Bangladesh Artisans

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!

Giving Change

We are not your typical retailer. We are a non-profit, social enterprise following the basic principles of fair trade. One of the key principles of fair trade is micro-financing.

In many of the communities that we work with, banking services are scarce and interest rates are excessively high. These financial barriers prevent maker groups from taking out loans to purchase materials they need to make their products. In an effort to reduce these financial blocks for makers and their families, we pay 50% of our invoice when we submit an order. We then pay the remaining 50% when we receive confirmation that the products have shipped. At times, this means that we could pay for products that we won’t actually sell for 6-12 months. However, this process relieves the financial burden for makers and their families, giving them the freedom to purchase materials they need to create their products, and in turn, allowing them to continue earning a fair wage for their work.

“I am sincerely grateful toward Ten Thousand Villages Canada. The orders they send us allow us to provide for ourselves.”

Ahmed

UPAP

Niger

With all that being said, we are proud and excited to introduce Giving Change. We developed the Giving Change program so we could continue to offer this interest-free micro-financing program to the groups we work with. Your donations will support our efforts to bridge the monetary gap between production and sale, and empower makers around the world, like Ahmed, through micro-financing.

Thank you for supporting our Giving Change program, our mission and our commitment to socially conscious retail. We believe that all people deserve to earn a fair and stable income – and we couldn’t do it without the support of our valued customers.

To make a contribution to Giving Change, please visit our website.

Happy first day of fall! Here at Ten Thousand Villages, we’re a little sad that summer days are over but we’re excited for all the fall things that autumn brings like pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather and scary movies. With Thanksgiving dinners and Halloween parties approaching, fall is also a great time to refresh your home! Here are some tips for giving your home a cozy, fall makeover.

Baskets

baskets

Baskets are great because not only do they add a rustic, fall touch to your living room but they double as storage space too. Elle Décor suggests warming up a room with “cozy accessories such as pillow-and-throw-filled baskets.”

Rugs

rugs

Keep your feet warm on hardwood floors and add a decorative touch to your kitchen or family room with a rug. House and Home says that a standout rug is like “artwork for your floor.” They believe that a standout rug “pulls the room together, interjecting life and personality into the space.”

Throws

chair with throw

Add warmth and decoration to your living room or bedroom with a fringe throw, blanket or quilt. Country Living encourages homeowners to “find throws with different textures and colours for a bit of visual variety.”

Plants

chair with plant

This fall, trade colourful summer flowers in for a statement plant. House and Home says a statement plant “creates major impact – especially when potted in a standout planter.”

Candles

candle

Candles are an easy way to add those fall vibes to your home. Shutterfly says that candles give homes “rustic charm.” For Halloween, add pumpkins and pinecones to your candle display.

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

Jewellery-making has been an important tradition of the Tuareg nomads for centuries. In 1993, a group of young people in Terhazer, a village near Agadez, the largest city of northern Niger, began crafting leather products and silver jewellery by hand. After travelling through France and selling their handicrafts from backpacks for several years, Illies Mouhmoud and his friends began The Union of Peasants (UPAP) in 1999 to help artisans and rural people.

camels

Today, UPAP is an organization of 170 skilled Tuareg silver jewellers and leatherworkers. The Tuareg people inhabit the Saharan regions of North Africa, such as Niger, Mali, Libya, Algeria and Burkina Faso. Dressed in blue robes, they sit beneath airy tents in the desert and create breathtaking pieces of art using a lost-wax method with the same simple tools and techniques of their ancestors. Sometimes, Tuareg people are called the “blue people” because their traditional coloured clothing stains their skin. Tuareg artisans use income from craft production to supplement their subsistence farming. This income has enabled villages to build and equip schools, pay for medicine, ensure safer births and build wells. 

artisans

Illies Mouhmoud is a master silver artisan in crafting traditional Tuareg jewelry. Using a lost-wax method to cast the silver, Mouhmoud first creates a wax mold, forms clay around the mold and then pours molten silver into the hardened clay. Using hand tools, he etches traditional designs and adds ebony inlay or jewels to create the finished piece.

jewellery

Traditionally, the etchings represented safe trade routes. Similar to a map, the open spaces represented a ‘no go’ zone while the etchings were the routes. Today, the traditional techniques are used for artistic purposes and every piece of Tuareg jewellery is believed to bring good luck.

artisan

Thankful for their customers, Mouhmoud said, “Your purchases have helped us stay in our homes, to stay where we live, where we were born and where our parents and grandparents were born.” Visit our website to browse our entire collection of beautiful Tuareg jewellery.

The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)

Did you know that there are 10 principles essential to fair trade? According to the The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), “the 10 Principles of Fair Trade specify the ways that Fair Trade Enterprises are set up and behave to ensure they put people and the planet first.” At Ten Thousand Villages, we are trying to make the world a better place. Here are the ten principles that help us do just that:

Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers

We create opportunities for makers in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.

