fair trade

Fair Trade Connects You with Other Cultures

Fair Trade is the Key

Fair Trade products are unique to the culture of the place they originated from.  Every creation reflects the identity of the people behind it and that what makes fair trade products extra special.  Supporting fair trade products from all over the world means that you’re helping to keep the traditions alive in these places – making sure that their culture will continue to thrive for more generations to come.

Fair Trade, Artisans and their Culture

artisans of costa rica

From metal artworks from Haiti to Abalone shell jewelries from Mexico – every product reflects the creativity and culture of their people.  In one of my trips in Costa Rica, I met a couple of artisans.  One with his pottery works which are amazing and another woman artisan with her beautiful beadworks.  One of the reasons why I came up with The Green Seahorse is to help artisans like them to promote their products in a bigger market and give them the opportunity to compete in the global market.

Exposure to artisans’ products connects us with different cultures through their artworks and practices while also bringing awareness about global poverty.  What can get better than supporting cultural works, enjoying beautiful and delicious products and alleviating poverty at the same time?

So the next time you need to go shopping or if you are to re-decorate your house or you need gift ideas for friends and loved ones, consider looking over the works of these artisans.  Bring life to your collection with a touch of different culture and exceptional creativity while feeling good about yourself for being a conscious consumer.

Fair Trade Products

costa rica artisanWhenever you choose to purchase these products (from handcrafted pieces to delicious produce) over their counterparts in the market, it means that you’re supporting a community somewhere else in the world.  That means that these communities will have funding for projects that will help the poor member of the community such as clean water, health clinics, and even educational opportunities for themselves or their children.

I believe that fair trade helps not only the artisans and their community; it also protects the environment and improves commercial trading.  As we continuously raise awareness about the importance of conscious consumerism and how our purchases affects the environment and other people – we can then expect a better and improved trading practice globally and that is all because of fair trade.

Handcrafted Artisan jewelry

Paving the Way for Artisans in the Global Market

IMG_4185Being an artist myself, I have also faced challenges in marketing myself into the marketing world.  After all, I’m an artist, I create art works.  Creativity comes naturally – an innate thing.  But then I realized that marketing is the opposite of what art is for me. Perhaps it is, too, for artisans all over the world.

A Humble Beginning

After a lot of learning – studying the ins and outs, patience and perseverance I venture off from teaching arts to starting an eco-friendly business centering in Fair Trade products.  Being the eco-activist/artist/mom that I am – I’m immediately drawn to the very idea of creating incredibly beautiful products through recycling or upcycling or by simply using already available resources.  Furthermore, I’m impressed with the idea of helping artisans from practically all over the world to better their lives by simply aiding them to market their products.

Speaking from experience, creating may tend to be the easy part for creative people, marketing our creation is the challenge.  It was then that I started reaching out to artisans in the hopes to widen their opportunity to capture a bigger market through the internet.  By introducing them the benefits of internet marketing – increased exposure, wider demographic reach, accessibility and simplicity of exchange – I intend to help these artisans brave the global market.

Artisans in the Global Market

Artisans from Cambodia, India, Haiti, Mexico and other parts of the world – offers products that are not only environmentally conscious but are also rich in creativity (displaying their craftsmanship) and originality (bearing a touch of their respective culture).  Small villages in developing countries, through the help of Fair Trade cooperatives or other non-profit organizations are able to produce products that are worthy of their place in the global market.

These fair trade cooperatives and other home businesses by artisans will not foster in any way if they can’t connect to the consumers that demand for such products.  It’s all about directing and connecting the artisans in the global market to have a fair chance in capturing the conscious consumers out there.  Inevitably, there will be no need for supply if they can’t create or find the demand in the market – the very reason why these artisans need help in marketing themselves.

The Green SeahorseOftentimes, consumers will readily choose their products over their counterparts if given the opportunity.  But how can they choose among products A, B and C if they are only presented with products A and B.  A lot of consumers are beginning to think more consciously about their purchases and will opt for ethically produced products anytime if given the chance.  What these artisans need really, is to promote themselves and make their products available for the choosing.

