I’m beyond excited to introduce you to Valentina Schade of Ten Thousand Villages and our first brand partner for our office makeover project! Valentina jumped into this project with so much excitement and vigor and we fell in love with the pieces she chose from their beautiful artisan partners for our office (stay tuned for the office makeover reveal coming soon)! I asked her to share with our readers about why fair trade is so important and tell us why she felt compelled to be a part of our work! Read her words below:
Right out of college, I got a job at a small business, and I loved everything about it. I enjoyed getting to use my hard earned skills daily. I liked the entrepreneurial spirit I felt every morning when I jiggled the key in the lock to open the front door and turn on the ‘open’ sign in the window. But what I loved the most was being part of a community. There was something so fulfilling about getting to know each customer personally while working alongside my colleagues doing what I loved.
That’s is why I believe in fair trade, and why I’m so honored to work for Ten Thousand Villages. When people have the opportunity to put their hard earned skills to work in small businesses, workshops, and cooperatives, their communities thrive. When artisans are paid fairly for what they’ve created, they can invest in healthcare and clean water. If mothers have access to steady income and childcare, their children stay off the streets and in school. Fair trade takes everything that is good about the local entrepreneurial spirit and allows it to flourish on an international scale.
Ten Thousand Villages creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to the North American market through long-term, fair trading relationships. We believe that everybody should have the opportunity to earn a fair wage, be treated with dignity and respect, and to have the resources to make their own communities stronger. Every product we carry is handmade, whether it’s a bracelet, a basket, or a bowl. Our artisan partners use traditional skills and local materials (recycled or sustainably sourced as often as possible), and then blend them with modern trends to create some of the most unique accessories and home goods you will ever find. The stable income and safe working conditions that are ensured by fair trade standards allows artisans the freedom and flexibility to be resourceful and innovative in their designs. They never cease to amaze us!
We were honored to donate some of our favorite items to the Healing Waters office makeover, because community is so important to both of our organizations. And without clean water or a reliable income, communities cannot thrive. Communities like Sacred Mark, a group of women who have escaped from the sex trade and who now have steady and dignified employment making beautiful creations out of repurposed sari fabric. And communities like CORR, a group in Bangladesh that works with women regardless of caste, creed or race. It provides job training and develops leadership skills so women have the chance to break free from the cycle of poverty that leads many to work in dangerous environments. Decorating an office dedicated to providing clean and safe water to communities with items handmade by our partners who are dedicated to making their own communities thrive just seemed like a natural fit.
A big thank you to our friends at Ten Thousand Villages for partnering with us!