Bangladesh Artisans

Father’s Day is this weekend, can you believe it? If you’re unsure about what to get dad for Father’s Day, then check out our top 10 gift ideas. These gifts are sure to make dad’s day a great one.

Bicycle Chain Picture Frame

Bicycle Chain Picture Frame

Add your favourite picture of you and dad to a frame and you’ve got yourself a simple, yet sentimental Father’s Day gift. The frame pictured above was handcrafted from recycled bicycle chain by the makers of Noah’s Ark.

Wallet

Wallet

A wallet is a Father’s Day gift that dad will not only love but use every day. You can even surprise him by sticking a gift card inside! This wallet was hand-stitched by makers in Colombia and made with upcycled materials.

Socks That Provide Tuition

Socks

Keep it lighthearted this Father’s Day with a funky pair of socks. With the purchase of these socks, our friends at Conscious Step will make a donation to resource centres in India where children from marginalized communities are given the opportunity to learn, read and write.

Hammock

Blue hammock

Give dad the gift of relaxation this Father’s Day! He will love unwinding in a hammock on a warm summer day. This hammock was crocheted by makers working with Oyanca Artesania in Nicaragua.

Spectacle Stand

Spectacle stand

A glasses case or spectacle stand is the perfect Father’s Day gift for dads that wear glasses or forget where they put their glasses! This quirky spectacle stand was crafted by the makers of Asha Handicrafts Association.

Bottle Opener

Bottle opener

Cheers dad this Father’s Day with his favourite drink and a brand new bottle opener. Carried on for generations, Noah’s Ark makers pass this metalwork tradition from father to son.

Coffee

Fair Trade Coffee

Gift dad with his favourite coffee this Father’s Day and spend some quality time drinking it with him. If he’s a coffee connoisseur, he might enjoy trying something different. Pair some coffee with any one of the handmade ceramic mugs from our collection.

Chocolate

Fair Trade Chocolate

Dads who have a sweet tooth will love getting chocolate for Father’s Day. Gather his favourite chocolate bars together and arrange them in a basket. Have him try something new and give him one of our Divine chocolate bars.  

Hat

Winter hat

Dads who love winter and spend a lot of time outside will love getting a hat for Father’s Day. This warm and fuzzy hat was hand knitted using multi-coloured wool in Nepal.

Chess Set

Chess set

Spend some quality time with dad this Father’s Day and play a game with him. If he’s a fan of chess, gift him with a new chess set and then maybe let him win the next game. This chess set was hand carved by the makers of Dominion Traders.

What are you getting your dad for Father’s Day? Or what would be the perfect gift for you for Father’s Day? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for inspiration this Family Day? We’ve found some of the best events happening on Monday, February 18th.

British Columbia

Vancouver

Immerse Yourself in Education

The Museum of Vancouver

Admission: Free

Stop by the Museum of Vancouver to take a walk on the wild side and visit the Wild Things exhibit, discover captivating Haida stories including the Bear Mother, or travel back in time to learn about the city’s past from 1900 to 1970. An experience the entire family will enjoy!

The Vancouver Aquarium

Admission: Free for Children 12 and Under

Home to thousands of incredible ocean species and amazing aquatic life, the Vancouver Aquarium is the perfect outing for the whole family. Take in the breathtaking exhibits or watch an exciting lineup of educational shows.

Sidney

3-99: Fun for Everyone!

Lego Brick Festival at the Sidney Museum

10 AM to 4 PM

Admission: By Donation

Head over to the Sidney Museum to enjoy a LEGO wonderland complete with a 6 foot build by Robin Sather, a professional Canadian Lego Builder, interactive LEGO Mosaic Build, VicLug Lego Display and a LEGO scavenger hunt.

Victoria

Carve Creatively

Family Day Soapstone Carving Workshop at The Robert Bateman Centre

10 AM – 12 PM
Admission: $25 for Members, $30 for Non-Members

You may have seen the soapstone we carry at Ten Thousand Villages, like the Friendship Candleholder or the We Are Three Statue, but now you can create your own soapstone carving! Head over to the Robert Bateman Centre where participants will start with a pre-cut soapstone animal shape of their choosing and are guided into a step-by-step process through a 90-minute workshop.