An Artist on a Mission

As I connect to these artisans, teaching them the benefits of making use of the computer technology and internet in marketing themselves, I believe that I’m on the right path to helping them in my own little way to attain success in empowering themselves economically.  By providing them the platform from where they can display their products and bring attention to their creations, these artisans can readily brave the global market and take a fair chance in the international trade.  Surely, a big step towards a better life for these artisans‘ families and communities.

supports local communities,women empowerment

Empowering Women Through Fair Trade

It’s undeniable that gender inequality is still a global issue, more so for developing countries where such problem contributes to the worsening cases of poverty.  It’s the opposite of women empowerment, women are left powerless to better their lives because they don’t only lack the opportunity to do so but also left to endure unfair treatment brought upon by the society or culture.

Gender Equality to Empower Women

According to UN Development Programme, when gender inequalities are reduced, more children go to school, families are healthier, agricultural productivity improves and income increases.  Safe to say then, that investing in women is the best way to resolve global poverty and promote prosperity. Sustainable communities will only exist if we empower the very women that hold the family together – it’s about women empowerment.  Only then we can begin to expect meaningful changes in the community.

women economic empowerment

Aside from the cultural aspect, some women are not able to break free from poverty because they lack the resources or capital, the education or training to improve their craftsmanship and the market or platform to promote their products or produce.  This is livelihood projects such as fair trade cooperatives, informal organizations and Fair Trade companies will play a big role.  They provide the women (as well as men) from small villages of developing countries, exactly what they needed to enable them to work they way out of poverty.

Women and Fair Trade

Through Fair Trade, women are given the opportunity to work in a safe environment, enjoy fair treatment and rightfully reap the benefits of their hard work. Fair trade companies are bound to fulfill the Principles of Fair Trade, and principle 6 clearly states that it is committed to ensuring Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment and Freedom of Association.  It says:

The organization does not discriminate in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/Aids status or age.
The organization has a clear policy and plan to promote gender equality that ensures that women as well as men have the ability to gain access to the resources that they need to be productive and also the ability to influence the wider policy, regulatory, and institutional environment that shapes their livelihoods and lives. Organizational constitutions and by-laws allow for and enable women  to become active members of the organization in their own right (where it is a membership based organization),  and to take up leadership positions in the governance structure regardless of women’s status in relation to ownership of assets such as land and property.  Where women are employed within the organization, even where it is an informal employment situation, they receive equal pay for equal work.  The organization recognizes women’s full employment rights and is committed to ensuring that women receive their full statutory employment benefits. The organization takes into account the special health and safety needs of pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers.”

Women Empowerment

Women empowerment will ultimately mean a better life for the family – where women can provide or support the basic needs of the family such as nutritious food, decent and safe shelter, and health care if needed and in some cases even education.

It’s safe to say that empowering the women means empowering the society as well.  Promoting Fair Trade and its principles is a big step towards gender equality and women empowerment.

women empowerment 2

*Photos courtesy of www.undp.org

Handmade expressions

NOBUNTO: A Fair Trade Company for the People

Nobunto, a South African Fair Trade company based in the small village Napier east of Cape Town, means ‘for the people.’  The name is befitting of the company’s mission to better the lives of the people in the community by providing employment to over 18 families in the hopes to alleviate poverty.

Handcrafted Fair Trade Products

Nobunto responsibly creates high quality handcrafted products such as candles, ceramics, gift cards and recycled jewelries.  They showcase not just their craftsmanship and creativity but their culture as well through the evident African inspired designs of their products.  The company assures that they abide with the 10 Principles of Fair Trade by the World Fair Trade Organization or WFTO.  Each product is made with respect to the customers, artisans and to the environment as well

The company aims to provide these people with a livelihood that will improve their economic condition in a sustainably, ethically and socially responsible way.  It’s not just about having a steady and predictable source of income but to make a living while respecting everything else around them. They make use of recycling, use sustainable resources and make environmentally conscious decisions whenever possible.

