Have you ever taken a few minutes to think about what solidarity means to you? This year, the Fair Trade Federation themed the year Solidarity. Back in May we celebrated World Fair Trade Day, and this October is Fair Trade Month. In these times especially, we've been giving a lot of thought to what solidarity means for us here at Lucia's. We've settled on a few key ways that we strive to embody this ideal. In this blog, we're going to share them with you.
First and foremost, Fair Trade Solidarity means standing with artisans across the globe. Commercial manufacturing and consumer culture have taken over our planet, leaving millions of people impoverished with no way out. Children are especially affected, with the International Labor Organization estimating that 11% of the world's children are unable to go to school because they are forced to work unsafe jobs producing goods for America and Europe. Dying clothes puts workers at high risk for cancer development, but most dyers have little to no health benefits from their employer. Certainly, they are not getting the justice they deserve. In many production factories, it is not uncommon for workers to be denied the most basic rights such as bathroom breaks during 12 and 16 hour work days.
How can we expect communities in popular manufacturing areas to flourish, innovate, build financial stability, and increase in welfare when we are putting them down for the sake of beauty and convenience? It's impossible. That's where fair trade steps in. We believe that there must be solutions to the problem of fast manufacturing that not only support the basic rights of producers, but that showcase their talents and traditions. Fair trade provides a way. Through the use of the 9 fair trade principles, businesses and consumers alike become connected to the people behind their products. Here at Lucia's we try to accomplish this goal by ensuring that every product we sell is made by hand, is sustainable for the planet, and that artisan input is a part of the production process. We know who made every product we sell. And by doing that, we can be sure that they are valued, supported, and treated fairly. Here are just a couple of stories to show you what we mean:
This beautifully hand embroidered shawl is made by villages of women's cooperatives in India. Women are able to work in their homes, practicing traditional weaving and embroidery arts and creating unique designs for you. When you wear one of our shawls, you will be fashionable, warm, and comfortable. But you will also have a story of Indian culture and tradition on your back. You will know that you are allowing women the freedom to work when they want, be available for their families, and support future generations, ending cycles of poverty and unfair labor throughout the region.
In Guatemala and throughout much of Central America huipil is a traditional garment of indigenous women. Huipil is a hand embroidered tunic that has its roots in Mayan culture. Each piece can take months to produce as every stich is important. Our artisan partners in Guatemala have found creative ways to share this tradition with the world. They use the huipil craft to stich intricate and unique handbags, wallets, and clutches like the Fiesta Clutch here. By making these bags, artisans keep centuries old traditions alive and share them with us in creative new ways.
Fair Trade Solidarity is about supporting entire communities. Our core values at Lucia's include seeing regions changed for the better. We hope that through fair trade every member of the community has more opportunity, financial stability, and safety. At first, it seems a little far fetched that one little store could make so much change. However, by providing living wage, dignified employment, all of these goals can be accomplished. In fact, because of the opportunities afforded by fair trade, one of our artisan partners became the first in her village to attend college! This opportunity brought even more job opportunity and financial success to her area. She was better able to provide for her family, AND she also gained skills and knowledge to help provide her village with resources they can use to become more financially secure. With this, fewer and fewer people are forced to work in unsafe factories, and all three of our goals are met!
When artisans are empowered, they also tend to provide for others who haven't been given the same options as them. This multiplies the effects of fair trade support exponentially. This spring we were able to develop mask making jobs in Guatemala to continue to provide stable income to artisans during the economy's collapse. These artisans did not just take this for themselves, but used their profits to provide meals to those in their communities who had lost their jobs and were struggling. Through their generosity we were inspired as well. Now, Lucia's provides meals for many who cannot find work in these trying times. Fair trade inspires benefits that go far beyond good jobs. Fair trade affects everyone.
One brand that really showcases what we mean is Conscious Step. Each pair of socks purchased through their label gives a donation to a special cause. This pair goes to giraffe conservation throughout Africa AND 1% goes to planting trees across the globe. These socks are made from sustainably sourced cotton, provide jobs in India, and protect wildlife. What more could you want? Oh yeah - they're insanely soft and comfy too.
Now that you've read about what solidarity means to us, what meanings does it have for you? Tell us in the comments below or give us a mention on social media @luciasworldemporium for a chance to be featured on our page!