Why Fair Trade?

As the world becomes smaller through increased travel, better transportation systems, and new communication channels, consumers are having a greater opportunity than ever before to be able to own items made by artisans from all around the world. Not only are these items beautiful, but being able to bring a piece of your vacation or another part of the world into your home is something special that many cherish. Although there are many benefits for artisans around the world to be able to sell their handmade goods to foreigners, this opportunity also presents a threat to traditional culture and to the integrity of the production process.

It is hard to know while purchasing a product, even with the best intentions, where it truly originated from and the story behind it. In every part of the world, there are different factors affecting the production and tourism industry that are hard to evaluate unless you can fully assess all sides of the story, something that as visitors can be difficult.

What can we do as consumers to ensure that we are purchasing with integrity, empowering artisans, rather than pushing them downwards into the cycle of inequality and lack of opportunity? One solution is to buy from vendors that are registered as Fair Trade.

The World Fair Trade Organization classifies “Fair Trade” into 10 key principles. Organizations that are Fair Trade certified must continually uphold these ideals and practices.

This month, on May 11th, we will celebrate World Fair Trade Day. To celebrate, we urge and encourage all of our supporters and customers to do research on where you are purchasing your products from and support organizations that follow the 10 principles of Fair Trade.

To find a business that resonates with you, visit the World Fair Trade Organization’s website. Additionally, donate to our Fair Trade Day Campaign to offer access to education on Global Fashion Trends to 60 artisans.

In depth with the backstrap weaving cooperatives in Guatemala

In Guatemala many women are denied their rights.The country has a long history of gender disparities and discrimination against women. During the years of the civil war more than 200,000 people died, and most of those people were part of the Maya population. The women were particularly affected, as violence against women and rape were systematically used as weapons of war. Long after the war formally ended in 1996, women in Guatemala continued suffering from gender disparities, as a consequence of the long-standing discrimination against women during the war. As a response to the oppression of women, civil society organizations emerged after the end of the civil war, aiming to spread knowledge about the oppression of women and express their commitment to supporting women’s rights. The organizations have played a significant role in the processes of improving women’s living conditions in postwar Guatemala. Many of these organizations are cooperatives, which are created by people who fight for a common goal and are characterized by the desire to work together for change. The members contribute on a equal basis, and share the control according to the one-vote principle.

Read moreIn depth with the backstrap weaving cooperatives in Guatemala

Doris Skelly is Making The Difference

Doris Skelly is Making The Difference

Doris Skelly lived in Guatemala from 1987-1988, working with women and children in the San Miguel and Santa Rita areas of Xela. For years she maintained connections with these families that she came to know and love, and, as she puts it, “I left a part of my heart with them.”

Doris Skelly with Erin Kökdil, former Executive Director, Maya Traditions Foundation 2013-2016

Though she was unable to stay in Guatemala long term, her life had been forever changed by the experience of living and serving there. When she returned to New York City she taught art in a local school with an ethically diverse population and remained there until her retirement. Since then she has dedicated herself to helping students who have difficulties with reading and writing in English.

Read moreDoris Skelly is Making The Difference