*published on Compathos
Even in a recession we all still want to give a trinket or something snuggly to those we love. How much better if these tokens of esteem and adoration also come with a helping hand to those less fortunate, but oh so talented.
Sometimes it is difficult to know if artisans and artists have been treated fairly, paid a good wage and work in safe conditions. But many producers have donned the mantle of doing well and doing good simultaneously and they are offering an array of wonderful gifts which can be purchased on the internet for the holidays. Or be smart and keep this handy guide for birthdays, weddings, Valentines Day or Mom’s and Dad’s Day.
Full disclosure here, I am one of the founders of this amazing company. I say that with pride as these high-end skin creams are made from the finest safely harvested, fair-trade shea butter. The women in Northern Ghana are the only ones who gather shea nuts, as shea is a self-sustaining crop harvested from the ground and hence the men consider it trash, and thus women’s work. The women use the money they garner from gathering shea to pay school fees for their children, often their daughters who are less often allowed to go to school than their brothers.
The women literally risk their lives gathering the shea nuts as black mombas and vipers abound and they have no protective gear. JUST SHEA was founded to provide women with hats, boots and gloves to protect against snakebites. JUST SHEA pays for this gear by selling high-end creams created to protect Western women’s face, hands and feet. It is a simple elegant solution for one set of women to help another.
All the products are available individually at http://www.justshea.com Each $55
And sets are available at the wonderful site AHA Life, which also offers other products that give back. Set of three $148
The folks who began 12 Small Things also produce the beautiful HAND/EYE magazine and website. 12 Small Things, no surprise, offers a dozen quality, handmade, artisan goods from around the globe. The current collection features work form India, Peru, Ghana, Haiti, Africa and Guatemala. The collections support craftspeople working to improve the lives of their families and communities in some of the most challenging situations on the planet. Their stories are those of strength, hope, and beauty, and each product reflects these qualities in the design and craftsmanship. 12 Small Thingsstrives to assist these communities and artisans through commerce.
One of our favorites for holiday giving are the magical EBONY VESSELS (photo 2) crafted from sustainably sourced mpingo wood by artisans living in Mozambique’s vast woodlands, these sophisticated storage jars are both useful and beautiful. The unique lids of these stylish lathe-turned jars are a chance for the carvers to show off their skills. Mpingo is the Kiswahili word for the dark hardwood also known as African blackwood or Mozambican ebony and grows prolifically in Mozambique’s forests. Differences in tone and slight imperfections confirm the authenticity of materials and craftsmanship of every vessel.
Select from 3 different styles; Small (7 x 4″), Medium (8 x 4″) or Large (10 x 4). If out of stock, vessels can be special ordered at firstname.lastname@example.org. Availability: In stock – $65.00
Patti Carpenter was a big time designer working for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Timberland and Bill Blass, when at the flip of the Millennium she decided she needed a different mission. So she quit and began working with artisans, primarily women across the wide world. Her mission was and is to help the incredible artisanal women to hone the design elements of their craft to appeal to markets in the industrialized world.
Carpenter voyages to Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America to seek out crafts, clothes and home decor items, which will enrich your lives while helping workers worldwide. One of her most loved new items are JouJou Dolls.These Haitian dolls are made in conjunction with Haiti Projects, Inc., Cooperative D’Artisanat and Carpenter. The fair wages are set by the artisans, generate a sustainable income source that in turn support families and communities. A percent of retail sales and wholesale sales, beyond the purchase price, go back to artisans to update water systems, improve housing and schools. $27
Also check out the DIGS web site in general for other sustainable gifts that give back and offer modern design and eco-friendly ethics, sustainable style and fair trade. Shop their collection of essentials, accessories and gifts for contemporary living, and discover sustainable design for every occasion. They offer natural body care, eco-friendly home furnishings, organic cotton textiles and designer bath accessories to FSC certified woods, fashion accessories, votives and oil diffusers, and natural home accessories.
Every DIGS item is made from recycled, repurposed, sustainable or organic materials. Crafted in collaboration with artisans from around the world, DIGS products meet Fair Trade guidelines.
The Andean Collection was founded to bring sustainable change to impoverished communities in South America. They offer artisans the opportunity to participate in the global market while inspiring customers with access to the elusive world of the rural Andes. Their motto is – “We Create to Encourage Change”.
They also have a non-profit arm, Andean Project, to ensure that this change is productive and healthy and to address other poverty related social issues, all funded through sales and private donations.
The jewelry runs from $30 to just under $100 dollars. One we love is the Cloud Forest Choker made form Acai and panbil beads it is $54
And for those of you who would like to make a donation in the name of a loved one as the gift for any occasion think about GreaterGood.org is committed to making the world a better place by using simple online ways to protect the health and well-being of people, animals and the planet. GreaterGood.org partners with and funds leading nonprofit organizations around the world in order to alleviate poverty and hunger, promote peace, address cancer and other widespread health problems, foster literacy and provide education, preserve vital habitats in peril, and provide protection and care to vulnerable animals.
Angel Votive Candleholders (photo) are from Croix des Bouquets, a world renowned center of artisanry outside Haiti’s capitol, Port au Prince. Each angel is hand-chiseled from sheet metal using time-honored Croix des Bouquets techniques. Metal sculptor Exuvare Jolimeau comes from a famous family of metal artists headed by his uncle, Serge Jolimeau. Serge studied with the great master of Haitian metalwork, Georges Liautaud, whose artistry catapulted Haitian “fer forge” to international attention.12 Small Things