Posts tagged ‘jewelry’
A bit of background: the Fair Trade Foundation is the UK arm of FLO-CERT. Here’s how FLO-CERT describes itself; “FLO-CERT GmbH is an independent International Certification company offering Fairtrade Certification services to clients in more than 70 countries. We assist in the socio-economic Development of producers in the Global South and help to foster long-term relationships and good practice with traders of Certified Fairtrade products. Our Certification provides a guarantee to consumers of Certified Fairtrade products that they are contributing to the Social-Economic Development of people through their purchases.”
What does that all mean? Well essentially, FLO-CERT and its country-based partners like the Fair Trade Foundation in the UK and Fair Trade USA (formerly TransFair USA) are responsible for all the certified fair trade products that we see on the shelves with logos like these….
So typically, when there is a groundswell to certify a new commodity or product, an application for certification will be made to FLO-CERT or one of its partners. They will certify that fair trade standards are being met at the producer group itself and in how the product is brought to market.
The jewellery market (gold and diamonds in particular) have been under the scrutiny of socially responsible organizations and conscious consumers for some time now. Efforts have been made at times to clean up the act of a pretty much unregulated industry; blood-free diamonds is one example. Real progress was made this year when the Fair Trade Foundation and the Alliance for Responsible Mining announced a joint initiative – Fair Trade Fair Mined Gold. Unlike other certifications, FLO-CERT had felt the need to incorporate a partner with industry-specific experience – hence the involvement of ARM.
Here’s a little about ARM: “The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) is an independent, global-scale, pioneering initiative established in 2004 to enhance equity and wellbeing in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) communities through improved social, environmental and labour practices, good governance and the implementation of ecosystem restoration practices. ARM is committed to social justice and environmental responsibility as the values driving the transformation of ASM.” In practice, ARM works very closely with the mining communities to organize themselves, to improve their working practices and to use their mining revenues to improve their collective well being.
It was great today to hear how these groups have worked together (and continue to do so) to enable artisan mining communities to transform their standard of life. As we have found in other areas of fair trade, the struggle is huge, and the learning curve that these communities go through is enormous. What is so uplifting is how they tackle that challenge, usually beyond expectations.
We learned a lot about capabilities, levels of production, and the different scales of operation in (mainly) Peru and Bolivia. We ended the session having crystallized a number of concrete opportunities for all sides to explore and that real sense of satisfaction and achievement that goes hand-in-hand with involvement in fair trade at any level.
We’ll blog later about the mines and the miners, and about our specific projects.
We don’t carry many glass products, partly because one of our closest downtown neighbors is a glass blower (if you ever visit Springfield, aside from coming to Global Fayre, you should make sure to check out Terry and Gabe’s work at Springfield Hot Glass.
But when we saw these beautiful pendants, we just couldn’t resist.
The maker is a woman from Coapango, Guerrero in southern Mexico, Guadalupe Ramos Rios. Our source, Tom Costello tells us that “As far back as the stories go, and as far back as Ms. Ramos Rios can remember, her parent’s parent’s parent’s were artisans who made dresses, shoes, chairs, flatware, jewelry, and other items for everyday use and for personal dress. I have worked with three generations of her family. Every pendant has six components. When the chain or necklace are counted, that makes seven. We christened them “Cloud 9″ because of there light, floating colors and designs.”
For the moment, we are selling them only in our store at 324 S Campbell, Springfield, MO – but in a few weeks we will add them to our online store.
They have arrived just in time for Valentines Day – and to celebrate, we are giving away a Fair Trade Rose with every purchase from Feb 10 to Feb 14.
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!
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:
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.
We just got a fresh consignment of Zulugrass from the Leakey Foundation.
Based in The Rift Valley Kenya, East Africa, The Leakey Collection founders Katy and Philip Leakey, combine their talents in interior design and the arts with their love of nature to develop stunning handcrafted products for an international market. Using natural elements such as fallen wood, grass and porcelain, these renowned designers create unique products while protecting the environment and providing economic opportunity to the local communities.
You can read more about the history of the Masai and the birth of Zulugrass jewelry here.
The women harvest the grass, one blade at a time. The long grass is dried and cut into bead-size pieces and dyed lovely hues – blues, greens, reds, yellows, pinks, purples, earth and natural tones – which are then strung into necklaces and bracelets. Brilliant Czech glass beads are added, mixing them with the soft luster of the grass beads and giving sparkle and a contemporary flair to the jewelry. That’s how Zulugrass is born!
We’ll be adding Zulugrass to our online store over the next few days.