Bangladesh Artisans

Kantha is a traditional form of embroidery that’s popular in Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal. For hundreds of years, women in India and Bangladesh used kantha stitching to create something to keep them warm. Using a small, straight running stitch, they took old pieces of cloth and sewed them together to create blankets, throws, scarves and shawls.

kantha throw

Now, a skill passed down from generation to generation, kantha refers to both the tradition of creating a beautiful and useful product out of discarded items, as well as the kantha craft itself, which features a signature running stitch. While kantha traditionally refers to upcycling old materials, some kantha items are now also made with new fabrics.

kantha throw

This beautiful, reversible kantha throw was handstitched by Najmeen. Najmeen is 29 years old and has been working with Prokritee for five years. Prokritee provides work for women in Bangladesh with little or no income. Makers work in a safe environment and are given a fair wage, which helps them take care of their families and send their children to school. Prokritee provided training for Najmeen and taught her how to do kantha stitching. This particular throw is made with recycled cotton fabric purchased from a local market in Bangladesh. It took Najmeen almost six days to make this kantha throw!

maker

Before Najmeen joined Prokritee, she and her family struggled to make ends meet.

“We didn’t have enough income to pay for food or give our children an education. We didn’t have enough money for medicine.”

After joining Prokritee though, things got better for Najmeen and her family.

“I am now able to buy good food and clothes for my family. I can now pay for my children’s education.”

Najmeen’s dream for the future is to continue giving her children an education so they can be literate and have successful futures.

kantha throw

Purchasing a kantha product is a wonderful way to reduce waste and empower makers like Najmeen. Visit our website to check out all our kantha throws, blankets, scarves and shawls.

During Guatemala’s civil war, the village of Chontola lost more than 40 husbands, fathers and brothers to the military’s “scorched earth” campaign in 1982. Many women became widowed and had few ways to support their families. These women were overwhelmed with farming, childcare duties and extreme poverty.

With nowhere else to turn, two Mayan Quiché women approached Diego Chicoj Ramos, a Methodist church pastor, and asked him and his wife, Juana, for help. Though their church had been burned to the ground and they had little to offer, they managed to secure seven pounds of thread. A small group of women took this thread and started to weave small items to sell in nearby markets. Soon, they were bringing income back to the community.

maker

In 1986, with new buyers in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, the group decided on the name, Ruth and Naomi, in reference to the Bible story of two widows who were without resources, but worked hard and survived.

maker

Today, Ruth and Naomi is comprised of six workshops, representing more than 60 makers. These makers weave bright pieces of cloth on looms in workshops and at home, creating products such as purses and bags. They use traditional Mayan huipiles, which are handwoven, embroidered blouses from the Chontola area, to create their beautiful, handcrafted designs.

maker

Ruth and Naomi also provide youth with scholarships, making it possible for teens to complete high school and go on to university.

mother and daughter

Visit our website to check out these stunning, handwoven designs from resilient makers in Guatemala.

Celestino

This is Celestino. He was living with his wife and young daughter in Santa Barbara, Peru when political violence forced them to leave.

“They killed my brother-in-law, a cousin and a nephew. Two other brothers-in-law went missing and another was put in jail. Three of my sisters are widows.”

Celestino left Santa Barbara with his wife and daughter and moved to a village outside of Huancavelica, his hometown. There, he bought a rustic loom and taught himself how to weave.

Celestino

In 2001, he started working with Allpa, a fair trade organization that aims to improve the living standards of handicraft producers by providing technical help, product development advice, skills training, tools and equipment. His work involved developing products and fulfilling export orders. Today, Celestino runs a sophisticated workshop with Allpa, providing good jobs to over 70 weavers (using improved looms) in Huancavelica, one of Peru’s poorest cities.

alpacas

Makers at Celestino’s workshop create textiles with alpaca fleece. Alpacas are raised in the foothills of the Andes, near Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia. Their fleece is sheared by Peruvian herdsman. Alpaca fleece is hand spun into yarn, dyed by hand and then handwoven by makers using an ancient technique. Each throw is then washed and ironed. It takes three days and five people to make an alpaca throw.

