Several years ago, the local parish of the Catholic Church in Gisagara District, a southern province in Rwanda, chose several vulnerable children to participate in a year-long program to learn how to basket-weave and in turn provide for themselves and their families. Each of the participants were orphans who were also charged with taking care of their younger siblings and/or elders. Among these children were Sixbert, Media, and Clementine (pictured above).

When their training was complete, and now that they were adults, the three friends decided to join their skills together to build a business. They formed the Amizero Cooperative and are now part of Azizi Life, a partner of Jesus’ Economy. Azizi Life, a fair trade organization dedicated to working with artisans who receive fair wages for their labor, represents 25 independent artisan groups throughout Rwanda. The income the creators earn helps them maintain their businesses and provide for their families, including now having access to medical insurance, school supplies, healthier foods, and financial independence. Azizi Life is transforming Rwandan communities through artists like Sixbert, Media, and Clementine.

A few years ago, Sixbert and Media got married, and now they are building a family. With the money they have earned from their business, they have been able to construct a home with electricity and water for their family, and Clementine has been able to buy land locally.

Sixbert, Media, and Clementine’s specialty is creating home goods from hand twisted banana twine. Leaves and stalks of banana trees are a renewable resource in Rwanda, and if they are woven skillfully, the products will be sturdy and last for many years.

Banana Twine Panier from Rwanda

Together Sixbert, Media, and Clementine are running a successful business, and it is their togetherness and their craft that is leading them toward amizero: hope.

Shop Amizero Cooperative Products

 

It's getting chilly, and in some places, downright cold. And if you work in an office and you're a woman, more than likely you're freezing every day at work. Unless you're in the bathroom, which we all know is the warmest place in the office. But you can't spend your whole day in there. (Not that you'd want to either.) So what's a smart, working woman to do? You could try to keep remembering a sweater every day that coordinates with your outfit while being thick enough to keep your warm. Or, you could snag one of our beautiful ponchos  that'll pair well with any outfit and keep you toasty warm at the office.

Check out our newest ponchos from Nepal! And don't forget to use promo code JE4HOLIDAYS to save 15% on your purchase of $45 or more. (Psst! That makes each of these around $42!) 

Ponchos from Nepal: Chili

 

Ponchos from Nepal: Moss

Ponchos from Nepal: Soft Brown

Ponchos from Nepal: Scarlett

Our Fair Trade Shop has many more ponchos in great colors along with scarves and shrugs that will help during spring and fall in the office. 

One of the greatest features of Fair Trade products is their bright, colorful and inspired designs that are sure to spark a conversation with someone. When pieces are unique or colorful, people are drawn to it and tend to want to know where it came from. This is when items from Jesus Economy can really shine because you have the opportunity to share with them all that fair trade item does.

Here's a few products from our Fair Trade Shop that'll be sure to start a conversation. 

Cross Body Bags from Guatemala in Emerald Green

Baskets from Rwanda: Teardrop Tri-Color

Belts from Guatemala: 47" with Horn Buckle

Earrings from Haiti: Mafi Pendant in Blue

 

Tote Bags from Haiti: Afrique

Baskets from Rwanda: Constellation in Tea and Bordeaux with Border

Pillows from Haiti: Canvas and Leather Nouveau

Table Napkin Sets from Guatemala: Berry Jubilee Striped

There's still a week left to Fair Trade Month, so grab your Fair Trade item and get ready to tell all your friends why it's a piece of hope. 

 

October is Fair Trade Month, and that means now is the perfect time to learn about fair trade. Whether you shop fair trade exclusively, or know nothing about it at all, this is the place to be. Here are 5 things to know about shopping fair trade from Jesus’ Economy.

1. Fair Trade Improves the Global Economy

Fair trade is a way of exchanging goods for fair compensation. This means that people who make products are paid the correct amount of money for the work they’ve completed. In many of the countries Jesus’ Economy has partners in, being paid justly isn’t a normal thing. But when people aren’t paid fairly for the work they’ve done, their whole family suffers. It becomes harder to pay for food, shelter, and education, and the cycle of poverty continues.

