The Silk Road Fair Trade Market is a gift shop of fair trade items from around the world. Choose from a large selection of global jewelry, purses, nativities and nativity sets, chocolate, home decor, elephant and giraffe figurines, wallhangings, coffee, tea, serving spoons, mugs, dishes and other kitchen items, scarves, skirts and tops, baskets, placemats, tablecloths, games, toys, measuring tapes, and recycled silk yarn. Alll of our items are fairly traded, or ethically traded. This means with every purchase, you can decrease poverty, improve education, fight modern day slavery, and protect the environment.
A little more about us...
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 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 others, 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 results in more income on each handmade item.
Peacemaking and community rebuilding are important elements in the fair trade movement as well. We are helping the people of Rwanda as they try to rebuild their country after 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 two cooperatives that offer programs for the homeless. After completion of the program, the participants have job training, are fully employable, and become contributing members of their communities…no longer living on the streets.
Why do I do this?
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 person trying to support themselves. 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.
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. I've joined Green America, and with their help, I'm striving to do even better this year.
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.