For more than 70 years, Ten Thousand Villages has served to empower others, sustain livelihoods, support families, build relationships, and show dignity. By partnering with artisan groups around the world, more people gain access to a fair and stable income, providing hope and a brighter future.
Every Purchase Has Meaning
When you buy handcrafted items from Ten Thousand Villages you're not only getting an original, one-of-a-kind piece of art, but you're also helping to put food on the table for families, sending kids to school, providing a warm and safe home for artisans, and keeping families healthy. Ten Thousand Villages helps people build a life they deserve.
Last year alone, Ten Thousand Villages helped artisans around the world earn $7.5 million collectively, a source of sustainable income that wouldn't exist without Ten Thousand Village's vision for opportunity through dignified work.
Valentina Schade, Ten Thousand Villages
Valentina joins Love Justly to provide more on the importance of partnership, the impact every dollar has, and the beauty of empowerment.
How did Ten Thousand Villages start?
In 1946, when Byler traveled with her husband to Puerto Rico, she met women in La Plata Valley who were struggling to feed their children. Having lived through hard times herself during the Depression, she knew the face of poverty. She also knew the importance of dignity and people wanting a way to help themselves. She noticed that many of these women created beautiful embroidery, but had no place to sell it.
With no clear plan, but a sense of purpose, she brought the pieces home and sold them to her friends and neighbors. She shared the stories of the makers, describing how each purchase meant that a woman gained economic independence and a chance to give her family a brighter future. It was a simple idea. But a pioneering one that would launch Ten
Thousand Villages and blossom into a global fair trade movement. Now we partner with 20,000 artisans from 30 developing countries!
Why are long-term partnerships so vital to success?
Long-term partnerships allow artisans to invest in themselves and their communities with confidence. With a steady stream of work, they have consistent income so they can send their children to a school year after year, afford medical care, make improvements on their homes, buy better tools to create with and learn new skills.
Sometimes people feel like the impact of their purchase doesn't matter, what would you like to say to those people?
Don’t be discouraged! Small acts can really change the world. It may seem like the world is so big and complicated that your daily decisions don’t make a difference on a large scale. But by making a small choice to purchase fair trade, you are making a huge impact on the life of the person who made or grew what you bought. When their life is enriched, they can invest in their community. And when their community thrives, so does the world.
How are the designs created and fashion trends incorporated?
Our buying team collaborates really closely with our maker partners throughout the process to blend upcoming trends with their traditional designs and skills. Because many of the artisans are making everything by hand with limited access to materials and trend forecasts, we have the unique opportunity to work together to put an authentically global spin on contemporary designs.
What advice do you have for impacting change?
It’s often said that it’s the consumers who have all the power, that if we stop buying products made in an unethical way, companies will be forced to be more ethical in their production methods. But never forget that we are so much more than consumers. We are a community.
When we think, act and shop like every decision we make affects everybody in our global community, significant change happens in our own lives and the lives of people all over the world. The complicated problems we all face together start to feel less overwhelming. It’s that simple. Little by little, we really can create change.
Visit Ten Thousand Villages to shop for discounts on fair trade jewelry.
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Affordable ethical fashion is hard to navigate. On the one hand, ethical fashion is going to cost more because each person behind the product is paid a fair wage. As a result, the item costs more to make, so the cost to consumers is going to be higher. This is the way fashion should be...but we're used to cheap fashion. This is where Love Justly comes in.