Watch this video to see some of the process.

*Video created by Allpa and used with their permission.

Unlike sheep’s wool, alpaca fleece does not contain lanolin, so it’s naturally hypoallergenic, warmer and softer.

Celestino is proud to say that his textiles travel around the world and reach homes in Europe, North America, Japan and Australia.

tag

Stay warm and cozy this winter with beautiful, handcrafted alpaca throws.

Happy New Year! The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on the past year and make goals for the year ahead. Here are a few of our tips for making 2020 great.

Make a realistic resolution

blue leather journal

Make sure your resolution for the New Year is realistic. Set yourself up for success by striving for a goal that is attainable. Once you have decided on a goal that is doable for yourself, make a plan to achieve that goal and write that plan down in a journal. Create an outline of how and when you’ll reach your goal and use that journal to keep yourself on track and accountable. This blue leather journal was handcrafted by makers working with Noah’s Ark in India.

Get organized with baskets

baskets

Start the New Year off right and get organized in 2020. Baskets make great, time-saving, storage solutions and they look great too. Are toys scattered throughout your house? Keep toys, books and games in colourful baskets. Can’t find important paperwork? Keep important documents in a safe and handy magazine holder. Are clothes and knitwear being left all over the place? Keep them tidy and together in baskets. These baskets were handwoven by makers in Bangladesh.

magazine holder
basket

Practice self-care regularly

soap

Make self-care a priority this year. Light a candle and draw a bath once a week to relax your mind and body. Make time for yourself so you can read a book or just listen to music. Whatever form self-care takes for you, make sure you make it a priority this year. Your mind and body will thank you. This eucalyptus-scented soap was handmade by makers working with Palam Rural Centre in India.

What are your tips for the New Year? Let us know in the comments below!

Not sure what to get her for Christmas? This holiday season, give meaning. Every handcrafted gift from Ten Thousand Villages feeds families, provides healthcare, sends children to school, helps to build safe homes and empowers women. With every purchase, we fight poverty and improve the lives of makers and their families around the world. Whether she’s your wife, sister or mom, she’ll love unwrapping these unique gifts that give back on Christmas morning.

Handcrafted Jewellery

handcrafted jewellery

This Christmas, surprise her with a new necklace, bracelet or set of earrings. This sterling silver jewellery was handcrafted in Peru by the makers of Allpa. Allpa aims to improve the living standards of handicraft producers in Lima by providing technical help, product development advice, skills training, tools and equipment.

Cozy Scarves

cozy scarves

Gift her with a beautiful, cozy scarf that she can wear all winter long. Whether it’s made of viscose, chiffon or silk, all our scarves and shawls are handstitched by makers all over the world benefiting from a fair wage and safe working conditions.

Eco-leather Purses

eco-leather purses

Make her Christmas with a practical, environmentally friendly purse. These eco-leather handbags were handcrafted in India by the makers of CRC. Unlike the commercial leather industry, makers working with CRC tan leather products without using harmful chemicals. In other words, instead of using harmful substances, eco-leather is tanned using environmentally-friendly materials derived from sustainable tea bark extracts and waxes.

Divine Chocolate

divine chocolate

If she has a sweet tooth, gift her with her favourite chocolate bar, or try something new this holiday season. When you buy our chocolate, you improve the lives and opportunities of small-scale farmers.

What are you getting her for Christmas? Let us know in the comments below!

Not sure what to get him for Christmas? This holiday season, give meaning. Every handcrafted gift from Ten Thousand Villages feeds families, provides healthcare, sends children to school, helps to build safe homes and empowers women. With every purchase, we fight poverty and improve the lives of makers and their families around the world. Whether he’s your husband, brother or dad, he’ll love unwrapping these unique gifts that give back on Christmas morning.

