Tag Archives: Tagua Jewelry

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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5 Great Fair Trade Gifts for Graduation!

30 May

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0000/9057/products/peace_coffee_1_medium.jpg  1. If there is one thing that every student seems to need, whether at school, at an internship or a new office job, it’s coffee. Peace Coffee makes delicious, high quality, organic, fair trade coffee that helps to sustain the lives and families of the people who grow, roast, and sell it and protect the environment that produces it. Even better: get your graduate a subscription so they don’t have to worry about running out of coffee in their first months at a new job or at graduate school!

2. For the on-the-go traveling, working, studying, or maybe even relaxing graduate, a good backpack is a must. The Pencil Promise is an amazing 2-Maasai-bags organization that pledges to donate one backpack to a child in need in Cambodia or India for every backpack you purchase online. Their new Maasai collection of backpacks made from 100% Maasai wool is not only trendy, but is also made by widows of the Maasai Tribe who, due to their marginalized status in society, often do not have access to education or employment. The two-strap backpack is also roomy and comfortable -guaranteed not to hurt the back of the busy and fast-moving post-grad!

 
 SimpliciTree earrings 3. For the fashionable, but also environmentally and socially-conscious graduate, products that you look good in and that you can feel good about buying are essential. Hope for Women’s beautiful SimpliciTree tagua bracelets, necklaces, and earrings provide opportunities for women artisans in Colombia while also providing incentive to protect valuable rainforest habitat where tagua is harvested. Committed to SimpliciTree Earrings - Turqouiseproviding sustainable employment for economically disadvantaged women worldwide, Hope for Women sells products made exclusively by women to help them gain independence in their lives and futures. All items come in turquoise, rust, stone, or amethyst color.

 The Traveller Journal Gift Pack 4. For the post-grad traveler out to see the world, a journal for writing down thoughts and notes is always a good idea, especially when that notebook is eco-friendly. Tall Trees Eco Store is a great place to find affordable and environmentally sustainable notepads and pens. Their Traveler Journal Gift Pack includes a travel journal handmade in Northern India by women artisans and a biodegradable pen made from corn starch.

5. Finally, for those who prefer to donate money rather than give material gifts, think about donating for your graduate https://i2.wp.com/www.stmikescdm.org/Images/Heifer_International_Llamas.pngto Heifer International. On their website, you can choose your purchase from an array of gifts like a cow, sheep, llama that can produce sustenance and a livelihood for a family and their children. And because animals can produce offspring every year, each gift will be passed on, eventually helping an entire community along the path from poverty to self reliance. By giving this gift you will help your graduate step foot into the “real world” in the right way. Now that’s a gift worth giving!

p.s. Just plan on writing a card? Check out Hope for Women’s handmade tree-free, non-toxic, recycled India Card Collection, which contains cards that are beautiful, environmentally sustainable, and handmade by women artisans in India! You can’t go wrong! Even if we are a little bit biased…

Valley Collection Note Card

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!

Hope For Women is heading to New Orleans to join hundreds of salons at Serious Business this weekend

20 Jan

This weekend you can find our Hope For Women founder, Evan Goldsmith, at Serious Business in New Orleans – a premiere event for salons and hair professionals.  We are currently working with hundreds of Aveda salons, and we will be showcasing some of our new salon-specific products, including our new, amazing Fair Trade, eco-friendly ReStyle™ Salon Pro Stylist Bag made using recycled tire tubes!

            Scott Buchanan, a globally recognized hair professional from Scott J. Aveda salonspas loves his Stylist Bags and had this to say, “This is a perfect bag for salon professionals – it is durable, holds everything I need and looks fantastic

ReStyle™ Salon Pro Stylist Bag

too. And it feels great knowing that each ReStyle™  Salon Pro Stylist Bag is handcrafted using recycled tire tubes by women artisans in Bogota, Colombia.  I love it!”  This bag has been developed directly with salon professionals to safely and stylishly transport their tools – AND WE ARE GIVING ONE STYLIST BAG AWAY FOR FREE AT SERIOUS BUSINESS! If you are headed to Serious Business this weekend make sure you come to our table to say “hi” and drop off your business card so you can be entered to win a Salon Pro Stylist Bag.

ReStyle bracelet

We aren’t just doing one giveaway though! If you are at Serious Business and want to win one of our cool ReStyle bracelets all you need to do is tag us in your Facebook status or tweet at us @HopeForWomen. The 10th, 30th, and 50thperson to tag Hope For Women or tweet at us will win a ReStyle Bracelet. The winners will be contacted Sunday night so they can pick up their new Restyle Bracelet Monday the 23rd at the Hope For Women table. 

            At Serious Business we will also have our great Salon Pro Cosmetic Bags and our Salon Pro Travel/Dopp kit. These cosmetic bags are for men or women, and they are made from recycled tire tubes with several different color accents to match anyone’s style. Come by and tell Evan what you think of them! 

Tagua hair accessories

              Our brand new Tagua hair accessories are in and are sure to be a crowd pleaser in New Orleansthis weekend. Dress up your naked pony tail with four different styles of tagua hair accessories – each style comes in six different colors to ensure you have a hair accessory for every outfit. These are handmade by women artisans in Bogota using sustainably harvested tagua from Colombia’s rainforests. Each tagua nut is made individually so you know you’re getting a one of a kind piece. You can find out more information by visiting our table at the Serious Business event or by clicking the Salons tab on our webpage.

It’s here! My Top 10 Favorite Fair Trade Gift Ideas

29 Nov

I searched high and low looking for awesome Fair Trade holiday gifts for my notoriously picky fam and friends this year. What did I find?.. So much good stuff! In fact, I was completely overwhelmed with how many amazing and unique Fair Trade gifts are out there, ranging from cinnamon sticks to sea sponges, which in turn inspired me to compile a list of some of my personal favorites for you to enjoy.

1. Coconut Soap – $4.50 Totally affordable and the perfect stocking stuffer size. Plus, just imagine how awesome you will smell…

2. Recycled Foil Wrapper Clutch Bag – $39.99 Super colorful and super creative. Great for keeping your sacred cellular safe.

3. Hand-Carved Kenyan Salad Tongs – $14.99 Absolutely beautiful. The perfect addition to any table setting. 

4. Swinging Leg Cat Pencil – $5.00 Okay, so my love for cats might make me a little biased on this one, but I couldn’t resist. Cute, affordable, and the perfect stocking stuffer.

5. Organic Breakfast Crate – $39.95 Pancakes, maple syrup and Green Mountain Coffee, anyone? Deliciousness in a basket.

6. Medium Clunky Colorful Telephone Bracelet – $18.99 So cool. Brighten up any bland outfit with these essential funky accessories.

7. Farm Story Finger Puppets – $19.50 One of the cutest things I have ever laid eyes on. The perfect playful present for all you creative kids out there. 

8. Dark Chocolate Covered Mini Pretzels – $5.00 Who wouldn’t want to wake up Christmas morning to a handful of these delectable treats?

9. Recycled Sheet Metal Star Ornament – $3.00 These little guys come in all sorts of fun colors and adds that extra little sparkle to your tree.

10. Tagua Layered Slice Earrings – $23.95 These have always been one of my favorites from the Hope for Women tagua collection. A perfect gift for any and all occasions.

Compiled by Sarah VanNostrand – Hope For Women All-Star Intern