Fair Trade: Sustaining Communities by Giving Back

Recently on a Traveling Mom retreat in Orlando, I met Megy Karydes from WorldShoppe.com.  We happened to sit next to each other during all the dinners during the retreat, and I listened intently to her tale about her Fair Trade business which works with more than 100 artisan cooperatives, non-governmental organizations and locally controlled small businesses in more than 30 countries including Asia, Africa, and Latin America.  I found it fascinating how she making a difference in people’s lives from so far away.  Megy was wearing some of the jewelry made by her company, and it was really beautiful.  Purchasing an item from World Shoppe.com not only helps provide income, dignity and hope to people in developing regions, but it also helps sustain the communities by promoting community development, healthcare and childcare, education and literacy training.  Please take a look at their site.

So, naturally, when I was contacted by a similar company to review their products, I was intrigued.

the leaky collectionThe Leakey Collection is another Fair Trade company that designs and manufactures contemporary jewelry, as well as home decor products.  The products are all hand-made by the Maasai women and men of Kenya.  Its founders actually live among the Maasai in Kenya’s rural Rift Valley.  Their collection promotes stability by encouraging disadvantaged populations to become participants rather than spectators in their society and economy.  Utilizing fair trade practices to provide sustainable income allows underprivileged communities to quickly attain ownership of land, create their own businesses and gain a better overall quality of life.

The collection is also unique in that it offers employment to over 1200 Kenyans.  The women work in the shade of acacia trees using mobile work stations.  Their work stations span over 150 miles across the Rift Valley.

The materials used are sustainable and include Zulugrass beads, fallen Acacia wood and fallen marula nut oil.  Each piece of Zulugrass is designed by the founders and assembled by Maasai women of Kenya.  The environmentally sustainable harvest of the grass, used to make the Zulugrass beads, works to preserve a wetland since the communities no longer burn the grass.  The grass beads are dyed using textile dyes.  The jewelry also contains hand-blown Czech glass beads and Japanese glass beads. These beads are known for reflecting the most striking rays of pure color.

The sample products that came from the Leakey Collection were impressive.  They have beautiful color quality and shine.  More importantly, I could feel the love of the people who have them made for the people of Kenya.  The packaging states that “5% of all purchases goes back to local communities in the form of education and health benefits.”  I hope they sell a lot of jewelry to help the people making it.  Meanwhile, go their web site and check it out, and please consider picking some up.

Disclosure: The Zulugrass products were provided to me to facilitate this review, but I was not asked to express any particular opinion.

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  1. This is really wonderful. I will definitely check out their site. What a great idea. Hope it really does help them.

  2. Wonderful piece! I’ll check out their website.

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