Plaid Scarf

plaid scarf

If he’s a skier or snowboarder, he’ll love getting cozy knitwear for Christmas. This plaid chenille scarf was handwoven in Ecuador by the makers of Maquita. Maquita works with more than one hundred craft workshops in Ecuador providing marketing, production and design assistance to over 600 makers.

Cozy Socks

cozy socks

Skip ordinary socks this Christmas. These fair trade, organic cotton blend socks help change lives. Our friends at Conscious Step partner with non-profit organizations to fight poverty and support humanitarian causes around the world. This year, we’ve partnered with Conscious Step and The Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS) in Nepal to make our own socks that give back. Every pair purchased feeds 10 children nutritious snacks through KTS’ daycare and school programs.

Delicious Coffee

coffee

If he’s a coffee connoisseur, gift him with his favourite coffee or try something new this holiday season! When you buy our coffee, you help:

  • Children in Colombia get uniforms so they can attend school
  • Farmers in Peru receive education so they can cultivate healthy, organic food
  • Communities in the D.R. Congo access vaccinations to stop the spread of disease

Divine Chocolate

Divine chocolate

If he has a sweet tooth, gift him with his favourite chocolate bar or try something new this holiday season! When you buy our chocolate, you improve the lives and opportunities of small-scale farmers.

What are you getting him for Christmas? Let us know in the comments below!

kids toys

Now that the snow is here (at least in Ontario!) and the holiday season has arrived, it’s time to start shopping for Christmas gifts. Are you struggling with what and how much to get your kids for Christmas? Then we suggest the five gift rule:

  • Something they want
  • Something they need
  • Something to wear
  • Something to read
  • Something to do

Something they want

doll

This is probably the toy that’s at the top of their Christmas wish list or maybe it’s a fun and new toy to surprise them with! Whether it’s a toy they want or a toy they didn’t even know they wanted, it’s sure to make them smile. This adorable Kenyan school girl was hand sewn in Kenya by the makers of OTICART.

Something they need

journals

This could be an item they need for their room like a lamp or a desk, supplies they need for school like a new pencil case or set of markers, or equipment they need for a music or sports activity they participate in. These three colourful journals were handmade in the Philippines by the makers of Salay Handmade Paper.

Something to wear

scarf

This could be clothing for the upcoming winter season like sweaters, knitwear or boots, or maybe it’s attire for a different season or a winter getaway trip you’re taking. This cozy scarf was handstitched in Nepal by the makers of The Kumbeshwar Technical School (KTS). KTS operates an orphanage, a nursery, a primary school for children of impoverished families and a workplace daycare.

Something to read

books

This is the perfect chance to get them a brand new book they’ve never heard of that you think they’ll like. If your child is an avid reader, you can get them the next book in the series they’ve been reading and waiting for!

Something to do

game

This gift idea is the perfect chance to spend time together as a family. Whether its tickets to see a movie or tickets for an amusement park, it gives you the opportunity to bond and make memories. This solitaire game was handcrafted in Pakistan by makers working with Dominion Traders.

Do you know what you’re getting your kids for Christmas? Do you have a set of guidelines that you follow? Let us know in the comments below!

The holiday season is finally here and we are so excited for Christmas! Here are some tips for giving your home a holiday makeover.

Ornaments

flying pig ornament

Before you start decorating your Christmas tree, decide whether you’re going to decorate with modern, playful or a mix of ornaments. If you’re going a more contemporary route, Elle Décor suggests “giving your tree a minimalist twist with geometric gold ornaments.” If you’re going for something more fun, House and Home says that “incorporating playful pieces are a sweet addition that’s sure to appeal to the kid in us all.”

Stockings

stockings

Stockings aren’t just for hanging on fireplaces! They look great just about anywhere you can think of. Country Living suggests making “dressers, armoires, and other storage pieces fit for a visit from Santa by hanging stockings from their pulls and drawers.”

