The purpose of Fair Trade is to allow people in developing nations to get fair payment for their goods and services while retaining a high standard of social and environmental practices. Perhaps you know that you can buy fair trade coffee and chocolate and wine; but did you know that there are also quite a few small businesses offering fair trade crochet?
Photos via Flickr
What is Fair Trade Crochet?
Fair Trade Crochet is the term that I use to describe first world companies that purchase crochet from artisans in developing nations. They pay those artisans a fair wage for their work. They implement ethical practices in working with people in developing nations. These companies sell the crochet piece to first world buyers interested in helping to support these artisans.
How Fair Trade Crochet Helps Women
Fair trade crochet work is usually (but not always) work that is done by women in developing nations for companies based in the United States or Europe. Here’s how it helps them:
- Provides women with a means of independently supporting their families. In some cases, such as in war-torn countries, the women may be the only surviving income provider for their children.
- Fair trade crochet allows women to earn a fair wage in a fair treatment environment doing traditional handicrafts.
- Raises awareness among today’s consumers of the issues facing women in developing nations today.
It is worth noting that most, although not all, of these companies are small businesses launched by women, so in addition to helping to support the artisans, consumers are helping to support independent, ethical women business owners in the first world.
Here are five terrific examples of Fair Trade Crochet organizations. (Note that there is an official certification as a legal Fair Trade organization, and that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about here. There is currently no fair trade certification for non-commodity or specialty goods, like crocheting, but these companies share those same principles and goals.)
1. AHA Bolivia. This company was launched over a dozen years ago by a couple and now helps to support more than 200 Bolivian artisans. These artisans make toys, handbags and wearables using locally sourced, ecologically harvested materials including local Andean cotton, luxury alpaca and recycled plastics. Their crochet items include kippots, other caps, and kids’ soft toys.
2. Cordo Bags. This company specifically works to help the native Wayuu people of Venezuela and Colombia by selling their traditional Mochila bags. These one-of-a-kind environmentally friendly crochet bags help keep Wayuu art and traditions alive while providing the makers with money to continue safeguarding their heritage.
3. Jishike Social Couture. This organization was founded by a woman who taught Tanzanian mothers how to sew and crochet to support themselves. Some of these women were able to get electricity for the first time thanks to the money they earned through this company, whose name in Swahili means “hold onto your strength.” Jishike Social Couture sells crochet purses including clutches, shoulder bags and cross body bags.
4. Le Souk. This organization sells crochet home décor made by women in Nepal. The women are paid a fair wage plus they receive a portion of the proceeds from their sales. Furthermore, this organization donates 5%+ of profits to Women For Women, an organization that helps women war survivors rebuild their lives.
5. Same Sky. This is a crochet jewelry company that helps HIV poitive survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. These women were exposed to HIV because of war-related sexual assault but they are taking their power back by learning to crochet and supporting their families. Same Sky sells crochet bracelets and glass bead necklaces.
Most Fair Trade Crochet companies feature bios of their artisans on their site so it’s enjoyable to look around and see what they offer, even if you aren’t able to buy anything from them!
About the Author
Kathryn Vercillo blogs about all things crochet at Crochet Concupiscence, from fashion to news, art to CALs. She will be releasing a book about the health benefits of crochet in 2012. Find her on Twitter @CrochetBlogger.
Article © Kathryn Vercillo. All rights reserved.