When artisans are able to sell their products fairly, their individual finances improve. When many people in a community experience improved personal economy, their community also sees an improvement. Money is no longer just changing hands within the community, it is now coming in on a larger scale and coming from other countries. And when communities grow economically, so does the world economy.

2. Fair Trade Helps Alleviate Poverty

Jesus’ Economy partners with cooperatives around the world that create products to sell internationally. These products are sold for the fair amount of money, and the artisans who’ve made the products are better able to support their families. With more money coming in, men and women can pay for food and shelter, and even for their children to go to school. When their children go to school, the future becomes brighter for everyone.

3. Fair Trade Teaches Us about Other Cultures

International fair trade products are a great way to experience culture from around the world. Many of the cooperatives we partner with incorporate traditional designs into their products to celebrate their heritage.

The scarves from Nepal, inspired by traditional nepalese fashion, are just one of many wonderful products that are beautiful, practical, and honor the country they come from.

All of the aprons from Guatemala have colors and patterns that incorporate traditional Mayan design, helping to inspire you while you cook. 

4. Fair Trade is Environmentally Friendly

The artisans we work with responsibly use sustainable materials from around their communities. 2nd Story Goods uses recycled aluminum to create pendants for jewelry, sweet grass to weave baskets, and locally sourced goat leather to cover journals. Many retail clothing and jewelry makers use chemical dyes and non-renewable materials, but these artisans are creating goods that love the earth and eliminate waste.

 

5. Fair Trade Brings People Together

There is a real connection to be made when you shop fair trade. When you wear a scarf from Haiti, you can pray for the hands that made it and know that your purchase is helping a family gain financial stability. When you carry a goat leather wallet, you know that it was made by people who are working hard to create hope for themselves.

And when you wear your fairly traded necklace or set a fairly traded trivet on your table, you can tell the story about where it’s from and why it matters.

This October, think about shopping fair trade. And with Christmas coming up, maybe you can get ahead on some gift buying!

This post was previously published under the title "5 Things to Know about Fair Trade." 

Sometimes all you need is just a little bling; a little bling to brighten your day when you glance at it, no matter what kind of day you're having. 

These products from the Fair Trade Shop have just the right amount of bling combined with the power of economic justice. When you look at the piece, not only will the shine brighten your day, it will brighten your smile because it will remind you of the income you helped provide for a family. All with one simple purchase. 

Golden Grass Products

The beautiful capim dourado or 'golden grass' used in our Brazilian woven grass collections can be found growing in the Tocantins region of Brazil, where our artist partners, Raimunda and Moracir, live. It is a protected resource, and its raw grasses cannot be exported. Only the finished grass products of the indigenous peoples of Brazil can be brought into your home--making these items unique and valuable. It is durable, flexible and lightweight, making it perfect for jewelry and basket making. 

EARRINGS FROM BRAZIL: GOLDEN GRASS UNITY PENDANT (SMALL)

BRACELETS FROM BRAZIL: SEGMENTO GOLDEN GRASS

EARRINGS FROM BRAZIL: SOLTA GOLDEN GRASS PENDANTS

BRACELETS FROM BRAZIL: SOLTA GOLDEN GRASS BANGLE IN YELLOW


NECKLACES FROM BRAZIL: SWIRLING COILS GOLDEN GRASS

TRIVETS FROM BRAZIL: PADRÃO GOLDEN GRASS

BASKETS FROM BRAZIL: GOLDEN GRASS CESTA TRANÇITA

Find so many more golden grass products from Brazil in our Fair Trade Shop, plus even more products that, depending on your style, might just be your kind of bling to brighten your day.

Many of the products we use day-to-day are made from woven fabrics, and while machine-woven products are often cheaper, hand-woven products are better for job creation, better for the environment, and they tell beautiful stories.

