Sustainably Chic

The Pioneers of Fair Trade

LifestyleNatalie Kay

Ten Thousand Villages

Beginning about 60 years ago, Ten Thousand Villages started with visionary businesswoman Edna Ruth Byler. On a trip to Puerto Rico in the 40s, she noticed the vast amount of poverty within the country and felt compelled to take action. Knowing a market for the artisans could exist in the US, she started a campaign throughout the country and sold their products out of the trunk of her car. Since then, Ten Thousand Villages has grown to network with almost 400 retail outlets {over 70 of their own brick-and-mortar} and supports tens of thousands of artisans in 38 countries. They are a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), and each product sold helps pay for food, education, healthcare and housing for an artisan within an impoverished community. Not only are they creating economically sustainable communities, Ten Thousand Villages encourages their artisans to use environmentally friendly processes, sustainable natural resources and recycled materials.

A shop I frequent in Asheville, NC, I was always curious on how they came up with the name. Reading up, I found their name came from a Mahatma Gandhi quote;

…India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages…we have hardly ever paused to inquire if these folks get sufficient to eat and clothe themselves with.

The world is full of such unique and diverse villages, and the products they create are so distinct to their traditions and culture. You can really feel the sense of several communities coming together under one roof when visiting one of their retail locations. Their logo represents the values within the business, and how we are all linked together, as well as the homes and methods used by each artisan. Multiply it by ten thousand, and that is the connected and conscious world they are trying to achieve! 

Spring is here, so plants, terrariums, and home decor are on my mind! I loved filling up my Secret Garden Terrarium {made by a group of artisans called Noah's Ark} with plants from my local flower shop. A trading partner of Ten Thousand Villages, Noah's Ark gives back to education for the children of Moradabad, India. Samuel Masih, director of this group, was inspired by artisan Mohammed Shahid who had a dream for the children of his neighborhood to receive an education. In 2007, he opened a school for the community, and today, there are 20 students who hope to complete their education with Noah's Ark in order to attend a full time school at age 16.

Many of these families are poor, and are unable to afford the cost of school books and uniforms. Their children either drop out or do not go to school at all.
— Samuel Masih

I wanted to share a few other items on my radar within their online shop {pictured above}: Click below to start shopping! 

Geo-Earth Planter / Precious Earth Terrarium / Industrial Chic Cupcake Stand / Puzzle Pieces Necklace

Create a stronger community of villages, and shop online