*For ages 7 to adult, parents can either accompany their child free of charge, or purchase their own soapstone to carve*

 

Alberta

Edmonton

Get Outside!

Silver Skate Festival at Hawrelak Park

February 18th

1 PM to 5 PM

Admission: Free

Enjoy some good old-fashioned family fun at this winter celebration blending sport, recreation, arts and culture and more. Whether you’re hoping to go for a slip down an ice slide, hitch a ride on a horse drawn sleigh, or explore your way through a fort, there is something for everyone!

*There will be a Free Festival Shuttle from the University of Alberta.*

Calgary

Light up the Night

GLOW Downtown Winter Light Festival

February 14th– February 18th

5 PM to 11 PM

Admission: Free

Visit the heart of downtown Calgary as they illuminate the city throughout the weekend with one-of-a-kind interactive light displays, art, entertainment, food trucks and activities.  On Monday, enjoy a free family skate party at Brightside Hub complete with music, games and prizes!

 

Saskatchewan

Prince Albert

Embrace the Winter Wonderland

Waskesiu Snow Days at Prince Albert National Park

February 18th-25th

Admission: Free with Park Gate Entry

Gather the clan and head to Prince Albert National Park for some snow-filled adventure of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing or doing Metis inspired activities. Borrow cross-country skis, snowshoes and ice fishing equipment at the Hawood Inn, free of charge, or check out a winter geocache kit at the Visitor Centre and practice your treasure hunting skills with a modern day scavenger hunt!

Regina

Get Out and About!

Waskimo Winter Festival In and Around the Conexus Arts Centre

February 18th,

Admission: Free

Enjoy a day with the whole family—including your dog! Embrace the great outdoors through public skating, horse drawn sleigh rides, snow cricket, cross-country skiing and more. If that’s not enough, it’s the only day of the year that the public is allowed onto the ice of Wascana Lake. Be there for all the fun!

 

Ontario

Mississauga

Incredible Inflatables and More!

Kids Fest Toronto at the International Centre

February 16th to 18th

10 AM to 6 PM

Let the kids bounce, laugh, run and play at Kids Fest Toronto which spans over 80,000 square feet at the International Centre in Mississauga. With a variety of inflatables, shows, interactive activities, games, crafts and more, there is something for kids of all ages and perfect for a family day out!

Toronto

Take a Journey Back in Time

Family Day at Fort York

February 18th at Fort York

Admission: Free

Historic Buildings Open 10 AM to 5 PM

Fort York Skating Trail Open until 9 PM

Bring the family together to explore the past of Toronto by touring a historic kitchen from 1826 and sampling baking from the hearth, taking part in hands-on activities, pop-up shows and multi-dimensional exhibits. Make sure to bring your skates because The Bentway at Fort York public skating trail will be open until 9 PM!

Ottawa

Get Outside and Enjoy the Snow

Snowflake Kingdom at Winterlude

February 1st – 18th

Admission: Free, Some paid activities

Just over the bridge from Downtown Ottawa in the heart of Parc Jacques-Cartier is where super slides, magnificent snow sculptures, shows, a Kiddie Zone for toddlers and plenty more activities await you! This winter playground will get you out of the house, and definitely be a hit for the whole family!

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year filled with lots of love, laughter, and family and friends coming together.

 

With holiday get-togethers in full swing, finding the right hostess gift can be an added last-minute stress. Fortunately, you don’t have to show up empty handed or spend big money to show your gratitude. Gifts under $25 work best, say many etiquette experts.

 

In fact, there are tricks to make seasonal gifting easier too. For instance buy a few of the same item, and wrap them up, so you’ll be party-ready all season long.

 

Here are a few ideas to navigate the season with ease.

 

  1. One word: Food

There’s a reason so many partygoers show up with a bottle of wine or a box of chocolate. Unlike other gift options that tend to clutter the house, food and drinkare enjoyed – and then gone. Candies, cookies and other treats such as confectionaries all work well too.

 

Try these:

Divine Raspberry Dark Chocolate

Indulge your sweet tooth and help break the cycle of poverty for small-scale cocoa farmers. This decadent bar from Divine combines 70% dark chocolate with the fruity tartness of real raspberries.

