We did it!

25 Jul

278 people came to the Texas State Capitol on Saturday, July 12th to ring singing bowls to honor the Dalai Llamas birthday and help Ten Thousand Villages set the Guinness World Record for most singing bowls simultaneously rung. Some people brought their own bowls, some borrowed from Ten Thousand Villages, others borrowed from friends and some even borrowed from people they had just met!


At the event, my role was to count people as they entered the rotunda with their singing bowl. A few people didn’t have bowls so I told them they could go in and observe the event but they couldn’t be counted towards the record attempt.

As the numbers crept closer to 250 everyone became more hopeful and giddy. I don’t think I’ve seen that many crossed fingers in my lifetime! I really started to feel the excitement of the day when two young men I had sent into the rotunda without bowls returned to me raising found bowls triumphantly in the air shouting, “I got a bowl!”


Of course we couldn’t have done this alone! I would like to thank our conductor, Andrea Cortez and our witnesses Jennifer Nesbit-Holt and Beth Carpenter. Thank you to Mandala Tibetan Shop and Natures Treasures for sponsoring and supporting this event. Thank you also to our volunteers; coordinating that many people to do anything is difficult, let alone navigating the Capitol and following Guinness regulations, but we all worked together to make it happen!



What makes this event more spectacular is that we’ve been able to spread more awareness for fair trade through the reach we’ve gotten. The event was featured on KUT.orgKVUE, and the Austin American Statesman!

newspaper article on singing bowl event 2

Thank you again to everyone who helped make this event such an amazing success, thank you for reading, and thank you for your continued support of Ten Thousand Villages and fair trade!

Watch a video of this fantastic event at tenthousandvillages.com/austin.


‘Sing’ with us at the Capitol!

27 Jun

Please join Ten Thousand Villages in celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday and help set the Guinness World Record for most singing bowls simultaneously rung!  We’ll be meeting at the State Capitol on July 12th at 9am for this history-making event.

Singing bowls are believed to have been used in Tibetan culture since the time of the Buddha in 560 B.C. and are used for meditation, relaxation, holistic healing, stress reduction and chakra balancing.




If just one singing bowl can provide deep relaxation, imagine what 250 of them playing at once can do! On July 6, 2013 Ten Thousand Villages of Austin celebrated the Dalai Lama’s birthday and World Tibet Day by attempting to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the most singing bowls simultaneously rung. The sound and vibrations in the open air rotunda were indescribable.

Store manager, Kitty Bird summed it up, “I hope everyone feels better, I know I do. I feel calm, I feel good… This is so cool!”


Hosting these types of events allows Ten Thousand Villages to tell artisans’ stories to a broader audience while evoking a sense of community and togetherness. Click here to view a video of last year’s event.

While the event was an amazing success, the record was not met so Ten Thousand Villages of Austin is doing it again this year! Join us at the Texas State Capitol on July 12th, 2014 at 9 am to ‘ring in the Dalai Lama’s birthday and set the Guinness World Record for most singing bowls simultaneously rung!

There are beautiful handcrafted bowls available for purchase at the store or you can bring your own!


Singing Bowl Delicate

Delicate Song Singing Bowl from New SADLE

New SADLE, meaning “New Skill and Development Learning Experience is a not-for-profit training and employment program in Nepal for artisans who have leprosy, polio, or other disabilities. New SADLE not only provides a way for workers to make a living but also provides free medical treatment for artisans, rent and child allowances, free daycare, and schooling. Ten Thousand Villages has been purchasing from New SADLE since 2001.


Singing Bowl Ashtamangal

Ashtamangal Singing Bowl

Mahaguthi artisans create bronze-casted singing bowls. Mahaguthi works with more than 1,000 artisans; most of whom are women who live in remote areas and are able to work from home. Mahaguthi has been marketing handicrafts since 1984 to support women and children. The organizations provides medical and education allowances, paid leave, and maternity leave for their workers. Ten Thousand Villages has been purchasing from Mahaguthi since 2000.


Singing Bowl Lotus

Silver Lotus Singing Bowl

Created from copper, zinc and tin this bowl is created by a nonprofit export organization in Kathmandu called Sana Hastakala which means “small handicraft.” Sana Hastakala focuses on preserving the skill and traditions of artisans and develops staff welfare and development programs. Ten Thousand Villages has been purchasing from Sana Hastakala since 2001.

