In addition to supporting a small Canadian business ( that's us! YAY!), you can feel good knowing that you're supporting artisans around the world. We proudly work directly or through partner organizations with over 22 different artisan collectives in 16 countries on 4 continents. Read more about our partners and artisans below:
Asha Handicrafts - India
Destiny Reflection - India
Fair Anita - Cambodia, India & Vietnam
Freeset - India
Friends Handicrafts - Nepal
Friends International - Cambodia
Global Groove - Thailand & Nepal
Mata Traders - India
Matr Boomie - India
Olivia & Diego - Philippines
Purpose Jewelry - India
Silk Road Bazaar - Kyrgyzstan
Sustainable Threads - India
AptecPeru is a World Fair Trade Organization member dedicated to providing market access for women artisans. Women from all walks of life come together to practice the traditional art of hand knitting, a skill that has been largely lost due to machine manufacturing. AptecPeru focuses on providing equal opportunity employment, fair payment, respectful treatment, and transparent supply chains to their artisans. They employ a diverse group of single mothers, grandmothers, students, and married women.
For more than 30 years, Artesania Sorata has helped to empower indigenous Bolivian women economically by providing them with artisan job opportunities. Over 100 women create hand-made, high-quality knit pieces, while practicing traditional and environmentally responsible methods of production. Artesania Sorata believes that improving self-esteem through creative economic opportunities can lead to an improved quality of life for artisans and their families. Education and healthcare services, including special services for the hearing-impaired, are provided to the artisans and their children through Artesania Sorata, in order to build a healthier, stronger community.
India has always been renowned for its rich silk fabrics, woodcarvings and carpets. However, many of these products are produced in conditions of abject poverty for the craftsmen, exploited by large producers and moneylenders. Asha Handicrafts is a not-for-profit making body, based in Mumbai, India, working to promote Fair Trade and Fair Trade practices. As a member organisation of The World Fair Trade Organization, Asha Handicrafts ensures that the benefits of handicraft production reach the craftspeople themselves.
Their story has been 12 years in the making. As the founder of an international youth humanitarian organization, Christal (their founder and CEO) had been working and learning from a local community of garbage dump workers since 2005 on the north coast of Dominican Republic.
Every day she worked at that garbage dump was an adventure in laughter, connection, and the hard truths about our shared humanity. There were, however, also a heartbreaking amount of tires.
In early 2017, the idea struck for the first time. Why not use tires for soles on beautiful hand made shoes - and create a way to help the most vulnerable people in the process?
The ability to ask a different question has led them on this journey that continues to expand and grow. It's not just their story, nor is it a tire's story. This is the story of a lot of people like you: people who know they want to be proud of what the do and what they wear. People like us know that we can do better. They also know we can look great while doing it!
Destiny Foundation, based in Kolkata, India, was founded with the mission to end slavery and sex trafficking through the economic empowerment of women. The Foundation comprises two divisions – Destiny, the charitable wing; and Reflection, the social business wing – which work in tandem with each other. Their aim is not simply to save girls from trafficking or sexual exploitation, but to make certain that they are not compelled to go back into the trade due to social and economic pressures. To achieve that end, Destiny Reflection recruits women from shelter homes and brothels, giving them training and employment opportunity. All their employees have been subjected to trafficking or are at high risk of falling prey to the process.
Their social entrepreneurship program strives to provide girls from underprivileged and vulnerable backgrounds a steady means of employment. The girls’ stint with the Foundation begins with on-the-job training conducted at Destiny, where they are taught stitching and embroidery among other skills. Once adequately trained, they are employed in Reflection, becoming a part of a formal work environment. Their products hand-made by their employees – a variety of bags, fashion accessories, stationery items, kantha and household furnishings made from silk sari fabrics and block-printed organic cotton – constitute Reflection’s signature collections. Proceeds from the sale of these products support the Foundation’s activities and ensure a steady income for the employed girls.
Destiny Reflections has been able to restore 100 lives, employed 75 women and provided them with fair wages, housing, health care and medical insurance support. They also assist a few independent individuals and women’s groups who work and produce goods in collaboration.
Fair Anita was built on a vision--
One where women and girls can grow up feeling safe, respected, and valued no matter their geography.
Fair Anita came to this vision through the simple act listening. In 2009, their founder Joy McBrien set out to learn about violence against women in Peru, which has one of the highest rates of reported domestic violence in the world. During the months she spent building a women’s shelter in Chimbote, Peru, Joy met many survivors of domestic violence and learned about their stories of survival and resilience. Each of these women expressed that jobs are the single most important resource for women experiencing domestic violence, knowing that sustainable income would help empower them to leave an abusive partner. Joy founded Fair Anita from the lessons she learned in Chimbote, and to this day our work remains grounded in supporting women’s resilience through responsive business relationships.
Freeset is a fair trade operation based out of Kolkata, India, that offers empowerment strategies for women trapped in the sex trade.