 

Organic Milk Hot Chocolate

Curl up with Camino and bring back the tastes of childhood. Made with Fair Trade, organic cocoa from the Dominican Republic, and organic sugar from Paraguay, this luxury beverage is both GMO-free and certified Kosher.

 

Friendship Organics Blueberry Decaf Tea

A unique blend of decaffeinated black teas combined with organic, wild blueberries.

 

Along with a set of:

Silver & White Mosaic Coasters (6)

Keep water rings at bay with this set of six neutral yet sparkling coasters created by makers in Moradabad, India. The glass chips are recycled glass taken from old bottles and other glass items. They are cleaned and coloured before use. The set comes in a box for easy storage.

 

  1. Flowers and plants

A holiday themed floral arrangement or even a Christmas cactus or poinsettia are sure winners too. But to be a really good guest, don’t expect the host to rush around finding a vase in the middle of the party. Arrive with the flowers ready to go in a simple, neutral vase or planter.

 

Try these:

Cold Cave Bud Vase

Imagine a single bloom in this modern vessel. Genuine stone has a coolness and weight that cannot be mimicked. And because this bud vase is made from real marble, each has a distinct colour and pattern of nature’s choosing. Handcrafted by stone workers with Dominion Traders, which works with underprivileged artisans who make stone and shesham wood crafts in the city of Karachi. 

 

Textured White Ceramic Cylinder Vase

Springtime bouquets get a contemporary lift from this textured vase created by ceramic makers in Nepal’s high mountainous areas. Artisan partner Nepali Craft Trading offers an education allowance for young girls and works with about 90 per cent women, training them so many can earn a living from home or in small local workshops.

 

Deep Blue Stripe Ceramic Planter

A smaller glazed striped planter with matching saucer. Viet Lam Company (Vilaco) is a private exporter that markets ceramics and lacquer-ware along with bamboo, palm leaf and rattan baskets. The company contracts orders from several factories and cooperatives in and around Ho Chi Minh City, providing piece rate work, materials for production and payment for labour costs. In some cases, maker families have been working together for generations, tracing the history of their workshop back more than 800 years. Bring indoors during winter months.

 

Geo Terracotta Planter

Flower and herbs take root in this whitewashed terracotta planter showcasing a geometric design. Makers form models, and then press clay into them before setting the clay outside to dry in the sun. Historically in Bangladesh, rains were mostly restricted to monsoon season, but terracotta makers have noticed rains are becoming much less predictable. Wet weather can ruin pieces, so they are worried climate change will cause a shortened work season. Please bring inside for winter.

 

  1. Small and sweet

No one wants to arrive at a party only to find themselves navigating a busy front hallway while clutching an oversized gift. Small and easy to carry? Absolutely. That works. Think guest soaps, lotions, scented candles or tree ornaments along with a nice card instead.

 

Try these:

Twinkle Star Ornaments (Set of 3)

Three sequined stars in a rainbow of colours. Each sequin is sewn on by hand by Noah’s Ark’s makers, who receive raw materials and are then paid a piece rate for each finished product.

 

Gingerbread Soap

Enjoy the sweet and spicy pleasure of our cinnamon-scented soap, handmade by makers of Palam Rural Centre in Tamil Nadu, India. Palam employs members of the Harijan (“untouchables”) caste, and provides healthcare and schooling for makers’ families. All our soaps made in India use palm oil grown on local plantations. This palm oil provides work to local farmers and does not contribute to deforestation.

 

Christmas Wish Star Bracelet

Celebrate the magic of the season with this simple beaded bracelet showcasing a metal star charm. Rather than commuting long distances to work in factories, cleaning houses or taking jobs as low-paid sales clerks, Sapia’s makers in Colombia often work from home and, most importantly, have stable and steady income.

 

  1. Next day gifts

After hours of cleaning, cooking and preparing for guests, hosts often don’t think about what they’ll eat the next morning after the last revelers have gone home. Leave a thoughtful basket behind full of fair trade coffee, jam, croissants and orange juice, and you’ll always be welcome again.

 

Try these:

Morning Glory Kaisa Basket

Woven grass baskets keep odds and ends tidy – especially when handles make them easy to hoist and hide. With ocean-hued, earth-friendly recycled plastic accents, this basket was created by women working with Dhaka Handicrafts, ensuring that makers in rural villages have fair wages, safe working conditions and use environmentally friendly processes.

