I’m often asked about the women who make the products I sell through my online fair trade boutique, Bambootique. Customers like to know more about them, see pictures, and understand how I am sure the products are made under fair trade conditions. I thought highlighting one of my artisan groups would be an insightful way to shed light on the types of organizations my company supports.
One of my favorite fair trade organizations is Guardian Village Handicrafts (GVH). GVH is a non-profit headed by several American ex-pats and based in Kathmandu, Nepal, one of the world’s poorest cities. GVH runs a home for children who have come from abusive situations. Along with the children’s home they run an educational center where 30 or so women at a time, mainly single mothers, receive training on various vocational skills to support themselves and their children.
Ritu is one of the single mothers who has received training from GVH. Ritu’s husband abandoned her and her 1-year old daughter shortly after she was born. Like many uneducated young women, her options for employment seemed limited to begging or prostitution. Once she found GVH though Ritu received training in jewelry making and quickly began to earn enough income to provide for herself and her daughter, who recently turned 2.
Jewelry-making is just one of the vocational skills taught at GVH but it’s the skill where I come in. GVH ships their jewelry to a warehouse in the Midwest staffed by volunteers. I order jewelry from the warehouse and sell it online and at Bambootique events. I pay for the jewelry up front so the women receive payment before I ever sell each piece. In addition to the women earning a livable income from their jewelry making, a portion of the proceeds go back to support the children’s home so every cent of the price I pay goes back to do good.
I love Guardian Village Handicrafts for the stories of the incredibly hard-working women but I also just really love their jewelry! Each time I receive a new shipment it’s like Christmas for me. The women do much of their own designs as well as getting ideas from US fashion magazines, and they really have a good eye. The color combinations are really pretty and the type of beads they use are so interesting, from hand-blown glass to water buffalo bone to light-catching colored glass beads. It’s all so pretty and I haven’t seen a piece yet I didn’t like.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Ritu’s Necklace (Water Buffalo Bone)