Partner Feature: World Finds

World Finds was founded upon the basis that to lift communities out of poverty, they needed to be provided with work, not charity. Through this mission, it has created a community and a market for artisans to make and sell their products. By providing employment, World Finds has helped its artisans and their communities in India, Indonesia and Nepal by combatting poverty, improving educational programs and expanding healthcare initiatives.

World Finds itself provides a community for fair trade organizations and artisans, but it also does much more. By providing workshops to teach women to bead and sew, the fair trade organizations that work with World Finds help to empower women who can then empower other women in their communities.

Not only is each piece from World Finds unique, but it also helps to continue the cycle of women helping women. This necklace was handmade in India by a community of women that continues to grow with each purchase.

While all of World Finds products are helping to lift up women and their communities, they are also helping to educate young girls. The Girls Education Fund provides transportation, tuition, books and more to communities in India, which has helped triple the amount of girls who can stay in school.

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From handbags to jewelry to hand printed scarves, World Finds offers on-trend, sustainable and ethical products that you can wear proudly, no matter your personal style. Their collection of scarves are perfect for this spring – throw one on during the cool mornings and tie it around your tote when the weather warms up.

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For a limited time, our Flora Scarf is 15% off 🙂 Click here to shop.

Blogger: Kathryn McDonnell, Route Intern

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Partner Feature: FashionABLE

 

 

FASHIONABLE provides women who have overcome prostitution and addiction, jobs instead of charity. They seek to invest in the women who create their jewelry in Nashville, TN and their handbags in Ethiopia, so that they can provide for themselves and empower the communities they’re a part of.

 

By manufacturing the leather goods in Ethiopia, fair paying, local jobs are created. The Mamuye Leather tote is named after one of the women that works with FASHIONABLE. This 100% genuine distressed leather is a beautiful way to add color and texture to your wardrobe. Whether you’re using it for a school bag, purse, or even for traveling, the durable straps and roomy insides make it perfect for all day wear. Available in pewter, cognac or black, which are perfect to mix and match.

 

 

To see more of the bag and jewelry selection, visit us in store or online at shoproute.org.

Raven+Lily

 

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When we brought Raven+Lily into our collection last year, we were thrilled. They employ women all around the world from Ethiopia to Haiti, over 1,500 marginalized women, giving them secure jobs to break the cycle of poverty for them and their families.

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They also combine simple, beautiful design with their mission of empowerment.

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We just added the ‘Home‘ tab to our online shop, and are excited to unveil a couple of Raven+Lily paper goods along with their jewelry. Or check it all out in-store!

Photo Credit, Top & Middle: Raven & Lily

Meet a Maker: Arati

FORAI, Friends of Refugees and Immigrants, is a small nonprofit based in St. Louis that shares our passion for relationships.  Their work teaching women to sew and make jewelry begins and ends with long-term loving friendships.  We have worked with FORAI for six years and are so excited to now be selling their product and helping to advance their work. Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 8.55.50 AM

When you walk into a Saturday morning FORAI session the first thing you notice is how loud it is; ladies are chatting, children are playing, sewing machines are humming.  It’s a celebratory atmosphere.  It’s obvious that these relationships aren’t new.  

Arati is one of those sweet ladies.  Arati is an accomplished young women (here she is wearing the mingle collection).   In elementary school she left her home country of Burma to move to St. Louis with her family as a refugee.  She started working with FORAI when she was in high school.  After high school she went away for two years to school.  In the last few months she has returned to complete her degree in bio-medical engineering at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

FORAI is excited to welcome her back to their jewelry team!  She will be making several of Route’s most popular pieces (check a few below) and we are so honored to help her fulfill her dreams.

 

Maker Story; FashionABLE

We are honored to partner with FashionABLE, an organization passionate about employing women that otherwise may not have a chance for employment and fair work. Women that have been involved in prostitution or have fallen into addition.

“In 2006 I got a divorce then I started facing the challenges alone and didn’t have any option to raise my children well. One day one of my “friends” gave me advice to start a prostitution business and I was convinced by her idea. I rented a small room in Addis and started. Some days I went to my house without getting any money and wasn’t even able to feed my children. I would then beg for food that I would bring home to my children. This was the biggest challenge in my life. // The happiest day in my life is the day that I joined the FashionABLE program. It was a big moment for me because I didn’t like my previous work. Now I am able to provide for myself and my children.”

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When you purchase from Route, you are investing in the life of a woman.

Introducing; Tiklari

As soon as we saw the gorgeous designs of Tiklari’s Karla Diaz Cano, we fell in love. Knowing that the artisans are fairly paid, with special consideration to preserving traditional hand-making techniques, we were sold.

Karla works closely with the makers around the world. We were able to speak with her on the phone in between her trips and it was fantastic to hear directly more about the work that she does and the design process.

 

“Our mission is to help preserve traditional hand-making techniques that have been used by artisans from different cultures around the world for hundreds of years. We don’t only source items around the globe; we work closely and collaborate with artisans to create items that reflect a fusion of ideas – old and new, modern and traditional. We believe the handmade is a work of art, and we aim to celebrate it as a form of self-expression and a way to preserve cultural heritage.”

Shop Route’s selection of Tiklari.