Transparency and accountability

We always deal fairly and respectfully with our trading partners, and we strive to remain transparent with our customers. Check out this blog post for a behind the scenes look.

Capacity building

By providing consistent orders, the makers we work with can establish independence.

Promoting Fair Trade

Whether it’s in one of our stores or online, we are eager to provide customers with the stories behind our products.

Payment of a fair price

Every purchase improves the lives of makers and their families by supporting their craft and providing a fair, stable income.

Gender equity

We work with maker groups all over the world that empower women. Visit this blog post to learn more about some of the amazing women we work with, and the groups that are working towards women’s equality on a daily basis.

Working conditions

The makers we work with benefit from working in a safe and healthy environment.

Child labour

Fair Trade Organizations respect the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The environment

Many of the organizations we work with use environmentally-friendly production materials and methods. Check out this blog post to learn more about one of these groups.

Trade relations

Every design at Ten Thousand Villages is handcrafted by makers we have known and worked with for years.

When you make a purchase from Ten Thousand Villages, you become part of something more than just retail; you are part of the solution to creating a FAIR world. Visit this blog post to learn about how your purchase makes a difference.

On August 26, 1920, women were finally given the right to vote in the United States. In Canada, women were given the right to vote in 1921. Today, women’s equality is still about that, but it also encompasses even more aspects. To start, it’s about providing women all over the world with equal opportunities to education and employment, and eliminating discrimination, stereotypes and violence against women.

Since the beginning, Ten Thousand Villages has been empowering women. In 1946, our founder, Edna Ruth Byler, a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) worker, visited volunteers in Puerto Rico who were teaching sewing classes to help improve the lives of women living in poverty. When she came back to North America, she filled her car with embroidery pieces she had purchased from these women at a fair price and sold them at churches, parties and sewing circles. The concept of fair trade – and Ten Thousand Villages – was born.

Edna Ruth Byler

We are proud to work with maker groups all over the world that empower women. This year, to celebrate Women’s Equality Day 2019, we want to highlight a few of the groups we work with that are working towards women’s equality on a daily basis.

St. Mary’s Mahila Shikshan

Alpa

500 women in India work with St. Mary’s creating embroidery designs using locally produced thread and hand-loomed cotton. These female makers have access to medical care, savings plans, sewing education, cooking classes and scholarships for their children. Each year, the organization celebrates women’s equality.

Alpa Mistri does embroidery for St. Mary’s. She is 38 years old and has been working with the organization for two years. When asked about the impact St. Mary’s has had on her life, she said, “Working in this organization has given me an identity. As a single mother, I can stand on my own two feet and look after my children without the support of a husband. I am working towards giving my children an education. I want my daughter to become a computer engineer.”

Corr – The Jute Works

Sonia

Corr – The Jute Works markets handmade items, primarily jute and terracotta products, created by Bangladeshi women regardless of caste, religion or race. They work with 4,000 makers and focus on job training, literacy and health issues, developing leadership skills and generating awareness of women’s rights.

Sonia Begum crafts terracotta pots with Corr – The Jute Works. She is 24 years old and has been working with the organization for one year. When asked what the biggest change has been since working with Corr – The Jute Works, she said, “I am getting a fair wage for my work. I am independent and my voice is heard. Because of fair trade, rural women in Bangladesh have rights. I feel empowered.”

Sapia

Magdaly

Sapia works with 80 makers in Colombia creating beautiful products with unique materials like orange peel, tagua and corn husk.

Magdaly Figeroa Rincón is one of the satellite shop leaders working at Sapia. She is 38 years old and has been working with Sapia for five years. She makes all kinds of pieces of jewellery and orange peel dolls. When asked how her life has changed since working with Sapia, she said, “Fair trade allows me to be independent and generate my own income. I can work from home and still dedicate time to my family. I can improve my family’s standard of living and I can also support other women by bringing them work.”

Saidpur Enterprises

Fatema

Saidpur Enterprises provides work for women in Bangladesh. In addition to a fair wage, makers are given microloans, financial advice, literacy classes and training sessions in women’s legal rights, business and nutrition. Each year, the organization celebrates women’s equality.

Fatema SL sews bags at Saidpur Enterprises. She is 50 years old and has been working with the organization since 1991. When asked how her life has changed since working with Saidpur Enterprises, she said, “Before Saidpur Enterprises, my husband did not make enough to provide for the family and there were many days where we did not eat. Since working here, I have been able to provide food for our children and send them to school. I also have been able to buy a piece of land to build a house. I get paid regularly and work in an environment with no discrimination.”

When you buy a product from Ten Thousand Villages, your purchase helps empower women around the world. Your purchase:

  1. Provides women with equal opportunities to employment
  2. Gives women a voice and the ability to be independent
  3. Gives girls access to education
  4. Helps reduce discrimination against women

Thank you for supporting women’s equality.