I wanted to take a moment to wish all of the amazing mothers out there all across the globe a Happy Mother’s Day! I spent the day with my wonderful husband and awesome sons, who now in their 20’s, treated me to the most incredible brunch I’ve ever had. I was reveling in the joys of motherhood and how grateful I am to have raised such gracious, socially responsible and thoughtful young men.
My husband and I spent yesterday vending at a festive event in Jamaica Plain, MA, (near Boston) called Wake Up the Earth, an annual festival with music, food and crafts celebrating the beginning of spring. We had a blast and Women’s Peace Collection’s mission and products were well received. What moved me most were the young boys/men and girls/women buying gifts for their mothers. I watched and listened to kids of all ages carefully selecting gifts that were not only beautiful for their moms but that were meaningful. These young folks had clearly been raised in socially conscious families and delighted in giving their moms something made by impoverished artisans, knowing they were helping others with their purchases. I do have hope for the next generation!
And of course there were numerous husbands and adults doing the same thing (yes, lots of last minute shoppers!). I truly do believe that most people love helping others and if we can all do so with our purchases by supporting fair trade artisans this world will be a better place for all.
Last but not least, I think of and cherish my own 82 year old mother and recall all that she has done for us. When it comes down to it we human beings just want to love, help and support each other........don't you think?
Did you know that International Women’s Day has been celebrated across the globe since the early 1900’s? Every year on March 8th the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women are celebrated and honored. This year’s theme is:
Will you be bold with us? Our mission at Women’s Peace Collection is to empower women all over the world by supporting their creative enterprises through fair trade practices. To us, every day is International Women’s Day, but we love to celebrate on March 8th with individuals and organizations who share our dreams for a world based on equality and inclusiveness for all genders.
Each year Women’s Peace Collection chooses an organization to support on International Women’s Day that we feel is bold in its efforts to help women achieve their goals and dreams. Last year we donated a percentage of sales to Dining for Women, one of our favorite non-profits. This year we are donating to International Sanctuary, another stellar organization that rescues women from human trafficking. Their mission is “to empower people escaping trafficking to embrace their true identity and worth.” Isanctuary provides the following services to the women they work with: counseling, job training, employment, micro-loans, education, scholarships and medical and dental care.
Much of The jewelry in our Freedom Collection is made by the women that Iscantuary is working with. Their pieces are simple, elegant and contemporary and are some of our best selling items. After being rescued, the women are taught jewelry-making techniques, which provides them with a lifelong skill and thus helps prevent them from future sex trafficking. Isanctuary is truly saving lives and empowering young women to achieve their dreams of a life of freedom!
We hope you will join us in being bold for change this year, supporting women in whatever way you feel moved to. Thanks for being on this journey with us.
Alas, another year has passed and we are thrilled with the growth and achievements of Women’s Peace Collection. A look at our website will quickly glean that we have increased our collection multi-fold. One of our objectives for the past year has been to focus on sourcing fair trade products with a specific cause attached to them. While everything we sell is fair trade and thus helping marginalized women and families across the globe, we have in our hearts a deep need to help certain groups.
The first area we expanded is our Freedom Collection, which consists of jewelry made by survivors of human trafficking and those at risk of being trafficked. We were fortunate to discover new NGO’s working with women in India and China who are teaching them to create stunning, affordable jewelry. The new groups, Isanctuary and Starfish Project, rescue the women and then offer them safe shelter and counseling, and teach them a trade to reduce the chances of them being trafficked again. These are highly successful programs and happen to be our best selling collection of jewelry!
Another new favorite is our From War to Prosperity Collection, which consists of jewelry made from melted down artillery shells in Ethiopia. The farmers find the bullet casings scattered across the fields from former wars and a large fair trade cooperative consisting of HIV positive women handcraft the jewelry. The designs are unique and gorgeous and the cause fits perfectly with WPC’s mission to help eliminate poverty and create peace in the world.
We also expanded our Hear My Voice Collection of jewelry, handmade by deaf women in Kenya. Deaf women have an 85% unemployment rate in Kenya and are shunned in their communities, thus severely limiting opportunities. Our collection of wrap bracelets and stunning brass jewelry have been great sellers and we look forward to expanding the line in 2017.
I’d like to offer a huge thank you to all of our loyal customers – both online and at festivals – for your ongoing support of our mission and artisan partners. Here’s to an even better fair trade 2017 for all!
Since October is Fair Trade Month I thought it was a perfect time to write about an important topic - Fair Trade vs. Free Trade. I often hear people refer to fair trade as free trade, assuming the two are one and the same. Fair trade and free trade are actually quite different in both intent and execution. With the presidential election around the corner one of the hot topics lately has been trade. For example, the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the latest proposed trade agreement, involving 12 nations in Asia and the Americas.
The Fair Trade Federation, our membership organization, recently published this chart that illustrates the difference between these 2 types of trade.
Hopefully this will clarify some of the confusion around this issue. The graphic below is another wonderful illustration of what fair trade is all about so I wanted to share that too. And I'm always available to answer questions or talk more about this topic that I am so passionate about.