Women at Work=Kids at School

73 million children under the age of 14 work in full time jobs around the world instead of attending school. 73 million, how is this possible? They say that the numbers may even be conservative. Personal stories break my heart, but numbers that staggering move my feet. What do I do? How do I start? Honestly, I would sooner get a on a plane to India and go completely momma bear on any employer who dares hire a child. But often when I choose to purchase, I’m not thinking about cause or effect, only about what I want.  I want what I want because it makes me look and feel good about myself. When it works and I’m complimented, I want more. But then I realize, children aren’t in school, some are in danger.

Mata Traders and World Finds work in countries with high numbers of child labor, intentionally employing women who have never worked before so that they can receive the income brought in by their children and their children can go to school. Done. What are these women producing? Beautiful pieces that are fashion forward, that we love to sell and wear. So incredibly proud to partner with these groups and know that our feet can move in the direction of change because of the work they do.

Here are a few of our favorite pieces:

Marka Necklace, World Finds

Faith Earrings, Mata Traders

For more info on Mata Traders and World Finds check our their websites:

Introducing; Elegantees

We were so excited to discover an incredible organization making well designed basics. Based in Nepal, Elegantees works with talented women, teaching them to sew if they don’t already have the skill, and provide counseling and healing.
Here is a note directly from the Elegantees Team:
“We are happy to share photos of two of our sewers in particular. Gita and Binita have become our “poster artisans” as they’ve been with us the longest and feel fully restored! They also have everything resolved with their traffickers, that we can share their faces and their names. Gita and Binita autograph many of the hang tags as well so customers can connect with them through their purchase.
Both of them were victims of sex trafficking until they were rescued at the Nepali-Indian border where their traffickers had them in route to the Middle East. Once they were rescued, they received counseling and healing from our nonprofit partner. During the process, they learned how to sew. Today they are able to sew with Elegantees for a living and are finding more joy in life. They are forever overcomers.”
We are so excited to be carrying Elegantees basics, including this ruffled peplum tank that looks perfect with the pencil skirts from Synergy. Watch for pieces on sale via instagram in the coming weeks and styled in our Spring Lookbook!

Introducing; Synergy

Introducing Synergy’s clothing this Spring is something we have been so excited about for a while.  Synergy employs over 150 women in Nepal to make their organic cotton women’s clothing.  They provide fair wages and significant yearly bonuses.  It’s all about supporting women so they can support their families.  When possible Synergy encourages women to work from their homes, reducing the stress of leaving children and giving them the flexible keep up with other responsibilities while completing their work.

On top of their loving care for their Nepali and US based teams.  We are so excited about all of the ways they consider the environment and the people involved with production of their products.  Their super soft fabrics are organically grown and certified, reducing the environmental impact of the cotton farming as well as the health risks to the farmers.  They take great care in the dying and finishing of their products to keep the process as low impact as possible on water sources.  On top of all of that, they rely on solar power when possible, soy ink and even reuse boxes and other materials.  We are inspired and encouraged by their thoughtfulness and care and are so excited to be sharing their pieces with you.

 

Some helpful hints as you are purchasing:

Synergy’s fabrics, though durable and fade resistant do shrink slightly.  We’ve carefully purchased only the styles that we feel like run true to size and are the MOST flattering.  You will love how breathable the dresses are especially and how they move.  Each style really makes the most of the fabric and are so fun to wear.  Enjoy!

Maker Story; Sonya

Greenola Style shared with us a story of one of their makers, Sonya:

“Sonya, from our Tikas Women’s Cooperative,Tikas, is one of our newest cooperatives that we helped form. We first met Sonya, her sister Vasilia, and Beatrice (all pictured in the team shot on the left, below) through a Catholic organization in Bolivia. At the time they were handcrafting greeting cards in which they sold in local communities without great success. After much relationship building and understanding their needs and personal goals, we learned that all their husbands work quite hard to support their families but were still struggling with the financial demands.

These three women needed to work, but were finding it hard to balance finding work and seeing their children off to school.  In Bolivia children attend only a half day of school making it hard on caregivers to find profitable work. Also their schools are  often many miles away and due to safety concerns the mothers take the public transportation and/or walk the many miles with their children.

Unfortunately the small profit from selling greeting cards was not enough.  Upon scoping the raw material markets, GREENOLA learned that there is an abundance of raw seeds available. With that, we decided to create jewelry recycling these seeds into fashion forward designs. This process was also an easy skill to teach. Starting with these three women, we have been able to grow this project into a community project. Sonya, Vasilia, and Beatrice have welcomed their cousins, friends, and neighbors into the project and now help employ more than 20 women in their community. With this project, the women of the community in which they reside (Buena Vista) have pulled together to form a women’s group that comes together for much more than working on this project. They have gotten their community church involved, created programs for their children, rallied to have public transportation run to their community, and so much more.

Sonya is quite the woman. In addition to contributing financially to her household, she has taken on guardianship of her nephew raising him as her own. This last year we learned that she has been having stomach problems challenging her ability to eat, function, and live a healthy life. With our on the ground partner, SolidarityBridge.org we have been able to provide Sonya the healthcare she needs to work on this challenge and improve her quality of life.”

Greenola Team

 

We are so excited to support organizations like Greenola who take the time to get to know their artisans, as well as makers like Sonya who are determined and hardworking.  Over and over again we hear the stories and see the statistics that when women are employed the money that they make goes to support their families and then their communities.  Sonya is one of thousands of stories of women who are changing their communities because of their employment!