Shopping Fair Trade at Ten Thousand Villages

by Betty on December 9, 2014

Hi Bettys!

This is Steph here, Betty intern and Zero Waste Warrior. But I’m not here today to talk about Better World Betty or recycling. Instead, I’d like to tell you a little bit about my life outside of the Betty-verse.

ttv charlottesville

When I’m not at BWB headquarters sending emails, planning events, and scheduling Facebook posts, I can usually be found at Ten Thousand Villages… sending emails, planning events, and scheduling Facebook posts! Ten Thousand Villages is a not-for-profit fair trade retailer located on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. We sell fairly traded handicrafts, accessories, and home decor handmade by disadvantaged artisans in developing countries around the world. We work with these artisans to establish fair wages, decent work conditions, and long-lasting relationships, in accordance with the 10 principles outlined by the World Fair Trade Organization.

edna ruth byler

Why Ten Thousand Villages? I am most inspired by the story of our founder, a Mennonite named Edna Ruth Byler, who, on a mission trip with her husband to Puerto Rico in 1946, was struck by both the extreme poverty of the area and the incredible beauty of the handicrafts produced there. She purchased the women’s needlework and brought it home to sell to her friends and neighbors. As demand grew, she sold products out of the trunk of her car, at church events, in her front yard, and, eventually, in her own basement shop- called Byler’s Gift Shop.

Edna hoped to create sustainable economic opportunities for artisans in developing countries by creating a North American marketplace, and Ten Thousand Villages carries on that mission today. Edna’s vision grew from a tiny basement shop into an independent, nonprofit charitable organization that surpassed $20 million in sales in 2006 and currently sells in more than 390 retail outlets in the US, operating in 38 developing countries!

Ten Thousand Villages is one of the world’s largest, and oldest, fair trade organizations. It is a founding member of the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT) and a certified member of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF). It has made the Forbes’ list of most ethical companies every year since 2008.

But I didn’t just come here to brag. Ten Thousand Villages not only works internationally, it also contributes to local organizations. The Charlottesville store has invited Better World Betty to a Community Shopping Event this Thursday, December 11, from 3-7pm, during which 15% of sales will benefit Better World Betty. As Ten Thousand Villages advocates for sustainability by encouraging its artisan partners to use natural or recycled materials, this was a logical collaboration for both organizations. We hope to see you there!

Yours in sustainability,

Better World Betty Intern
Ten Thousand Villages Sales Associate

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