Here are three reasons why you should consider buying hand-woven products.

1. Hand-woven products are made by real people

Machines may be quicker, but when real people use their skills to hand weave fabrics, jobs are created. Millions of people around the world live in poverty, and businesses that sell hand-woven products create hundreds of valuable jobs that make a positive impact on the global economy. Additionally, hand-woven fabrics are higher quality because mistakes can be caught and fixed easier by a person than by a machine.  

2. Hand-woven products are made with less energy

Hand-woven products don’t use heavy machinery, and because of this, these products are better for the environment. They are not made in factories that emit greenhouse gases, rather they are made carefully by people who care. Many hand-woven products are made from sustainable, renewable resources such as cotton and natural dyes, while factory-woven products are typically made from whatever is cheapest and quickest, often with no regard for the environment.

3. Hand-woven products have heart and soul

When products are handmade, they are unique and carry stories with them. When you buy hand-woven products, you get to share those stories. Many fair trade artisans around the world create their products as a source of income so they can feed and support their families, build stability, and work toward breaking the cycle of poverty. Hand-woven fair trade is vital because it strengthens families and brings hope, and when you buy the products, you become part of that story. 

Shopping responsibly means looking at the bigger picture, and the big picture reveals that buying hand-woven products instead of machine-woven products can create jobs, limit factory pollution, and share stories.

The Fair Trade Shop at Jesus’ Economy.org has several hand-woven products that are gorgeous, practical, and durable.

Every Sunday, we will be featuring products from the Fair Trade Shop selected by a member of the Jesus' Economy team. Every product selected is one they've personally bought, used, and fallen in love with. 

This week's pick was selected by Charlotte Van Werven, intern in content production, producing one fabulous blog post after another. 

Kitchen Gift Set from Guatemala: "Stormy Blues" Pot Holder and Towel

 

Mayamam weavers are bringing intricate, handwoven pieces of Mayan culture to your home. This pot holder and towel set from Guatemala is made of sturdy, handwoven 100% cotton while incorporating traditional Mayan design. The pot holder features grippers and an insulbrite lining and the towel has a hanging loop. Plus, they're both machine washable and dryable. 

Charlotte is a a recent college graduate who is getting ready to go to grad school. She doesn't have time for hand wash items or products that won't hold up in her kitchen. Plus, since she's on a tight college budget, she can't afford to keep buying new ones after cheap quality ones fall apart. 

"The pot holder and towel set from Guatemala are some of my favorite things in my kitchen. They hold up in the wash, and they look really nice. To me, fair trade kitchen items are a no-brainer because I need and use them daily. I try to be responsible with my shopping, and that includes shopping fair trade and eliminating waste. These items let me do both!" - Charlotte 

Check out all the colors we offer in the pot holder and towel sets, plus all the kitchen towels and cloth napkins we have!

Every Sunday, we will be featuring products from the Fair Trade Shop selected by a member of the Jesus' Economy team. Every product selected is one they've personally bought, used, and fallen in love with. 

This week's pick was selected by Michael Freyberger, chief technology officer for Jesus' Economy. 

Aprons from Guatemala: Bistro

 

All of the aprons from Guatemala are inspired by the natural beauty of the area and incorporate traditional Mayan design. They're made from sturdy, handwoven 100% cotton and are easy to care for as they're durable enough for the washing machine and dryer. The bistro apron has 40" ties long enough to double around your waist and tie in the front along with a pocket. The pattern also comes in bib, with 32" ties for an adjustable fit with a double front pocket, and cross back, that has a cross-style open back. 

Michael purchased the bistro apron for his wife as she loves to cook and bake. When she's in the kitchen, she needs something that's comfortable while durable enough to be washed repeatedly without falling apart. 

"My wife got one of the aprons made in Guatemala and loved it, it was really well made and beautiful colors! The apron is so comfortable and so colorful! I love having it hanging in our kitchen, so I can always see it. Knowing that it was made and sold through an honest and ethical fair trade store makes it perfect!" - Michael

Look through our selection of aprons from Guatemala and choose yours so you can get cooking! 

