Tag Archives: Colombia

How to have a Fair Trade friendly Valentines Day!

6 Feb

Looking for an original way to show appreciation for your valentine this year? Commit to Fair Trade!

Here are some ideas on creative and socially responsible alternatives to the average Valentines Day gift:

1. Fair Trade Chocolate– Chocolate is an essential part of every Valentines Day, but this year consider options such as the Valentines products from Divine Chocolate, the only Fair Trade chocolate company which is 45% owned by the farmers. Company ownership gives the farmers a share of Divine’s profits and a stronger voice in the cocoa industry.  Another option, which comes in wide array of unique flavors is Alter Eco chocolate. They offer 10 different types of chocolate bars such as dark coconut toffee, dark quinoa, dark mint, and dark with crystallized orange peel. A third Fair Trade, organic option is Equal Exchange chocolate, which comes in a variety of forms and flavors, each as delicious as the next!

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2. Fair Trade Flowers Many people are not aware of the exploitation that occurs within the cut flower business in order to keep costs low.  Commit to buying Fair Trade flowers this Valentines Day in order to insure that you are not contributing to the mistreatment and abuse of workers.  One wonderful option is One World Flowers, an organization that sells all Fair Trade roses and has a large selection of Valentines Day bouquets.  One of the arrangements in particular, the Helping Haiti bouquet allows you to contribute to a cause while showing appreciation for your valentine because 10% of the purchase price is given as a donation to Samaritan’s Purse relief efforts in Haiti.  Another great option if there is a Whole Foods near you is to buy their Whole Trade Guaranteed or certified organic flower arrangements.  These floral products are grown according to strict criteria for ethical trade and earth-friendly farming.

Whole Foods Whole Trade Guaranteed Flower Selection

Whole Foods Whole Trade Guaranteed Flower Selection

One World Flowers Fair Trade Bouquet

One World Flowers Fair Trade Bouquet

3. Fair Trade Wine–  A bottle of wine is another essential component of most Valentines Day celebrations, so why not make it Fair Trade? There are now Fair trade wineries in Argentina, Chile and South Africa.  Here is a list of the the Top 10 Fair Trade Wines to help you make the best selection.

4. Fair Trade Jewelry & Accessories– At Hope For Women we are offering a Valentines Day special of 15% off select purple, red and pink products, which would make perfect gifts for your valentine! If you are looking to buy specifically gold jewelry for your special someone, check out Fair Trade and Fair Mined gold from the Fairtrade Foundation.

Tagua Twigs Cuff Bracelet - Fire -

Tagua Twigs Cuff Bracelet – Fire –

Fair Trade & Fair Mined Gold

Fair Trade & Fair Mined Gold

ReStyle Men's Wallet - Red -
ReStyle Men’s Wallet – Red –
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56 Million Pounds of Tagua Exported in 1929 – Can Tagua Rise Again?

28 Jan

Tagua, also known as Vegetable Ivory, is the seed found within the pod of an Ivory Nut Palm. We use tagua in many of our Fair Trade products but few people know about the fascinating history of this important rainforest seed. 

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A Brief History

Up until World War II, tagua was a widely used material and was exported from South America on a massive scale.  In the early part of the 19th century approximately $5,000,000.00 worth of tagua seeds were exported annually from South America.  The major producing countries were Ecuador and Colombia; Ecuador reached a peak in 1929 when it exported 56,861,236 pounds of tagua. Throughout the 1920s, 20% of all buttons produced in the US were made from this material.  However, with the introduction of plastic, and other cheaper synthetic alternatives, the popularity of this unique natural material drastically declined.

How Hope for Women Uses Tagua Today

Tagua has exceptional carvability, which is where it’s nickname, Vegetable Ivory stems from. This quality makes it the perfect material to create jewelry from.  The tagua seed is removed from it’s pod, stripped from its outer shell and polished.  Depending on the desired look, the hull is either completely removed or only partially in order to create a striped “zebra” look.

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The Harvesting of Tagua

There is no harm done to the rainforest during the harvesting of tagua because these seeds are collected after they have fallen to the ground.  In fact, the collection of tagua helps to provide incentive to local forest inhabitants to keep the rainforest intact. At Hope for Women, we use two different types of tagua seeds from Colombia.  Chicon tagua grows in the upper montane rainforests in the Narino Department of Colombia and is collected by Awa Indians who are indigenous to the region.  Coastal tagua, which is bigger than chicon, grows in the Pacific coastal rainforests of southwestern Colombia and is collected by Afro-Colombians.  The collection of these seeds provides great opportunity and much needed income to both groups who harvest them, helping to improve their lives.

Afro-Colombian collectors

Afro-Colombian collectors

An Awa Indian collector

An Awa Indian collector

View this slideshow and video to see and learn more about the complete harvesting process:

The Finished Product

Finished whole tagua in multiple colors - both solid and zebra

Finished whole tagua in multiple colors – both solid and zebra

Tagua is an excellent material to work with for jewelry making not only because it can be cut, carved and polished with ease, but it also because it easily absorbs coloring agents.  This allows you to find tagua pieces in your favorite colors! Hope for Women artisans handcraft the tagua seeds into beautiful pieces of jewelry such as the ones below:

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Hope for Women featured in Stonyfield’s Rewards Program!

25 May

Did you know that Vermont has the highest people to cow ratio than any other state (almost 2:1)? For me, this and my love for all dairy products are some of the many reasons why supporting businesses like Stonyfield that create dairy products from local farms like those in Vermont and New Hampshire is so important. Aside from the delicious taste, buying Stonyfield yogurt has always made me feel good as a consumer because of Stonyfield’s commitment to community outreach, environmental efforts, and quality products.