Fair Trade and the People

Having a sustainable employment is important to ensure a better future for a family, more so in a region where there is a 50 percent unemployment rate.  Needless to say that Nobunto does make an impact in the lives of its workers.  Mostly women, Nobunto’s workers reap the fruits of their hard work while enjoying a safe and fun working environment alongside their fellow artists and craftswomen and craftsmen as well.

Fair Trade is Hope

This Fair Trade company does opens the door for these African families to have a fair chance in the trading market where they can offer their responsibly made products, ensure a better future for their families and become a well-meaning member of their community.  Supporting their fair trade products does mean supporting a better life for them and making but another step in resolving poverty.

South African Artisans

Photos courtesy of  www.nobunto.com

supports local communities,Global Mamas

The Women of Ghana Goes Global

There is no denying that gender inequality is a global problem and is a major contributing factor in the worsening poverty condition all over the world including the women of Ghana.  Women are oftentimes treated unfairly in the work environment, if not denied access to a decent job employment or education at all.  Sadly, this oftentimes cause women to lose confidence that they, too, can create a difference and make changes in their own lives.

Empowering the Women of Ghana

In Ghana, two women from North America, Renae Adam & Kristin Johnson, and a handful of Ghanaian women gave birth to Global Mamas in 2003.  Defying gender inequality, the 6 women of Ghana and the two Americans empower women by giving them greater economic independence through livelihood projects that will grant prosperity to African women and their families.

The Global Mamas are mothers, wives, grandmothers, sisters, talented entrepreneurs and leaders in their communities who work wholeheartedly to bring forth unique and high quality products worthy of international fair trade.  They use traditional techniques with each hand-crafted item.  Their products include kids and adult’s apparel, accessories, home décor, jewelry, ornaments, shea butter lotion, shea butter soap, black soap, bulk shea and other accessories – these are through batiking, recycling (Beads and Plastics) and Shea butter production.

Love your Product. Know your producer.

One of their tag lines read: “Love your product.  Know your producer.  Change her life.”  This is exactly what it means for them to have their product in the fair trade.  This is a life changing endeavor for the women of Ghana.  It gives them the opportunity to enjoy a steady, predictable income in a work environment where they are protected and respected.

Sustainable Employment is Empowering the Women of Ghana

Because of Global Mamas, the women of Ghana are starting to find their voice and place in the community.  Finding economic independence through sustainable employment allow these women to enjoy a prosperous life – providing nutritious meal to the family, sending their children to school and seeking health care when needed.  And as we continue to support their products we also continue to change their lives.

artisan women of Ghana

*Photos courtesy of: www.globalmamas.org

Brass pin

Oil Drum Art: Proudly Haitian

Fair Trade Oil Drum Art

Haitian metal artists are widely known for producing beautiful art pieces – from three dimensional masks to wall hangings to jewelries – all made from oil drums.  Carlo Brutus and Eugene Jacques are only two of the many artisans from Croix des Bouquets – the wholesale Haitian metal art capital of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  Carlo and Eugene showcase their craftsmanship and artistry through their innovative oil drum art.

Oil Drum Artists

Eugene Jacques was trained under well respected masters of steel craft in Croix-des-Bouquets.  The exposure from the works of such amazing artists coupled with his innate artistic talent allowed Eugene to become the metal artist that he is now.  His metal artworks are known not just for the unique style but for the accompanying story behind the art as well.  Each of his oil drum art works bear personality and daring vision with many of them being one of kind pieces.

Eugene Jacques

Carlo Brutus on the other hand trained under Gary Darius and older brother, Jean Closter Brutus.  He eventually opened his own workshop in 1994 so that he can produce his own oil drum art with his own style.  Carlo’s primitive style of work reflects his reverence for Georges Liatud, whom he regarded as an important man in his memory.  Today, Carlo’s designs are influenced by the natural world and mythical creatures.  Apart from his genuine love for the work, he acknowledged the fact that it is his security as well, stating that he appreciate the job orders that he gets because it means a better life for them.