 

Raffia Snowflake Basket

In Uganda, colourful baskets are traditionally given as gifts for holidays and special events. Fill this snowflake basket with clementines or pomegranates for a decorative centrepiece, or keep it by the door as a cheerfully coloured catch-all. Uganda Crafts employs approximately 300 artisans in five workshops or cooperatives, 85 percent of them women.

 

Red Stars Jute Basket

Baskets are so useful over the holidays, just the thing to keep clutter at bay – or to be filled with gifts to eliminate the need for wrapping paper. In Bangladesh, where this one is make by hand, jute is called the “golden fibre.” And no wonder. Being an annual crop, reed-like jute, which grows three metres high, can be planted and harvested each year, rather than deforesting entire areas. The fibre is also 100% biodegradable and recyclable.

 

Colombian Medium Roast Coffee (Ground)

Made with premium Arabica beans grown by small-scale farmers high in the Andes, this Colombian Medium Roast coffee offers sweet yet bold flavours with a balanced, clean aftertaste.

 

Premium Organic Dried Mango 

Sweet and delicious, these mangos are tree-ripened in the central mountains of Colombia to bring out their full flavour and natural sweetness.

 

Premium Organic Dried Pineapple

Give them a sweet morning pick-me-up with these dried pineapples. From the fertile valley of Santander, Colombia, the pineapples are picked when ripe to bring out their full flavour and natural sweetness.

Poor dad! According to recent data, people typically spend 50 per cent more on Mother’s Day than on Father’s Day. Of course moms are worth all the attention they get. Let’s face it, mothers do a lot – but fathers are increasingly catching up when it comes to time spent on childcare: 131 minutes per day, according to Statistics Canada.

While the most popular gifts for dad include meals out, clothing, books, music and electronics, meaningful fair trade gifts not only help us celebrate our own fathers, but make life better for maker and farming fathers around the world.

So we asked our staff one question: If you could pick anything from Ten Thousand Villages this year, what would you like to receive or give to dad on Father’s Day? Here’s what they told us.

 

Play it up

“I think my father would have liked to receive a Mancala set, the African bead game.  He would have appreciated it for its seeming simplicity, its endless variables for play and the way it challenges strategic thinking.”

— Lis, Hamilton location associate

 

“I really have my eye on the Mangowood Mancala Game! It seems like a neat game with a long African history. I like games that require strategy and planning. It seems like the perfect distraction for a rainy day at the lake!”

— Dave, marketing and design coordinator

“One of the games, in particular the fish mancala board. Games are good for quality family time.”

— Gregg, Hamilton location associate

 

 

Sip and savour

“The exquisitely hand-blown Phoenician glass in aqua makes me feel the fusion of the West Bank and Hebron, indeed of our wider fair trade world!  An ice-cold beverage helps takes the edge off the intense heat of summer and the natural glass feels so delightful in one’s hand.”

— Ian, Hamilton location store manager

 

“Divine Chocolate! Honestly, it’s the best tasting chocolate I’ve ever had.  Definitely a guilty pleasure.”

— Drew, director of sales

 

 

Lazy days in the backyard

 

“My dad will love a summer fun hammock chair!”

— Manisha, Danforth staff member

“My husband works hard around the house and I never have to ask him to get things done, so I’d like to treat him to the gift of relaxation this year with the navy dreams hammock.  This will look great in the yard and is made of soft crochet cotton so I know he’ll enjoy relaxing when his chores are done.”

— Andrea, e-commerce sales and business development coordinator

 

 

“I will give to my dad the large blue skies planter for his patio.”

— Angela, Danforth staff member

 

 

Quirky dad gifts

 

“I choose the Nosey Spectacle Stand that holds reading glasses. I think that’s a very useful gift because many times people are losing their glasses. It will be handy if they have a place to keep them.”

— Ilias, Danforth location store manager

 

“My dad has an obsession with clocks—working or not; Grandfather clocks, table clocks, alarm clocks, pocket watches. For Father’s Day, I’ve been looking at the Time to Cruise Hanging Clock that is made from recycled bike chains in India. My dad may have a lot of clocks, but none of them have a beautiful story of hope behind them like this one does!”

