|photo via Fair Trade Winds Facebook page|
I met with the owner of Fair Trade Winds on Monday, August 11 to see if I would be a good fit for their open sales associate position. She hired me and I went in for a couple of hours during a slow time on that Friday for training. Then I worked for four hours on Sunday. On Sunday the Ballard Farmers Market goes on right outside the shop and we were super busy. You might remember that I have social phobia. Despite there being hundreds of customers in and out of the shop while I was working there, I loved every minute of it! My bosses and co-workers are all super cool and nice and helpful. I didn't feel even an ounce of stress the whole time, which is super important for me because a lot of stress makes me have seizures. The shop itself is filled with amazing fair trade products from around the world, and they all have a great story behind them. It is a super inspiring environment to work in, both artistically and socially. I have learned so much already! I am really passionate about the products and the people who make them, and I have been telling anyone and everyone who will listen about the importance of fair trade. I feel like I am making a difference by working there and that is a great feeling.
For those of you who don't know what fair trade means, let me tell you about it. It's not just a fancy buzzword and it's not a label people slap on products so they can charge more money for them. According to the Fair Trade Winds website, "Fair Trade is a system of trade that focuses on transparency, respect and equality. We support fair trade because we believe it is important to consider the lives and livelihood of the people who make the things we buy. Fair Trade ensures a fair, living wage, a healthy, safe and non-discriminatory work environment, and a commitment to building long-term partnerships that dignify an artisan’s work." I have learned some other things about fair trade from working in the shop so far. Fair trade products are handmade by people in other countries, especially third-world countries. A lot of the makers are women and/or mothers who would have no other way to provide for their families. It helps the women in male-dominated societies to be able to take care of themselves and keeps them from having to go into human trafficking. Fair trade products sell for a price that will provide a living wage for the people who make them. Different countries have different living wages so a similar product can sell for a very different price depending on the country the maker lives in. Fair trade is actually very affordable. I am continually surprised by how low the prices of various products are compared to what I would expect to pay for them. These products are handmade with care and attention to detail. Here are some great examples of products that I have learned about, which we sell in the shop and you can also buy in the online shop (just click the picture to go to the item):
|These bracelets are made of dyed grass by Maasai artisans. They are stretchy and can be worn as a bracelet, anklet, or necklace. 100% of the profits from this design go toward paying the salaries of local Kenyan teachers.|
|This messenger bag is the perfect addition to a nautical outfit. It's made in Cambodia of recycled cement bags and purchasing it helps in the fight against human trafficking.|
|Last (for today) but not least is this lovely Haitian metal wall art. They make all sorts of designs out of old oil drums! Each piece of art is created by cleaning an old oil drum, cutting it open, pounding it flat, sketching a design, then creating it with a hammer and chisel. All of the pieces are coated with a rust preventative and the big pieces are signed by the artist. Learn more here. These are the pieces that shock me the most with how low the price is for the incredible amount of work and detail that goes into making them.|
Fair Trade Winds has locations in Bar Harbor, Maine, Fairfax, Virginia, Stony Brook, New York, Seattle, Washington, Springfield, Ohio, Jamestown, Rhode Island, and Boulder, Colorado. You can find addresses and hours for all of the locations here. If you aren't near any of those locations you can shop the products online here.
It's not too early to start your Christmas shopping and fair trade products make great gifts. I intend to do all of my Christmas shopping at Fair Trade Winds. I have already been scoping out gifts for my family (and some for myself too! I seriously love all of the dresses.)
I was in no way compensated for writing this post. I just can't stop telling everyone how amazing fair trade is! I will definitely continue to share my favorite products from the store every so often. If you still want to know more about fair trade, you can read the Fair Trade Winds blog or check out the Fair Trade Federation site. In my next fair trade post I'll talk about the principles of fair trade and share some more of my favorite fair trade products, including the prettiest tin cups ever.