Jean Carlo Brutus

Promoting Haitian Metal Artists

Haitian metal artists, such as Eugene and Carlo here, can also be regarded as an eco-artist producing green arts.  They use their craftsmanship and artistry to participate in the fair trade to better their lives and support the environment as well by recycling used oil drums (which need to be imported into Haiti).  Whenever these artisans opt to recycle for their oil drum arts, instead of the cheaper and readily available steel sheets, they’re also choosing to protect the planet.  Making use of the already existing materials, through recycling or upcyling, saves our environment from further depletion of natural resources.

*Photos courtesy of www.haitifairtrade.com

fair trade farming

Fair Trade: Going Green with Organic

Organic foods are becoming the trend now for health conscious people – that is, healthy conscious people who can choose to eat healthy and can afford to do so.  It’s a sad truth; organic food is more expensive than their conventional counterparts.

Is Organic More Expensive?

There are many factors contributing to the higher price of organic foods, but we can also think of other ways to incorporate as much organic foods as we can in our family’s diet.  Educating people to become a conscious consumer can make a monumental shift in the trend of demand and supply of products in the market.  Conventional foods are flooding the market – shelves after shelves after shelves – basically because people are buying it.  With more and more organic produce in the Fair Trade we can hope to bring some sense of balance or changes in the way producers conduct their commercial trade.

Organic Fair Trade Products

Fair trade goods or produce do not necessarily render it organic because Fair Trade Certification doesn’t require organic certification at the same time.  But since the WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization) holds

Photos courtesy of   www.huilerieemilenoel.com

Photos courtesy of www.huilerieemilenoel.com

environmental standards to the core and set strict guidelines to protect and conserve the environment, having an organic certification is definitely a big plus.  In fact many producers invest their Fair Trade premium funds in organic certification.  WFTO support organic farming by providing education and training to producers and by giving them higher price incentives for their organic products.  Fair Trade standards clearly state that agrochemicals that are extremely dangerous to humans, plants, animals and soil and water resources are not to be used in farming even if it will get the job done faster and more efficiently.  Organic farmers substitute labor and intensive management instead of using such chemicals to ensure that they are delivering quality, fresh and healthy produce.

Be Healthy, Be Organic!

As we become more conscious about our purchases and continuously favor products and produce that meets Fair Trade Standards, we also encourage the production of goods that will benefit us health wise, support the farming communities and conserve and preserve the environment at the same time.  Going organic therefore is not just a step towards healthy living but also a green way to live a more meaningful life.

artisans of india

Handmade Expressions: Empowering the Artisans of India

Handmade Expressions, based in Austin Texas, is a sourcing partner for socially and environmentally responsible products by artisans of India.  They aim to create a sustainable livelihood that will help the underprivileged and the disadvantaged artisans in the community.  By bringing their products in the International Fair Trade, Handmade Expressions hopes to improve the economic and social standings of these Indian artisans.

Handmade Expressions is Creating a Sustainable Livelihood

Handmade Expressions is an independent Fair Trade company and member of the Fair Trade Federation.  Apart from providing the opportunity to create a sustainable livelihood, they also sponsor community development projects to improve services such as healthcare and education.  The artisans of India also aim to protect and conserve the environment by being environmentally responsible – that is by using as many recycled, reused and natural materials and processes whenever possible.

As more and more people are now becoming a conscious consumer, the demand for ethical products labeled cruelty free, organic, recycled, re-used, produced locally or fair trade –will considerably increase, therefore creating an opportunity for more artisans to participate in the International trade to supply the demands.

Empowering the Artisans of India

Handmade Expressions empower the artisans of India with market and fashion information to produce high quality gifts, home accents, women’s accessories and tree-free stationery products that will competitively survive the international market.  The more Fair Trade goods there is the more alternative and choices for the consuming public.

Are You a Conscious Consumer?