— Kathleen, digital marketing specialist

 

 

It’s officially wedding season!

Exchanging vows, tossing the bouquet, and quirky, hilarious and heartfelt speeches are just a few  Canadian wedding traditions.

Have you ever been curious about wedding traditions in other countries?

At Ten Thousand Villages, we work with artisan partners from many countries and cultures around the world—and we love learning about their customs! Weddings may be a universal tradition, but each country has their own beloved rituals that make their special day memorable.

Here are some beautiful wedding traditions from around the globe:

 

India: Beautiful Body Art

There are many beautiful customs in Indian weddings, but one of the most beloved and well-known is the Mehndi ceremony. Most people are familiar with the Indian tradition of henna among female wedding guests. Prior to the wedding, intricate designs are hand-painted directly on the bride’s skin with a paste made from dried and powdered henna leaves. The artwork often includes paisley, flowers, and vines—and sometimes the henna artist will hide the groom’s initials within the design! Mehndi art symbolizes joy, beauty, hope and love.

 

Vietnam: What White Wedding?

There are no white weddings here! In Vietnam, the colour red symbolizes good luck; so the choices of attire and décor at most Vietnamese weddings is red! Often the groom’s family will visit the home of the bride’s parents with offerings of wine, fruit and cake that is either wrapped in red paper or attractively laid out on red platters. Vietnamese people believe that odd numbers and the colour red will bring good luck to the couple.

 

Phillipines: Release the Doves!

Doves are a symbol of peace and love. In the Philipines, the happy couple release a pair of white doves, one male, the other female, during the reception to symbolize a harmonious life together.

 

Kenya: Wishing Good Luck!

In the Masai culture, it is not uncommon for the father of the bride to spit on his daughter as she leaves the village with her new husband. The Masai people of Kenya strongly believe that by being disrespectful rather than celebrating and praising excessively, they avoid tempting fate and welcoming bad luck to the marriage.

 

Peru: A Little More Than Cake!

At Peruvian weddings, rather than a bouquet toss, the cake is typically the center of attention for eligible singles. Assembled with hanging ribbons and one inexpensive ring embedded in the center, single women pull ribbons from the cake – the one who pulls the ribbon with the ring is said to be the next to get married!

At Ten Thousand Villages, we work with over 20,000 makers. Of those 20,000 many of those are women.

Not only do these women earn a sustainable income and develop new skills, they are able provide for their families; whether it is having flexible working hours to tend for their children and household duties, or that they are able to pick up the supplies to work from their home, these makers are forging a brighter future.

With Mother’s Day approaching, we wanted to share the stories of some of our maker mothers in fair trade. Each story reflects strength, hard work and hope.

In Hajiganj Handicrafts, a small workshop located near Saidpur, Rashida takes a few seconds to look after her eigh-month-old son Shumy, all the while holding with her feet the lid of a basked made with kaisa grass and palm leaves. For nearly 10 years, this work has enabled her to provide for herself and her children.

 

Jenny, maker with Sapia, Colombia:

“I dream to have the resources to give my children a good education and that they can become professionals. I dream they will graduate from college. “

“Before joining Sapia, I had another job in a company and I had almost no time to share with my family. The biggest one has been to have time with my family. Sharing with my kids and be aware of the children. Besides I have had the fortune of generating income to improve my home and the quality of life.”

 

Jothi maker with Blue Mango, India:

“Blue Mango is good to my family by giving me a steady income and helping to educate our children.”

“I joined Blue Mango in 2012 because we needed the money.  Blue Mango is my first job outside the home.”

“My two daughters go to the Blue Mango Tuition Center and are studying well.”

“Right now we’re concentrating on our kids’ education. I hope to stay for a long time as my savings will allow me to fulfill my dream of sending my children to school, giving them the chance I never had”

 

Joyanti from Prokritee, Bangladesh:

“Currently, I am really happy with the financial condition of my family. Jobarpar has saved the lives of my kids and mine.”

“Working with Jobarpar Enterprise (JE) has not only given me an opportunity to support my family but also made me a respectable member in my community.”