And even though yogurt and Hope for Women’s fairtrade handcrafted items may seem like completely different products, there are many ways in which they are similar. Like Stonyfield, at Hope for Women we are committed to creating quality products that our costumers can both enjoy and feel good about purchasing because they are made with environmentally sustainable materials through fair business practices, and support women and families who need the income to survive. In this way, both Hope for Women and Stonyfield products are geared towards the “conscious consumer” who care not only about what they purchase, but about the story behind their purchases. It seems natural, then, for Stonyfield and Hope for Women to forge a connection between their products.

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Enter Stonyfield Rewards Program. Through this program, simply by eating yogurt and other Stonyfield products, you can get free Hope for Women handmade cards or tagua bracelets! Now, not only can eating Stonyfield Farm products support local farms (and their many Vermont cows) but it can also support women artisans in India who create beautiful tree-free (the paper is instead made from recycled cotton), non-toxic, and recycled pressed-flower cards and those in Colombia creating beautiful SimpliciTree tagua bracelets!

   
4-pack of India collection                    SimpliciTree tagua bracelet (amythest color)
handmade cards

To get involved, go to myStonyfield Rewards and create an account (it’s free and fast!). Once you have signed in, you can add points to your account by entering reward codes from the foil lids of Stonyfield Farm yogurt containers (or see the Stonyfield website for code locations on other products). Once you have enough points, you will be able to redeem them for items like Hope for Women’s 4-pack of handmade, Fair Trade Himalayan flower cards or SimpliciTree tagua tree bracelet! Thus, just by eating yogurt, you can help join the community of conscious consumers and support environmentally sustainable practices, fair trade, and women’s rights!

Seems like a pretty good deal to me! Free goods and community outreach all in one!

Who made that cool ReStyle tire tube bracelet? Meet Milena from Colombia

2 Apr

Just two weeks ago we introduced you to Yolanda – one of the women that creates our ReStyle recycled tire tube products – and this week we would like you to meet Milena! Milena is a single mother of three children and has been creating handmade products in Colombia for over four years.

•What do you find most fun or rewarding about making the recycled tire tube products? What do you enjoy most about your work?

Milena-I like the design process, especially the small pieces like wallets or so. That’s what I enjoy the most because that’s what I studied and love to design.

•What is your favorite tire tube product to make, and why is it your favorite?

MilenaThere’s not a specific product, I just like to suggest solutions to make a product even better – that gives me great satisfaction.

•The tire tube bracelets are being sold in Aveda salons in the USA to raise money for Earth Month – making people aware about issues like access to clean water and stopping pollution –  what issues are important to you and your family that you want people to be aware of?

MelinaI’d like people to campaign to get money for poor people and those who have no access to health insurance or proper nutrition.

•How has your life changed since you started working with our partner group Sapia in Bogota  – what positive improvements have happened to you??

Milena– Thanks to this job I’m paying for my first computer, that way my kids can do their homework and can learn to use the internet. I have also learned to work with tire tube and that’s a good skill to have to help further my career since not many people work with this material.

I hope you have enjoyed meeting Milena and Yolanda! Both of these women work underDona Rosa who is also a single mother that started out just like Milena and Yolanda as an artisan many years ago. Dona Rosa has taken the initiative to learn many business management skills in order to oversee the management and production of the ReStyle recycled tire tube products. It is very important to us that the women we partner with have the chance to empower themselves and have the opportunity for upward mobility within the company.

Written by, Mary Mathias 

Who made that cool ReStyle tire tube bracelet? Meet Yolanda from Colombia

19 Mar

The founder of Hope for Women, Evan Goldsmith, is always in contact with our partners in Colombia, whether he is jumping on a plane to visit in person, or Skyping on his computer  he makes sure we maintain a close connection with the people we work with. I wanted to give you the chance to make a connection with some of the women that make our Fair Trade products, so we asked two of the women in Colombia to answer a few questions.

I would like to introduce Yolanda – a single mother of 3 children who lives in Bogota, Colombia. Yolanda has been making beautiful hand stitched products for over 9 years and her work truly shows her incredible skills. She has been working on the different styles of ReStyle tire tube bracelets, accessories and bags we now offer. Here are some questions that we asked Yolanda with her responses.

•What do you find most fun or rewarding about making the tire tube products and what do you enjoy most about your work?

Yolanda-At first it was very challenging to work with the tire tube since I’ve never done that before – I learned to sew leather and fabric but tire tube is a very different material. Learning to work on tire tube is very rewarding, especially because there’re not too many people who have the opportunity to learn this new skill.

•What is your favorite tire tube product to make, and why is it your favorite?

Yolanda- My favorite product is the ReStyle Motor Bag, because it’s both original and useful.

•The tire tube bracelets are being sold in Aveda Salons in North America to raise money for Earth Month – making people aware about issues like access to clean water and stopping pollution –  what issues are important to you and your family that you want people to be aware of?

Yolanda-I think that people should know about the unprotected children, how in our country for example there’re hundreds of children without education or without a family.

•How has your life changed since you started working with our partner group Sapia in Bogota  – what positive improvements have happened to you?

Yolanda-I’ve been saving to buy my own house and thanks to my job stability I’ve been able to pay for a good school for my three children.                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Yolanda is also working on the ReStyle tire tube bracelets that are being featured at over 300 Aveda salons and Institutes around the country to help raise money for Earth month! Buying one of these bracelets at your local Aveda salon will not only help support someone like Yolanda, but it will be supporting Aveda’s goal in raising money for their global and local clean water project.

Next week we will be sharing Milena’s interview!

Written by Mary Mathias