Posts tagged ‘fair trade federation’

Fair Trade Ostrich Egg jewelry from the San Bushmen Women of the Kalahari

We just got our first shipment of Ostrich Egg jewelry, made by the San Bushmen Women of the Kalahari.

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Ostrich eggshell beads are considered the first beads humans ever made, dating back over 50,000 years, with the San Bushmen women being the last people to make these beads as part of their tradition.

How the ostrich eggshell beads are made:

Photo courtesy of Women's Work and Kuru Family of Organizations

Photo courtesy of Women's Work and Kuru Family of Organizations

1.) The first step is to break the ostrich eggshells into chips.

2.) Then each chip is made round by a springbok horn or nail clippers-whichever is readily available.

3.) Next, a hole is started in each chip with a hand-drill then punched through with a small awl.
4.) Next the drilled chips are strung and laid across a wooden board. 5.) Using a whetstone, the chips are hand polished. The strings are wet, rubbed, then, wet some more. Through this tedious and strenuous task the rough chips are transformed into lovely luminous beads.

We sourced this beautiful jewelry from Celicia at Women’s Work, a fellow member of the Fair Trade Federation. Like many other products that we have managed to find over the past two years, this jewelry is great example of finding a market for a local tradition, using local (and sustainable) materials and giving a real sense of empowerment to the people of the region.

The purchase of these beads helps to preserve the San culture, bringing much-needed income to women deep in the heart of the Kalahari in Botswana.

We’ll be retailing these ‘pearls of the Kalahari’ at Global Fayre in downtown Springfield, and they will also be available shortly through our online store.

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June 9, 2009 at 14:03 18 comments

Tagua Jewelry now in the Global Fayre online store

We mentioned the cool Tagua jewelry that we found at the Fair Trade Federation conference in an earlier post.

We’ve had a great reaction to the Tagua since the first delivery arrived, so now we’re added it to our store.

We’ve started with the candy bracelets – they have such vibrant colors, they are a summer must! We’ll be adding to the online collection over the next few weeks – watch out for Ostrich jewelry too!

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Update (May 28th):

We’ve now had some info from Christopher at Minga Imports (they are fellow members of the Fair Trade Federation) telling us a little about how the company came about, and so wanted to share it with you:

About Us

Minga Fair Trade Imports began as The Christopher Connection, founded in 1997 by Christopher Keefe during his time living in Ecuador (1995-2004). It started with the concept of improving education (both education in Ecuador and improving public knowledge of Fair Trade in the United States) and supporting the concept of a sharing wage*.

The company name was changed in 2002 to Minga Manufacturers to reflect Chris’ increased involvement in the design and production of the clothing and other products. Minga Manufacturers worked with local producers of textiles to distribute Ecuadorian products throughout the coastal towns and cities of the country, helping to boost the esteem and the economy of the people.

In 2004, Chris made the decision to move the company base back to the United States in order to maximize productivity, and the name was changed to Minga Fair Trade Imports. The business began with a humble start, working out of a friend´s basement.  As the business grew, he moved up to a garage, then a storage unit, and then to a 600 sq. ft. garage.

As the business continued to grow, Mickey was hired to help Chris. A larger variety of merchandise was imported, and before long the garage became too small.  To accommodate the growth, Minga moved yet again to a 2,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, in 2007, where it is presently located. Although the business was founded by Christopher, he credits his employees with helping make the business the success it is today.

Behind the Name: Minga Fair Trade Imports

The name Minga Fair Trade Imports was adopted to reflect what the business does: import products that provide work and fair wages to South American workers, while retaining the original values of education and a sharing wage*.

One of the most common questions we are asked is “What exactly does Minga mean?” Minga is a Quechua (an indigenous language of South America) word meaning “communal work day.”  When people form a Minga, they all come together and work toward a common goal that is often to the benefit of all involved.  We feel that “Minga” is a word that fits perfectly the goals that we’re striving to accomplish, working together for the benefit of all.

Today, Minga Fair Trade Imports works with retailers in more than 20 states, and many master artisans in Ecuador, Peru, and other countries.  We are excited about the future, and are grateful to all who work with us to further the mission of fair trade in the world.


*Sharing Wage:  The concept of a wage that not only provides the recipient with enough money to pay for essential expenses, but also leaves them with enough to reinvest in themselves and their communities, therefore contributing to the common good.


May 27, 2009 at 21:59 Leave a comment

Trunk Scrub Shea Soap from Global Mamas arrives at Global Fayre!

Trunk Scrub?

Shea Soap?

That’s right – we just got our latest delivery from our friends at Global Mamas, and it included a new product line; Trunk Scrub Shea Soap.

Here’s what Global Mamas say about the soap:

It is naturally moisturizing and refreshing, handmade by women in Ghana, and uses pure unrefined shea butter, coconut oil, sodium hydroxide and essential oils.

The pure unrefined shea butter is extracted from the kernels of wild karite trees in Ghana. This African “liquid gold” contains vitamins A and E and minerals that work to moisturize and restore the natural beauty of your skin. It contains natural UV protection and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and stretch marks”

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It comes in three fragrances; lavender, rosemary and tea tree oil – and it smells wonderful!

The packaging is made from 100% recycled polythene plastic from Ghana.

We’ve dealt with Global Mamas ever since we first opened the store; you’ll have seen the too-cute baby and children clothes, plus the cool pj’s and lounge pants. They are a nonprofit, fair trade organization with the mission of empowering women in Africa. They are also members of the World Fair Trade Organization and fellow members of the Fair Trade Federation.