*Note: Tenzin Gyatso, the current and 14th Dalai Lama’s actual birthday is July 6th and he will be 79 this year.

For more information on this and other events please visit www.tenthousandvillages.com/austin.

Being The Change I Wish To See In The World

25 Jun



     Let me start off by saying Hello! My name is Jackie Busch and I am the Event Planning Intern for this summer. I will be a sophomore this upcoming fall at Baylor University where I plan on studying international business and minoring in Leadership. I was born and raised in Austin and I am a true Austinite at heart, though I love my Wacoan home. Fun Fact about myself, I was a Girl Scout for 12 years and after hard work, sweat and a lot of cookies I was able to earn my bronze award. I don’t really have “favorites”, I am more equal opportunity. Except when it comes to movies, my favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice hands down. Because who can pass up Mr. Darcy?


One of the things I am most known for among my friends is for being the “mom” of our group. As much as I know that can be annoying it is only because I care immensely about their happiness and future. I am one of those people who feels pain when another feels pain, and joy when another feels joy. However, the good news is I am also a very good problem solver. Which is where the “mom” nickname comes in, because my advice very much mimics a mom’s guidance. When it comes down to it though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I utilize my strengths to the best of my ability and by doing that I hope to bring out my friends strengths and help make them into the best version of themselves they can be. -Mom example number one ;) I also give out hugs if you ever need a pick me up :) Another attribute that my friends would probably say I have is that I truly want to make a difference in the world and in peoples lives. Since I was about eleven and learned about Gandhi in my English class my favorite quote has been “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” and I am ready to start being that.

free hugs

In high school I lead a service organization called the JOY project, and our mission was to find needs in the immediate Austin area and fulfill them. Through that I was able to experience and witness firsthand what making a difference in somebody’s life looks life. My favorite project was when we coordinated a service day that was themed around Valentine’s Day, because love comes in many different forms and we had plenty to give. My team went to over 10 houses that were members of our congregation that could no longer get around to do house or yard work. This one house in particular was a very good friend of our youth director’s who happened to be diagnosed with cancer. We sent over our crew and cleaned up his yard, because since his diagnosis no one had been able to take care of that part of the house. We brought over lunch so his wife could take an afternoon off and enjoy her time with her husband. While I am very proud of the work we did there, I am more proud of our volunteers taking the time to stop and listen to his many incredible stories. Before they left his wife told our volunteers that she had never seen him tell that many stories and was very appreciative. A few weeks later, he passed away and his wife made contact with us again and let us know how much us coming to her house had meant to her and her husband. I knew we had made a difference for their family –  although it was a small deed, it had a big impact.


     Going forward I hope to make the same kind of impact at Ten Thousand Villages. I have worked with my immediate community and now I want to have a different experience by making an impact in a person’s life that I will never have the privilege to meet. Love comes in different forms and I am ready  to bring my caring mom-love to people across the world and be the change I wish to see in the world.

       ghandhi reflection

Our Favorite Fair Trade Challenge Photos

18 May

Ten Thousand Villages’ Fair Trade Challenge is an annual event encouraging folks to eat, drink, use, or wear fair trade products each day then shout it from all corners of social media.  This year’s Fair Trade Challenge really showed how fun and creative fair trade supporters can be!  In honor of Austin Villages’ 10th birthday this year we are sharing our Top 10 photos from this year’s Challenge and why our Challengers say they support fair trade:

1. Flower Garland & Candleholder, Laura D.Laura used got creative with these fair trade pieces to decorate her dinner table on Cinco de Mayo.

“I support fair trade because the right to a fair wage has always been important to me. Being compensated fairly for your talent and work supports human dignity, boosts self esteem, and rewards dreamers who have put their dreams into action and encourages them to continue dreaming! Fair trade is a way to allow people to be the best version of themselves.” ~Laura D.

2. Bangles, Alice May B.Amay banglesThese silver bangles from India are some of Alice May’s favorites.  Ours too!

“Everyone on this planet deserves to make a living by earning a fair wage. So much pride results from work well done.” ~Alice May B.