“I come from a poor family who often struggled to provide me the basic needs to subsist. When I was just 16, my parents arranged my marriage with a local man whose family’s financial condition was no better than mine, if not worse. Nevertheless, I didn’t complain and became a good housewife–just like I was supposed to be. Within a few years into my marriage, I was blessed with two beautiful children, whose existence only made things worse for my husband. He was constantly struggling to bear the family expenses; and suddenly one day, due to the extreme fatigue he was going through, he fell sick. Things started going downhill for my family from that point, as the doctors told me that my husband wouldn’t be able work anymore.”

“I decided to leave my post as a housewife and start looking for a job. It’s uncommon for a woman to be the breadwinner in a Bangladeshi family, so my husband hesitated at first; but after considering the family’s dire financial condition, my husband supported my resolution.”

“For a while, I was only doing odd jobs, until I stumbled upon Jobarpar Enterprise in the year of 1999. The managers of Jobarpar Enterprise were kind to me and gave me a job, even though I had no prior experience of paper making. Thus, I began my wonderful journey with Jobarpar Enterprise.”

“Both of my kids go to school. My son is studying in 12th grade and my daughter is in 9th grade. I want to see my kids become successful members of my community. I want to see them living fulfilling lives of their own.

“My husband is doing well now, as I am able to afford a better medical care for him. He runs a drugstore in our village. Also, I paid off all my loans that I took from local NGOs. Moreover, with the saved up money from my provident fund, I have recently bought a piece of land in my village, and I plan on building a house for my family there.”

“I am really thankful to Jobarpar Enterprise, as well as Prokritee, the parent organization of JE, for providing me the opportunity to support my family and implementing fair trade policies into its system.”

 

Without our volunteers, we couldn’t do everything we do. Volunteers are essential to the mission of Ten Thousand Villages.

Our volunteers share their time on a weekly or monthly basis depending on their interest and availability. For some, it could be a half day every week, while others volunteer more or less. Herb and his wife, Shirley, have volunteered with Ten Thousand Villages since 2003. Initially, they volunteered 3 days a week but have since reduced their schedule to a half day once per week.

At Ten Thousand Villages, we are passionate about creating economic opportunities for our artisan partners, enabling them to build a better life for their families through fair trade. To accomplish our mission, we rely on caring, determined individuals who hold a deep respect for the artisans that we work with.

Our volunteers span all age ranges, come from diverse backgrounds, and share a wide variety of skills. Karen was an ESL teacher working part time with people from around the world. To fill her time she began volunteering, and now Karen enjoys educating customers with artisan stories and information about product in our stores.

According to Karen, her volunteer shifts tend to be consistent, unless it’s the Christmas season or particularly busy in the store. Karen, who has volunteered at the Waterloo location for 6 years, spends her shifts assisting with day-to-day store operations.

“I do a lot of restocking, customer service, unpacking new shipments, merchandising and reading about new products,” Karen said. Other duties include maintaining the store’s cleanliness, ringing in sales, and other tasks to help with store functions.

“There’s a lot of interacting with customers. You get to meet really nice people that are kind of in alignment with how you think. The best thing about volunteering with Ten Thousand Villages is when people come in and you get to educate them on the products and artisan stories. Maybe they are a returning customer, or maybe I’ve just enlightened someone!” chimed Janet.

Janet has volunteered with Ten Thousand Villages for approximately 10 years. She currently volunteers at the Waterloo location.

Volunteering at Head Office in New Hamburg is a bit different, however, as tasks vary from week to week. One day, you could be placing price stickers on the products, the next time you could be counting items. “Today, I’m counting marbles!” Rosemary smiled. Rosemary began volunteering 5 years ago. “I was shopping at the tent sale and I noticed a sign looking for volunteers. I’ve met so many new people, and you’re doing work that’s worthwhile! You’re making a difference. It’s important.”

Regardless of where our volunteers work within the organization or the paths they take to join us, our volunteers are the heart of our team. We couldn’t accomplish our mission without their support.

Interested in learning more about volunteering with Ten Thousand Villages? Click here.

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Goodbye grey, bleak and dismal days. This spring, home décor is heating up. Whether your living room needs a sprucing up, or you want to give your bedroom a fresh, new look, here are some of this season’s most inspired design trends sure to put a little spring in your step.