Nearly 250+ women have taken their lives back thanks to Freeset. They are trained, paid wages double to that of comparable employment, given a health insurance plan, a pension fund, education opportunities, and even free childcare. For many, it’s the first time they’re proud of their work. Employment with Freeset is based on the individual’s need and desire for a job, not their skill set. If that’s not enough, profits for Freeset are turned into funds to further grow the business, and to bring more women the opportunity of a life beyond the street.
Friends Handicrafts provides employment for Nepali women and sustains the ancient technique of felting. They use this method to create unique and vibrantly colored necklaces, bags, scarves, and children's gifts. Based in Kathmandu, Nepal, Friends Handicrafts' mission is to combat urban poverty. It supports skills-training and income-generation programs for 100 female heads-of-households living in and around the capital and provides access to education for their children, fostering a sense of independence in an otherwise marginalized population.
Friends International aims to reduce the number of children living or working on the streets by providing stable jobs and sufficient incomes to their parents. Extreme poverty takes children out of school and forces them into unprotected street labor, where they are at risk for HIV/AIDS, violence, and trafficking and prostitution. Parents who earn a fair living wage can provide for their children and keep them in school. In Cambodia, Friends International directly helps 1,800 children and families in through artisan employment, and supports 20,000 at-risk children through outreach programs.
Global Groove is a certified fair trade organization supporting and facilitating artisan co-ops in Thailand and Nepal. The Fair Trade industry is expanding and they are proud to be a part of a sustainable movement that is changing lives. They design, develop, produce and source fairly traded lifestyle products with a commitment to the sustainability of production and the cultural heritage of the groups that they work with.
Global Mamas creates hand-crafted accessories, apparel, decor, and skin care items using traditional techniques, maintaining local artisanal skills. Each product is full of life and love, and is crafted with the utmost quality. The producers in the Global Mamas network have worked together for over a decade in Ghana, West Africa developing products that resonate with consumers all over the world, and in-turn have created prosperity for themselves and their families.
GREEN GLASS CHILE
Started by college students in Santiago, Green Glass Chile reclaims and upcycles bottles into glassware. Some pieces make the most of the original deep jeweled colors of the bottles--accenting them further by etching natural designs like leaves and vines into the glass--while others incorporate patterns printed on the glass into the finished piece. Learning fair trade business practices from their parents, who have been engaged in fair trade craft making for many years, the entrepreneurs of this small business are poised to carry the fair trade principles into the future.
A small group of hand-selected artisans in Mexico and Guatemala serve as the base of the Hecho collaborative partners. These are incredibly hardworking, knowledgeable and creative individuals who are dedicated to their respective crafts, and upholding family and cultural traditions.
Respect, in-person communication, and development are important to the work that we do. Hecho collaborates with their artisan partners in order to streamline production processes and marketing potential. They also maintain a focus on visibility and the preservation of artisan art forms through positive shared revenue streams.
JEDANDO MODERN HANDICRAFTS
Working with more than 100 individual carvers in Machakos, Kenya, Jedando Modern Handicrafts markets african handicrafts primarily made of wood and bone worldwide. Carving is a tradition in Kenya with the children learning
the craft from their parents. Carved by hand using only rudimentary hand tools, olive wood bowls, salad serving sets, and animal-shaped napkin rings take shape from pieces of olive wood, mahogany, and mpingo, or
"African Ebony ".
An integral part of the organization's function is to educate the craftspeople on the need for reforestation to enable the products to be available for years to come and offer a sustainable income for generations. While wood carving provides the major income for many in the Machakos area, other craftspeople earn a living by further enhancing the products including painting the napkin rings and carving discarded animal bone for the handles of salad serving sets. Often the bone is "batiked " by placing wax on the white bone and dipping the bone a dark brown/black dye, resulting in patterns African mud cloth designs.
Just One is an organization that follows fair trade practices to offer world changing fashion. Each purchase directly supports people around the globe struggling with poverty and brings awareness to their
KIND KARMA COMPANY
A love affair with India has evolved into Mata Traders – a design driven, fair trade brand helping to end global poverty and inspire ethical companies and consumers to change the fashion industry. Made by artisans in India and Nepal, their colorfully original designs are now sold in 50 states and 12 countries, and provide a stable source of income for families in some of the world’s poorest communities.
Matr Boomie began in 2006 as a dream to create positive change through ethical, sustainable trade. Their founders, Ruchi and Manish, sought to relieve the extreme poverty in their native India by bridging the rich culture and potential of rural Indians and opportunities of the modern world.
Partnering with grassroots organizations and master artisans, unskilled women and men were transformed into community artisans. Manish and Ruchi personally ensured that the materials and processes used were safe for people and kind to the land. With the help of family, a team in India was established to guarantee efficient communications and high-quality production, and a team in Austin, Texas was gathered to design custom collections that delight, while honoring the culture and craft of Indian artisans. Over a decade later, the little company run out of Manish and Ruchi’s Austin apartment has grown into a leader and innovator in ethical, sustainable business.