Every Sunday, we will be featuring products from the Fair Trade Shop selected by a member of the Jesus' Economy team. Every product selected is one they've personally bought, used, and fallen in love with. 

This week's pick was selected by Kayli Thompson, blog editor-in-chief and manager of our Twitter and Facebook accounts. 

Tote Bags from Guatemala: Beach Tote in Stormy Blues 

In a green and fertile valley among the mountains of beautiful Guatemala, a group of determined women are weaving and sewing. They are changing their futures through the works they create and the wages and education they receive as a result. Mayamam weavers are bringing intricate, handwoven pieces of Mayan culture to your home, like this beach tote made of sturdy, handwoven cotton. It is lined with a waterproof, ripstop nylon and includes an interior zipper pocket. The cotton rope handles are knotted through brass grommets to give it that nautical look and feel. 

Kayli loves going to the beach and makes a point of going several times a year whether it's lakes or the ocean. This bag has become her trusty go-to whenever she's packing up for the beach. Being a single mom who needs to bring everything from sunscreen to sand toys to snacks to the beach, this tote works perfectly for her needs, fitting everything inside. 

"This beach tote has quickly become my favorite bag. I love totes as they are handy for more than just the beach and I've chosen this bag time and time again for every time I need to take tons of stuff some place. And, my daughter's water bottle cap wasn't screwed on tightly when she put it in the bag once and while it got my items wet, the bag stayed totally dry as the waterproof lining did its job! Love this bag, would choose it over and over again." - Kayli

Grab your beach tote from Guatemala then head to the beach! Or park, or gym, wherever really. 

Traveling can be a lot of fun, especially when it's recreational and not for business. But sometimes traveling can be stressful and complicated, especially if you're traveling overseas. We have a variety of travel items that'll lighten your load and make everything that comes with traveling just a little bit easier. And who couldn't use something that makes their life easier?

Stamped Leather Luggage Tags from Haiti

Made from 100% locally-sourced sheep goat skin, you'll never have a problem finding your bag with these tags. They are so unique that they will immediately stand out in the baggage carousel. Your purchase supports the work of skilled artisans in impoverished situations. Make a statement and find your bags quickly at the same time. 

Toiletry Bags from Guatemala: Navy Blue Herringbone 

This toiletry bag handwoven by Guatemalan artisans features sturdy cotton and a zipper top closure. The inside is lined with waterproof ripstop nylon so when one of your products leaks inside, it won't ruin the bag. It also has suspender style tie downs at each end so that the bag properly fits all your contents without having to squeeze it closed.

Sheepskin Leather Passport Covers from Haiti

The perfect traveling partner to hold your most valuable tool: your passport. You won't lose sight of your ID in this sturdy cover with elastic closure. These covers come in either sheepskin or goat leather. The golden color of the sheepskin and the caramel color of the goat leather are pleasing to the eye and the wardrobe. Enjoy the smooth feel of this cover when you pull it out for going through customs. 

Bags from Guatemala: Rolltop Backpack in Caramel

This rolltop backpack is perfect whether you're flying, roadtripping or getting away for a weekend. it's made from handwoven cotton canvas and has a corresponding fabric liner. There's a wide, center zippered pocket and a smaller side pocket on the side to store things you need to grab quickly like your passport and phone. And as a bonus, the straps are padded so you know your shoulders will be in comfort while you travel. 

Goat Leather Executive Portfolio from Haiti

This fair trade executive portfolio from Haiti has pockets for everything you need--from business cards to credit cards. Need a spot for your itinerary or important papers for traveling? This portfolio has it, plus blank pages for you to jot down anything you might need to while on the go. Keep all your important papers in the one item that's got your back: the executive portfolio from Haiti.  

You can't go wrong with travel products featured in our Fair Trade Shop - everything will make your trip easier and less stressful.  

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