Pillows

snowflake pillow

Make your living room warm and cozy for the holiday season with decorative throw pillows. The more pillows, the better! As Country Living puts it, “is there any such thing as too many Christmas pillows?”

Garlands

garlands

Deck the halls with garland! House and Home suggests creating “a merry atmosphere with garland draped over ordinary items.” Add garland any place you can to make every inch of your home merry and bright.

Presents

presents under Christmas tree

Use beautifully wrapped presents as holiday décor! Elle Décor says “why spend all that time on wrapping gifts to perfection if you aren’t going to show them off?” Line a set of stairs with gifts or place them under your Christmas tree.

Do you have any holiday decorating tips? Let us know how you decorate your home for Christmas in the comments below!

Now that fall is in full swing, it’s time to put away your flip flops and get out your plaid. Fall is a big season for fashion. Here are our top four must-have accessories for autumn.

Brown Crossbody Purse

brown purse

The start of the fall season is a great chance to switch up your everyday purse. Forbes says that “one of the most perfect bags for fall is a brown crossbody.” There’s no need to worry about matching your outfit to your purse with a neutral crossbody bag. Simply put your essentials in this purse, swing it over your shoulder and you’re ready for wherever the day takes you!

Cozy Scarves

teal scarf

Stylish scarves are a great way to stay warm while adding a different dynamic to your outfit. Glowsly says that “scarves that keep your neck warm are a season must. Scarves are warm and cozy, but they’re also as glamorous as can be.” This season, try different ways to style your scarf! If you’re stuck in a rut and need new ideas for styling your scarf, then check out this video.

Tassel Earrings

tassel earrings

Tassels are on trend this season. Glowsly says that “tassels are a fun way of adding a slightly bohemian vibe to any look.” For your everyday look, go with tassel earrings in black, silver or gold. For a weekend look, try something bold and go with pink or blue tassel earrings.

Long Necklaces

long necklace

A long necklace instantly dresses up any basic look. Forbes says that “gold dainty necklaces are timeless, but elegant and long necklaces are especially suited for the fall.” This fall, look for a gold necklace that’s extra-long.

What are your must-have fall accessories? Let us know in the comments below!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we couldn’t be more excited to spend time with our families and eat all the yummy food. And if it’s your turn to host a Thanksgiving dinner this year, why not set the table with beautiful, globally responsible, handcrafted pieces from around the world? With every Ten Thousand Villages purchase, makers are paid fairly for their work which helps them to take care of their families. This Thanksgiving, set the table for your family with items that help families all over the world.

The Appetizers

cutting board

As guests are arriving to your Thanksgiving dinner, greet them with a charcuterie board filled with various delicious appetizers. HGTV suggests using a “larger tray to create a big cheese board for some pre-dinner snacking.”

The Centerpiece

centerpiece

An assortment of apples, pumpkins or gourds makes for an easy Thanksgiving themed centerpiece for your dinner table. Best Products says “tiny pumpkins are without a doubt, the perfect place setting for your Thanksgiving table. If a trip to the pumpkin patch isn’t in the cards for you this year, faux pumpkins (that you can reuse year after year!) will do in a pinch.” Just place them in a bowl or basket, and voilà, you’re done!

centerpiece

The Main Course

dishes

Now it’s time to serve the turkey and all the delicious side dishes! HGTV says that a “matching serving dish set is perfect for your turkey and smaller side dishes.”  

The Dessert

cake stand

Skip the pumpkin pie this year and try something different for dessert! Jillian Harris says that a “cake stand is the perfect way to showcase your baking skills when you have guests over.” She suggests stacking one with “cupcakes, delicious pastries or an indulgent cake.”

Do you have any Thanksgiving table decorating tips? Let us know how you decorate your table for Thanksgiving in the comments below!