The next time you made your purchases consider the social and environmental impact of the production of such goods.  Educate yourself about a product’s hidden cost before you ultimately decide to buy it. Remember that Fair Trade goods support social empowerment, gender equality, training, community development and environmental stewardship.  You can empower the artisans of India by buying or promoting their artworks.

women artisans of India

Photos courtesy of: www.handmadeexpressions.net

women artisans of ArtCamp cropped

The Women Artisans of Taxco Mexico

jewelries by artisans

Art Camp or Artesanas Campesinas

Art Camp or Artesanas Campesinas is a social project that aims to empower the women of the village Tecalpulco and Taxco El Viejo, Guerrero Mexico by making a living by producing quality hand-made jewelries.  The Tecalpulquenos were known for being amazing Tinsmiths making elaborate masks and frames for mirrors.  Rooted from such an innately creative line of craftsmen, the women artisans of Taxco carry on the tradition and intends to keep this art alive for more years to come.

A Fair Trade Company for Women Artisans

Abalone shell jewelries, made from Mexico villages, are popular all over the world.  Art Camp chose to grab such an opportunity to supply the demand for Abalone shell jewelries and teach the women artisans of Taxco to make a sustainable livelihood that can support families and the community by creating hand-made jewelries and introducing their products in the fair trade.  The women artisans of Taxco devote creativity and hard work to every piece of jewelry – producing quality products that can confidently venture in the global market.  The Art Camp cooperative teaches the women artisans, new style of production, different styles and designs as well as the importance of customer service and relationship in order to improve their product competitiveness in the international fair trade.  Art Camp aims to balance work and family life by giving the women artisans of Taxco the option to work from their home or go in a facility on a daily fixed schedule

rural women artisansHaving this kind of opportunity – make a living and break into the fair trade scene – improve the lives of rural families by granting them the means to support or provide for basic needs such as food, shelter, medical care and even education at some extent.  That’s why it’s important that we support the products of the women artisans of Taxco in order to ensure that they will continuously enjoy a sustainable meaningful life with their respective families and ultimately for their whole community as well.

Keeping the Tradition and Empowering the Women Artisans

Their mission is the creation of ideal conditions for the rebirth of a local industry of Mexican crafts in the municipality of Taxco de Alarcón, Guerrero. Their goal is to connect the traditional crafts of their people with global markets to aid families and find ways to create decent lives for their children. Their hope is to become a model for Mexico and other countries and share what they have learned.

*Images courtesy of www.facebook.com/ArtcampGuerrero

Photo FMSC / CC BY

Rising Through Poverty

Photo FMSC / CC BY

Photo FMSC / CC BY

There are many families among developing countries living in poverty.  Oftentimes, they are unable to improve their situation due to the lack of opportunity to earn decently.  Small farmers are struggling to keep ownership of their land while those who are hired workers are often subjected to unfair wages and denied even the most basic employment rights.

Fair Trade and Global Poverty

Fair Trade Certified is a market-based model intended to improve global poverty.  By choosing to work together to create cooperatives, farmers are able to survive the competitive market alongside industrial farms in the face of price fluctuations in the world trading.  This Fair Trade certified farms also promote gender equality.  Women who usually face unfair treatment, discrimination and harassment in some work environment, are now given the opportunity to work decently in Fair Trade certified farms with a safe environment as well as rights and access to health care and respect from the community.

Empowering the Men and Women

Fair trade empowers not just the men but the women as well by providing them the opportunities for education and leadership roles.  This opportunity inspires women from the communities to strive harder and attain their full potential in order to rise from poverty and live a more meaningful life within the community.  Suffice to say, fair trade supports women empowerment.

The Opportunity to Rise from Poverty

Fair Trade opens the door for sustainable opportunities for poverty stricken families to better their lives.  It lays a fair playing field for producers or farmers and artisans alike to venture in the world trade economy.  Poverty is a global issue and fair trade holds the solution by redesigning the way we conduct our businesses, by encouraging self improvement and self-help as opposed to relying to charity works, and by stressing the importance of building long lasting relationships that value mutual trust and respect cultural identities.

Photo courtesy of www.wfto.com

Photo courtesy of www.wfto.com