 

Go global

Ever visit a far-flung country and decide you’ve got to bring some of the region’s handcrafted flare back to your own home? You’re in luck. Travel-inspired interiors are gaining traction this year. Think earthy terracotta and globally influenced prints. Textiles and materials feel raw, natural and handcrafted. (And yes, Ten Thousand Villages has always been known to shine in this area. After all, our products come direct from dozens of countries – and thousands of makers – around the world.)

Shop the look: Flower Power Tablecloth ($80); Multi-Squares Peace Quilt ($125); Lily Raffia Basket Bowl ($48)

 

It’s about texture

From embellishments to appliqué, if it feels good under your fingers, it’s got to go in the home. Ceramic is often flat mat with raised textures. Look out for fringes, tufts and tassels too. They add a fabulously handcrafted quality to a room.

Shop the look: Diamond Textured Blue Ceramic Vase ($48); Flower Patch Cushion Cover ($45); Black Stripes Fringed Alpaca Throw ($189); Birds of a Feather Cushion Cover ($39)

 

Colour – and lots of it!

Goodbye beige. This year, colours are bigger, bolder and way more vibrant. (Want to wallpaper your ceiling in bright blue? It’s a thing.) Look out for ice cream pastels, moody indigo and pops of pink, purple and orange. Or better yet, try out the new “maximalism” trend and double up with colours and textures.

Shop the look: Multi-coloured Paisley Tablecloth ($80); All Reds Dotted Peace Quilt ($125); Turquoise Band Mangowood Cake Tray ($38)

 

Metal-mania

Metal accents are still in vogue this spring and are popping up in everything from gold-coloured hardware to wall-hangings, table lamps and beyond. Circular mirrors give rooms a contemporary lift too.

Shop the look: Hammered Round Mirror ($120); Asymmetrical Jali Cut Candleholder ($18); Embossed Decorative Bowls ($68)

 

Go for green

Foliage and even more foliage. That’s the “it” look on the horizon. Forget last year’s tiny succulents though and embrace the humble houseplant instead. Lush, green and springtime bright, when it comes to filling the house with plants, the more the merrier. Just don’t forget to find equally inspired – and fair trade – containers to hold them. Some are crafted from recycled materials making it easy to go green in more ways than one.

Shop the look: Sky Blue Bottom Ceramic Planter ($34); Turquoise Square Recycled Tire Planter ($38)

Tired of braving the snow and ice this winter? You’re not the only one. According to Expedia’s most recent Flip Flop Report, 50 per cent of Canadians say leaving behind winter blues is one of the most attractive reasons to travel to destinations that offer sand, surf and sun.

 

But figuring out what to pack can lead to headaches at this time of year. Do you bring winter boots and sandals? A heavy coat and tank tops? What about toys to keep restless kids entertained on road trips or while in the air?

 

Whether you’re a family heading south for March Break, adventure seekers looking for their next escapade, or students wanting to blow off some steam in the sun, here are a few travel-happy – and fair trade – products to make your time away even better.

If you’ve got kids

Going on a long car trip doesn’t have to be a chore if you have children in tow. Just pack lots of snacks, books and toys to keep them entertained. For instance, let them put on a finger puppet show in the backseat. Or show them how to play chess. The Menagerie Memory Game is a good bet when travelling by plane and you have a tray to spread out on. Meanwhile, older kids might like to scribble away in their very own journal to keep boredom at bay.

If you just need a little Om

Sunny yoga retreats are hot when the weather grows cold back home. Pack for the adventure by toting your mat in a Hatha Yoga Mat Bag, which is hand-loomed in Nepal. Or keep your shoulders relaxed (and hands free) by using an eco-happy Cork Backpack while exploring the area nearby. Meanwhile, keep stray hairs in place while getting warmed up and bendy with a Zari Flower Headband or Zari Leaf Headband. Don’t forget to give feet a swipe with a body scrubber to make them beach-ready in no time.

