Bangladesh Artisans

The InspirationAll the way back in late November 2013, Kristen Reffle, our merchandising coordinator, visited Bergen, Norway. Stepping out into the shops one evening, she found herself in awe of the holiday scene unfolding around her.

Twinkling lights shone in every window and in the streets, nestled amongst the simple, clean lines of ornaments shaped like stars, trees and hearts. Home décor items and Christmas decorations enticed shoppers to touch their cozy red and white felt.

That’s when she knew she wanted to create a new Christmas collection for Ten Thousand Villages that would feel Scandinavian, but adhere to the principles of fair trade.

“I wanted people to look at this collection and feel the cheerful warmth of Christmas,” she says now.

The collection’s name? Mistletoe.
When you enter our stores or visit us online, you likely won’t know the names of our five holiday collections: Silver Bells, Patchwork, Woodlands, Holiday Sparkle, and Mistletoe. But you’ll know how they make you feel. Each collection – items we group together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle – are meant to create a mood. Silver Bells feels trendy and contemporary. Patchwork is colourful, quirky and fun. Woodland is rustic and natural, while Holiday Sparkle seems rich, traditional and ornate. And Mistletoe?TTV_32995

“It’s for people who can’t get enough of Christmas!” says Reffle. “To me, Mistletoe just screams fun, traditional Christmas. You’ve got your reds, greens and holly. It’s very Scandinavian.”

It’s also very “hygge,” a Nordic cultural concept that doesn’t translate easily into English, but roughly means warmth, coziness and enjoying the good things in life with the people you love. Think sipping tea and wearing slippers in front of a fire with your family.

Some people believe hygge is partly the reason why northern countries such as Iceland, Denmark and Norway – despite their long and dreary winters – top the list of happiest countries on the planet, according to the 2015 World Happiness Report published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Canada ranks 5th.

Our Mistletoe collection, and its cheerful warmth, create happiness in another  place too though: Colombia.

While the South American country might seem worlds away from the icy North, it’s connected by the beautiful ornaments markers are handcrafting for us from corn clay. It’s a new material that is pliable and hardens well. Our Hearts And Stars Ornament Set is one example.

“They’re minimalist and simple in traditional holiday colours,” explains Diana Livia, Interim Merchandising Coordinator.

Sapia, our artisan partner, uses local ingredients to handcraft beautiful pieces for export. Ten Thousand Villages has recently started ordering more corn clay products from people at Sapia like Jackeline, a single mom of two teens and a six-year-old in Bogota.

Crafting little items like nativities and ornaments has changed her life. Working from home means she’s able to spend more time with her children and less time commuting. Jackeline hopes to buy her own apartment soon and pay for her kids’ college.jack

“It’s so nice to know that on the other side of the world there’s someone buying a little product I did in my small, humble home with my bare hands!” she says.

It seems happiness and joy start at home – no matter where we live.

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Lucky Rains Mug Flowering Heart Ornament Bright Holidays Ornament

Shop all new releases, including the Mistletoe collection, here.

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