On a beautiful fall day we arrived at Bentley University in Waltham, MA, to see a large tent filled with vendors for the third annual Fair Trade Day. Bentley is largely a business college and the Service Learning Program is incorporating fair trade into the curriculum. This was Women’s Peace Collection’s second year as a participant and the event had grown significantly since last year. The crowds were bigger and there were many more vendors selling everything from fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate and a variety of beautiful crafts. And of course Ben and Jerry’s was there giving out free ice cream.
What impressed me most were the students. They were excited about shopping for a cause and asked thoughtful questions about how we source our products, what percentage the artisans receive, what makes the items fair trade, and so forth. Our new jewelry collection made by survivors of human trafficking in India was the best seller of the day – not only are the pieces beautiful but these young students loved the idea of helping the women who made them and were touched by the tags which say “made with love” and signed by the artisan. They were buying for themselves and for loved ones and clearly understood fair trade and its impact. And incidentally, I met a professor who teaches a sociology course on human trafficking – Bentley is on the ball!
We have participated in fair trade events at other colleges, including Siena College in Albany, NY, and Worcester State University in Worcester, MA. I absolutely love being at these events. It’s thrilling to meet students who are passionate about making a difference in the world and who understand fair trade as a vehicle for change. It gives me hope for the next generation and for our planet.
I just love summer. I can’t get enough of the warm, sunny New England days - swimming in our stunning lakes, hiking with my dogs and hopping on my bike. And of course – summer festivals! For years my husband and I attended music festivals and craft fairs all summer long as spectators, and now we spend most weekends with our Women’s Peace Collection booth, selling our fair trade handicrafts. We've been out in the hot sun, the rain, tropical winds and the perfect summer day - and it’s a blast!
The only drawback to selling primarily online is that we don’t have many opportunities to meet our customers in person. So this year we decided to be more visible and get to know our customers better. At festivals and fairs all over New England, from Cambridge to the Berkshires, we’ve met amazing people. As an extrovert there’s nothing I like more than schmoozing with people, so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed talking with people from all walks of life about fair trade. And once again, I’m humbled and delighted by the response we consistently get not only about our products but about our mission. The truth is people love to help other people! Both women and men, over and over, tell us how they love buying gifts with a purpose (for themselves as well). More people than ever are asking for cards that describe their purchase so the recipient can know the story behind it (and we’ve listened and are now providing them whenever possible).
And we’re carrying more products with particularly interesting stories, such as the jewelry collection made from melted down artillery shells in Ethiopia and our new jewelry made by survivors of human trafficking. And while it’s wonderful that so many people already know about and understand fair trade, it’s also very exciting to educate people who want to learn more. I just love hearing parents explaining to their children that the item they just bought is helping a woman out of poverty.
Soon we’ll be heading into fall where harvest festivals abound but for now I’m soaking in the summer sun, surrounded by all of my beautifully handmade fair trade crafts.
As Mother's Day approaches I thought I'd write about why Women's Peace Collection focuses on fair trade products handmade by women. There are so many stunning fair trade handicrafts out there these days made by both women and men that it’s very hard to choose which ones to add to our collection. Our goal is always to choose gorgeous, high quality products made by women or families that have a cause attached to them. Our mission is simple – offer our customers the most beautiful, meaningful, sustainable products we can find that help women and families live a better life.
There are specific reasons we focus on working primarily with female artisans. First, it has been shown over and over across the globe that if you invest in women they put the money to good use – educating their children, providing nutritious food for their families, gaining access to quality health care, and starting savings accounts. Studies show that women invest up to 90% of their income back into their families, whereas men on average invest 30-40%.
Did you know that 70% of the world’s poorest people are women? Astounding, isn't it? So investing in women and helping them earn a living wage is one way to help alleviate poverty. And rather than just giving money in the form of donations, investing in a woman’s skills and talents gives her a way to support her family in an ongoing manner.
Selling women’s crafts through fair trade also helps reduce other social issues facing women. By empowering them through the sale of their handiwork and teaching them business skills, women gain greater strength and power in their marriages. Domestic and sexual violence against women is rampant all over the globe, but when women earn a viable income they are less vulnerable and have more decision-making power in their relationships. It has been shown that in some communities domestic violence decreases as women's earning power increases.
Having said all that, we do carry some products made by men. For example, our hand-carved wooden spoon collection from Guatemala is made by a group of highly talented, socially conscious men. These men donate 10% of their sales to female elders in their community to help with healthcare and other needs. Some of our products are made by family groups, where for example the men may do the wood carving while the women paint the designs. And the women are often the ones managing the business side of the cooperative. We carefully vet the sourcing of all of our products, so when we do carry products made by men we ensure that women and children in the community are benefitting.
Yet again, our passion for fair trade is hopefully evident. We sell beautiful treasures handmade by talented women whose lives are improving as a result of their expanding marketplace. What’s better than that?
Happy Mother's Day to all the amazing women out there!