Manuela Ramos provides artisan jobs to women in Peru's rural areas in addition to campaigning for women’s sexual, reproductive, political, social, and economic rights. The money earned from artisan work is sometimes the only source of income for the women at Manuela Ramos, many of whom live without electricity. Their creative knit work also earns them great respect within their communities, and around the world. The organization gives Peruvian women an opportunity to leave the domestic sphere and “build a relationship with the world,” so that they can realize their full potential and exercise their rights as women.
Naguska is a family-run organization that employs women knitters from the Peruvian highlands. For most of the artisans, farming is their main source of income, so leaving the home during the day to work is not possible. Naguska provides these artisans with the opportunity to supplement their income by creating hand-knit accessories from locally sourced materials such as cotton and alpaca wool. Naguska prides itself on providing constant work to hundreds of artisans, while using their skills to develop unique and modern products.
OLIVIA & DIEGO
Olivia & Diego is a social business that works with communities of stay-at-home mothers and human trafficking survivors to create upcycled jewelry made out of fabrics from discarded cotton-knitted t-shirts that are beyond repair and fabricated into woven ropes.
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice style to make a difference. PURPOSE Jewelry is beautifully crafted by young women rescued from human trafficking. By Purchasing with Purpose ® you are providing freedom, dignity and hope for these amazing artisans. Purpose Jewelry has worked with hundreds of young women around the world for the past 10 years. The art of jewelry making paired with holistic care ensures every artisan receives freedom and hope for the future. Holistic care is provided through their non-profit, International Sanctuary , and includes education, health care, and counseling. Their program provides every artisan with the life skills and opportunities to succeed.
Sasa Designs by the Deaf was started in 2011 to provide employment and fair wages to deaf women in Kenya. With an estimated unemployment rate of 85% nationwide, few deaf have ever had the opportunity to support themselves or explore their potential. Deafness in Kenya carries grave stigma that leads to deaf individuals being ostracized and in the worst of cases, abused. Upon joining Sasa Designs, a deaf woman becomes an artisan – carefully cultivating a skill set that grows along with her confidence. Sasa Designs' beaders are a group of strong and proud deaf women. Long taught to be ashamed of their "disability, " they have now been empowered through building a successful business and a community that lifts them up daily. With many single moms in the group, the next generation is going to soar, thanks to consistent wages, access to healthcare, and healthy food. A woman who has spent a lifetime feeling like a burden, can now take care of herself and her children. Sasa Designs is a catalyst for transformation.
Their workshop in Kenya employs 18 deaf women full time. The artisans of Sasa Designs by the Deaf have started a new chapter in their lives, working each day to build a better life: for themselves, for their children, and for our global community as a whole. Sasa Designs envisions a world in which individuals can benefit from participation in the global market regardless of their gender, geographic location or physical characteristics.
SILK ROAD BAZAAR
Silk Road Bazaar is a wholesale representative of marginalized artist groups located in Central Asia. They connect with artists who are far from the capitals, who have limited market access, who do not possess modern marketable skills but have carried on traditional craft culture.
Following the proverb, ‘the best way to know a man is to walk a thousand miles in his shoes,’ they believe that to know who they are working with and to understand their lives, they need to live like and with them. They live amongst our artist groups for an extended period of time. During that time they help them become self-sustainable by developing their designs, management techniques, quality control and computer skills.
All designs and collaborations are original works of Central Asian artists and Silk Road Bazaar.
Sustainable Threads is committed to cultivating long-term fair trade relationships with low-income artisan communities. The artisans they work with are scattered across India and face diverse challenges and social concerns. They have a specific emphasis on artisan cooperatives and groups employing marginalized women and aspire to provide these artisans access to fair wages, larger markets and secure, sustainable livelihoods.
Wakami is a fair trade enterprise founded in Guatemala by Cornell University graduate Maria Pacheco, collaborating with several rural artisan groups throughout Guatemala. A strong focus on community development, social entrepreneurship, and fair wages has vastly improved the lives of all the women artisans and their families. The idea behind Wakami is Dreams + Opportunities = Change.
Wakami works with its sister NGO, Earth Communities, which in turn provides coaching to the communities on business plans, craft training and anything else the women need to create and maintain a sustainable business. They have created a new concept, “Wakami Village,” which is a platform for change in the rural areas that provides the opportunity for all women to transform their lives, as well as their families’ lives and the welfare of the community. Wakami producers create woven jewelry that is sold in over 24 countries all over the world.
Job creation and women’s empowerment has had four great areas of impact in the communities, starting with family, education and nutrition where all children are monitored and checked; better living with clean water filters, solar energy equipment and organic produce; and community impact where everyone works on projects like improving roads, building parks and creating cultural spaces for everyone.