If reading week means travel week

University and college students, take note: there are so many ways you can make your spring break vacation meaningful and fun. Try a volunteer vacation. In some cases, you can save mega travel dollars by giving back while seeing the world – even if only for a week. Care for endangered animals, teach English or French, or help build schools overseas. Don’t forget to pack travel gear that keeps the do-good spirit alive: either a fair trade Nepal Weave Cosmetics Bag or a Kantha Toiletry Bag does the trick. Ready to explore a bustling city or nearby town? Keep valuables, passports and phones close with a cross-body Patterned Adventure Bag.

 

 

If a staycation is in the cards

Can’t go south this year? No matter. Sipping Chili & Spice Hot Chocolate Mix or Friendship Organics Moroccan Mint Tea adds warmth to your afternoon. Take a Latin dance class and dress up with a colourful Beads Aplenty Necklace. Or run a bath and crack open a Serenity Body Care Kit for a little “me time.” With its candles, soap, incense and textured scrubber, soon wintertime weather will seem miles away.

This February 14, many of us will buy roses or book a table at a swishy restaurant to share a meal with our longtime love or more recent date. At least 30 per cent of Canadians say they consider Valentine’s Day a special holiday worth celebrating according to 2016 data. At the very least, we’ll send Valentine cards: 40 million are exchanged in this country every year.

 

But while Valentine’s Day holds a special significance, love – true love – is hardly a one-day event. It requires patience, humour and a meeting of minds.

 

Just ask Hani Duarsa and Agung Alit, founders of Mitra Bali, our fair trade artisan partner in Bali, Indonesia, which crafts anything from coasters to colourful bags and kites. Last year they travelled to Canada and sat down with us for a fascinating (and freewheeling) interview that touched on politics, fair trade, tourism, culture and Indonesia’s troubled past. But Hani and Agung had a special treat for us too: they discussed their own personal history and even shared the story about how they met, wed in 1993, started their fair trade organization and raised five children – only two being their own biological kids. Here’s what we learned:

Different worlds

By all rights, Hani and Agung’s union is unique. Indonesia adheres to a caste system, and although Hani was of the lower, common caste – making a marriage to Agung a fortuitous match for her, her parents had reservations about her marrying him.

 

Agung was considered a “son of a communist.” Tragically, his family had been caught up in the mass killing of communists and communist-sympathizers in 1965 and 1966 during the assent of the new order autocratic regime of President Suharto. His father and six uncles were murdered. His mother and stepmother, a teacher, were forced to flee.

 

Even 25 years later, political and cultural scars remained, and Agung was stigmatized, finding it hard to find work or even get an education.

 

In the end, it didn’t matter

Fortunately, Agung, smart and driven, beat the odds and did what he had to do to survive – and thrive.

 

“Because I’m wild, I learned guitar,” he says now. “I speak English. That helped me a lot.”

 

Eventually he made it to law school where Hani was also studying law. But Hani too had a bit of a wild side. Although she came from a large, musical family, her parents were adamant that she not become a musician. They wanted a different life for their daughter.

 

But one night she left the house wearing a proper, conservative dress her parents approved of – and then changed into clothes fit for the stage. One of Indonesia’s most famous musicians had asked her to jam with the band and there was no way she’d say no. Playing the keyboards that night, she looked out into the audience and spotted Agung.

 

“I saw him dancing like crazy. I was curious. Who is this guy?” she says, laughing.

 

While Hani was an elegant “city girl,” Agung saw himself as a “county bumpkin.” Although they led a social activism club, it took a while for Agung to realize that she was interested in him too.

 

“I didn’t know whether she really liked me or she felt sorry for me,” he says.

 

Starting Mitra Bali

She liked him. In 1993 the couple were married and soon launched Mitra Bali in order to help struggling makers earn a living from their crafts. Rather than take a large cut – or make artisans wait for months to be paid – Mitra Bali offers deposits and pays within a week. Today the couple works with 38 different maker groups and 250 artisans.

 

Hani and Agung also have two children: a 24-year-old son, Carlos Santana, and a daughter, 18-year-old Janis Santana (named for Janis Joplin – who else?!). They also raised three children who arrived from a poor village. Hani and Agung are proud of the adults their “adopted” kids have become.

 

Having a strong family life full of hope and love translates to what Hani and Agung have been able to accomplish at Mitra Bali. And as long as the orders keep coming in, the future is bright.

 

“I believe a wonderful world is possible,” says Agung. “We can do it together.”