About Us
A little more about us...
We're a fair trade market. What does that mean? Fair trade means that the artisans are guaranteed fair wages for their work, safe working conditions, and paid overtime.  Whenever possible, artisans are paid not just a fair wage, but a living wage.  A living wage is the income needed to break the cycle of poverty, and will support a family with food, shelter, safe drinking water, and education. 

We also support programs that focus on environmental sustainability and protection.  Some of our products are made from materials such as reclaimed wood, cinnamon bark, recycled silk, telephone wire, or tin.  In other programs, villagers are taught alternate options for income, preventing further destruction of the rainforest and the species that live within.

Our womens empowerment projects in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East give independence to women who would not otherwise be able to support their families.  Many of these programs are funded with microloans.  The artisans learn to manage money without the difficulties that result from traditional moneylenders.  This gives them more income on each handmade item.

Peacemaking and community rebuilding are important elements in the fair trade movement.  We're helping the women of Syria earn some income and have stability in this time of war. The people of Rwanda are still rebuilding their country after the genocide.  In Pakistan, the artisans are working together in spite of religious and ethnic differences to produce and deliver their product.  The Tibetan monks living in exile have hope to return to their homeland in the future. 

As families around the world struggle to survive, often the children must work as well.  Our children's programs give an alternative to coal mines, war torn villages, or living without dignity on the streets.  While these children learn a craft that will support them, they also spend part of the day in school, essential for breaking the cycle of poverty.

Even within the U.S. people are struggling to survive.  We currently support several cooperatives and programs within our own country that have an impact. Whether it's offering programs for homeless women to get a fresh start, raising awareness about and funding for the prevention of suicide and human trafficking, or providing a fresh start for refugees within our borders, every product we carry has a story to tell. We thoughtfully select every program and cooperative we support and hope you enjoy your experience as you shop around the world, making a positive impact as you go.
 
Every good journey starts with a good story...

I'm not one to write fancy mission statements, declaring my purpose in being. I'm a down to earth kind of girl. It's very simple to me. I want to change the world. After spending years in the big business side of international buying, I think we can do better as a society. My buying trips overseas brought me face to face with the reality that behind every item on the store shelves is a human being, someone trying to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads, and send their kids to school. It's amazing how one little revelation can change your entire perspective on life. In 2006, I ended up walking away from my career to open The Silk Road. I was no longer content with being a part of the system, I wanted to make a difference, to take a stand for what I believe in. I believe everyone should be paid fairly and treated justly. I don't think it's cool to enslave children, take advantage of the poor, or force women into prostitution. A family shouldn't be fearful of dying from the water they drink. A handicapped person shouldn't be reduced to begging just because they have a disability. Every child should have the opportunity to learn how to read. Fair trade products try to make that happen. Granted, it's one purse, candy bar, basket, or coffee mug at a time, but it works. Why is it so different from charity? Well, we aren't about throwing money at a situation and hoping it corrects itself. Fair trade is about changing the actual situation. The impact on an artisan when they earn a fair income for their craft, and are treated with dignity and respect, is dramatic. Yes, their personal living situation improves. They can send their children to school. But they also gain a confidence and self respect that may have been lacking before. They start helping their extended families. Their sisters help make the next big order, package the items for shipment, or even express their own creativity in a new product to start off on their own. It has the potential to continue growing through the years. 

Environmentally, we need to take care of our planet and use sustainable resources rather than wreak havoc because it's quick and easy. This is our home. We can't just pack up and move to a new one once we've destroyed what we have. We need to be responsible and take care of it. So the paper bags your purchase is tucked into may not be as pretty as those fancy printed plastic bags, but they're better for the environment. Our newsletter and new product updates are sent through email. And that's also why I carry so many cool things made either recycled or sustainable resources. In the purses alone, you can find repurposed clothing, woven cassette tape, inner tube, cement bag, seat belt, snack bag, comic strip, and yellow grass. I'm partial to the yellow grass, but that's just me.  

Call me a dreamer, a treehugger, a social activist. I'm okay with that. Every story I hear of a child being rescued from slavery, or fed, or educated, or drinking clean water for the very first time reinforces that I'm doing what I'm meant to do.

I truly hope everyone enjoys their visit to my shop.  I want it to be a place to talk and laugh, to learn and share ideas, and to enjoy the amazing artistic ability from cooperatives around the world.  

And, yes, 
        to change the world, 
                        one candy bar at a time.