May 25, 2009 at 17:21 Leave a comment

Fair Trade Tagua jewelry from Ecuador arrives at Global Fayre

When we went to the Fair Trade Federation Conference in Portland earlier this year, we made some great contacts and met face-to-face with many Fair Trade importers that had until then we had only ‘met’ through their websites and email conversations.

We’re now starting to see some new products arrive at Global Fayre as a result. It always takes more time than we expect to go from liking something we see to getting that first order in, but we have found that it pays to be cautious at first; once a product or a range gets established, there will be plenty of time to get more items in later on.

So we were excited today to get our first shipment from Minga Fair Trade Imports.Acting as a liaison between small businesses in the global north and artisans in the global south to promote mutual economic advantage and appreciation, Minga develops, imports, and distributes to retail stores clothing for all seasons and ages, accessories, baskets, art, jewelry, musical instruments, pottery, rugs, toys, and other items from Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Brazil.logo

We really like their clothing, especially the kids clothing, but we’re CRAZY about their Tagua.

Tagua is an ivory-like nut harvested from palm trees indigenous to South America. Tagua is used to make beautiful products, at the same time helping to protect the earth’s animals and environment.

How does Tagua help?

It discourages poaching. Long known as ‘poor man’s ivory’ Tagua provides a beautiful alternative, reducing demand for ivory and reducing the slaughter of elephants.

It creates Jobs. Hand crafting Tagua gives farmers much needed work, as well as preserving a traditinoal art and culture.

It preserves the Forest. Tagua nuts are harvested without harming the trees they grow on, meaning that the landscape is preserved and the ecosystem protected.

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May 14, 2009 at 16:28 4 comments

Wire and Bead Critters from Zimbabwe

A fellow member of the Fair Trade Federation, Originals from Africa, have just delivered  some beautiful wire and bead critters, made by Bernard Domingo and his team of eight in Zimbabwe. Bernard has been perfecting the art of wire and bead making for over 20 years and loves what he does. The team works in Bernard’s yard in Zimbabwe, under the shade of jacaranda trees.

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The team is constantly working on new designs and improving their quality, and they love to get customer feedback. Making these products allows them to provide for their entire families and sometime other village members as well.

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We’ll be adding the critters to our online store over the next few days.

April 24, 2009 at 13:00 1 comment

Thoughts from the Fair Trade Federation Conference in Portland Oregon

Cheri and I just got back to Springfield, after spending 5 days in Portland in the company of some of the most awe-inspiring and motivated people that I think I have ever encountered.

The occasion was the 15th Conference of the Fair Trade Federation, the trade group that brings together Fair Trade wholesalers and retailers of North America. Having been accepted as members of the FTF earlier in the year, and having never been to a conference previously (although a members-only conference on the first day, after that it is very much open to the public) we were excited to attend, but also unsure of what the event would be like, how worthwhile we would find it, and frankly whether or not we could afford to attend.

You can find out more about the events of the Conference at the FTF website (www,fairtradefederation.com). The whole event was pretty intense, with session after session aimed at giving the members the tools they need to keep growing, especially in the difficult economic climate. It was emotional too, with many of the members making it clear that their businesses were struggling badly, but that one thought kept them going; the need to continue providing a route to market for the thousands of artisans in countries around the world that depend on the Fair Trade movement.

It was great from a personal point of view to meet many of the people that we have been working with since opening Global Fayre in Dec 2007. In virtually every case it was the first time we had met in person.

All-in-all, the conference gave us both a renewed sense of energy, urgency and commitment to Fair Trade. See you next year in Boston!

March 31, 2009 at 22:26 Leave a comment

Fair Trade Hemp and ‘no kill’ leather Bags from Nepal

Today we added some beautiful bags to our online store.

We get these bags from Ganesh Himal Trading. GHT has been bringing Fair Trade products to the US since 1984, and are leaders in the US Fair Trade movement, playing a key part in groups like the Fair Trade Federation, the Fair Trade Resource Network and Green America.  Here’s their story: Since 1984, we have been supplying shops and retail customers in the U.S.with high quality, handcrafted clothing, jewelry, textiles, and paper. We import directly from small cottage industries in Nepal, including development projects working to improve the lives of Tibetan refugees and women.
Our goal has always been to support work that enhances people’s lives and traditions. We work directly with the
producers as a team, expanding each others’ talents and ideas. It is rewarding to work with such skilled artisanswho enjoy what they do and to know that they realize a fair return for their work.

In the mountains of Nepal hemp has been used for centuries because of its strength and durability. This satchel is produced in Nepal by artisans who receive a fair wage and benefits.We’ve added 4 bags; a passport bag, two backpacks and a satchel. The bags are made from hemp, ‘no kill’ leather and cotton. ‘No Kill’ leather is made from cows who have died natural deaths and is softened without using chemicals.

Here’s what they look like:

Fair Trade Hemp Passport Bag from Nepal

Fair Trade Hemp Passport Bag from Nepal

Fair Trade Hemp Backpack from Nepal

Fair Trade Hemp Backpack from Nepal

Fair Trade Hemp backpack from Nepal

Fair Trade Hemp backpack from Nepal

Fair Trade Hemp Satchel from Nepal

Fair Trade Hemp Satchel from Nepal

March 24, 2009 at 23:01 8 comments

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