardrobe. I like to wear things that have come from far away (that's the wanderer in me... if I can't wander, I may as well allow my clothes to wander to me), that have been touched by actual people in very real places (not machines in factories). These things tend to become conversation pieces that allow me to engage with other humans AND spread the word that there are wonderful people in less-than-wonderful places but that we have the power to help them improve their lives.
... now... on to my round up!
: Heshima Kenya : I was overjoyed to receive an email from this Chicago-based company asking if I'd like to give one of their beautifully handmade scarves a trial run. After learning that they are partnered with the Maisha Collective, a group of women in DR Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Brundi. My scarf arrived with a handwritten tag, stating that it had been made in the DR Congo... this was a personal touch that I really appreciated. I don't normally wear things that are yellow, because of my hair colour, but I am in love with the way the yellows and blues of my hand-dyed scarf blend together (and they are my school colours!). I love this piece because it is great as a scarf, but also makes for a great lap blanket or picnic blanket! No joke! This thing is versatile. I'll be wearing mine again this week and I cannot wait to share the way I've styled it!
: Ixchel Triangle : I found Ixchel Triangle on Instagram one fateful day in early April and I am SO glad that I did. I immediately fell in love with their huipil bags, handmade in Guatemala. Huipils are garments, traditionally worn by women in central Mexico and central America. They are beautifully handwoven and are generally quite expensive to make. Ixchel Triangle came up with the wonderful idea of recycling old huipils into handbags. They also work in leather and I was thrilled to receive a handmade leather fringe backpack from them. I love this piece because you can tell that it's been handmade, but my favourite part of it is the hand-beaded logo on the back! I may or may not be contemplating going back to school, simply so I can carry this backpack everywhere with me!
: Manos Zapotecas : This Oaxaca, Mexico-based company was another fabulous Instagram find. This tiny company (run by 5 women in the US) helps to market traditionally hand-woven zapotec bags around the globe. When my Gloria tote arrived in the mail, my jaw dropped. This bag is a thing of beauty. I brought it to work, I brought it to the store, I took it on spring break with me and everywhere I went, I received compliments! It is a durable, beautiful piece of wearable art!
: Mata Traders : Another Chicago-based company (yay!), Mata Traders is the brainchild of three traveling women who fell in love with the world and the idea that fashion can give people a brighter future. Every piece in the Mata Traders collection is handmade in India or Nepal and helps to fight gender inequality and child labor, makes a positive impact on the global economy and helps to preserve an art form (block printing). Between the block printed skirt, insanely comfortable floral maxi dress, epic jewelry, or the super fun dress that I haven't posted here yet, I think that everything about this shop is a win!
: Matter Prints : Here is a company that's all about being global! Their line of clothing is largely inspired by traditional Indian clothing, is woven or printed in India and then marketed out of Singapore! I was lucky enough to snag myself a sideswept dhoti, a type of clothing I'd never worn before, and I was in awe of the sheer number of compliments and questions I received about them. I kid you not, I was truly able to take myself on a mental vacation through fashion in this little number!
: Solo Hope : Solo Hope is a wonderful fair trade shop based locally in Georgia, but with a heart in Honduras. They have a wide range of jewelry and home goods, and were kind enough to send me their "In the Rough" necklace. This piece speaks volumes about using what is available and making something beautiful. It was, quite literally, handmade by a lovely woman named Glenda (who was recently widowed and has a large family to care for), out of a piece of volcanic rock picked up by boys in a small village. If that's not an inspiring story, I don't know what is!
: Sudara : Years ago, on one of my eco-binges, I remember having come across something called "Punjammies." In that particular phase of my life, I was on a shoestring budget and wasn't able to buy myself a pair, but the name stuck in my head and years later, as a fair trade fashion blogger, our paths crossed again. Sudara, the home of Punjammies, feels very strongly that no person, under any circumstance, should be a victim of slavery. The good people at Sudara offer a fair wage, education, emotional support, and child care to their artisans. I proudly wear my Punjammies (to work... to get coffee... to yoga... to bed) and am happy to tell anyone and everyone who asks about them the Sudara story!
... so there you have it! Another roundup of wonderful shops doing wonderful things! Have you shopped at any of them before? What did you think?