3. Pencil Sharpener, Lisa G.LisaThe Fair Trade Challenge this year coincided with the end of the semester so St. Ed’s professor Lisa got a lot of use out of this lil’ guy.

“It provides HOPE!” ~Lisa G.

4. Earrings, Sarah D.Sarah StickerWe knew Sarah would be a great Challenger once we learned that her New Year’s resolution was to opt for sweatshop-free clothing whenever possible.  This pic is very powerful considering that artisans’ stories are a big part of the fair trade movement!

“I realized in 2013 after doing a lot of research and soul searching- the only reason I wasn’t fair trade was because I was, put very simply, selfish. I wanted my faith in to change not only what I believed but the way I shopped- and so I have made it my 2014 New Year’s Resolution to wear Sweatshop Free clothes, shoes, and accessories (I am allowing thrift stores to be a viable option as well). The more I have learned and researched Fair Trade, the more it becomes important to me and the more it has changed me!”

5. Spiced Chili Dark Chocolate, Aerin P.AerinReally, who can resist eating a few pieces of chocolate, even for the sake of a photo?  This entry demonstrates the sweet side of fair trade ;)

“Knowing that my actions allow others near and far to receive fair compensation and a living wage for their work is a noble cause!” ~Aerin P.

6. Ginger Tea, Becca H.BeccaWe love this fun photo because it demonstrates how fair trade can delight the senses.

“Fair trade helps people all over the world, not just in third-world countries — it spreads fairness and cultural understanding.” ~Becca H.

7. Cat Wall Hooks with Necklaces, Becca R.Becca CatsWow, so much fair trade!  Not only is Becca’s jewelry holder made of fair trade cut metal from Haiti, but she proudly displays her amazing fair trade necklaces on it.  Our hats off to you Becca.

“I support fair trade not only because it is empowering to artisans, farmers, and producers world-wide, but also empowering to us- the consumers. Realizing how much of a difference where and how you spend your money helped me to understand how connected we all our in the modern global economy… In fair trade, we see that as a beautiful thing- celebrating the intimacy between producers and consumers, and bridging that gap with stories, photos, videos and beautiful products.” ~Becca R

8. Dress, Rebecca D.Rebecca DRebecca is seriously rockin’ some fair trade style!  We love her smile in this pic.

“I support fair trade because it empowers people to improve their lives.” ~Rebecca D.

9. Coffee, Mary H.MaryLooks like Mary is going all french press with her fair trade caffeine fix – we want some!

“It’s the right thing to do” ~Mary H.

10. Mirror, Anne O.AnneAnne’s created a stunning composition for this pic, a perfect match for the beauty of the her reverse-painted glass mirror.

“Fair trade gives a voice to the voiceless and empowers people to be creative and successful!” ~Anne O.

And there you have it, our Fair Trade Challenge 2014 winners!  A big thanks to all of our Challengers who made this fun campaign happen!!  See ya next year :)



Fair Trade Challenge Time!

6 May

Every year Ten Thousand Villages of Austin puts on a Fair Trade Challenge. The challenge is easy (and fun)- take a picture of yourself wearing/eating/using a fair trade item each week of the challenge and post it on our Facebook, Twitter @austinvillages, or Instagram @austinvillages. Each day we’ll pick our favorites and share them- then announce winners at the end of the week. I know, wearing/eating/using fair trade sounds a little hard, but it’s really not! I’ve rounded up some of my very favorite fair trade items, things you probably already use everyday.



You can’t be a part of a fair trade challenge without some coffee, that’s just a fact of life.

So Cute!

So Cute!

You can’t have a good cup of coffee without a cute mug because then what will you Instagram?

Because how can you have a good day without chocolate?

Because chocolate

There’s no such thing as a perfect fair trade day without some delicious chocolate.



I can’t be the only one who makes WAY too much pasta every time. This handy eggplant is key in helping me make just the right amount of pasta for one!

Don’t let the word challenge throw you off, this is NOT all work and no play. On Saturday May 10th we’ll be throwing you, and all of our other fair trade enthusiasts, a party!

Some of our activities will include: 
*10:00am – 12:00pm – Iced Equal Exchange Coffee Bar in Store
*12:00pm – 8pm – In house chocolate tasting – Come and get a taste of your favorite chocolate for free! 
*12:00pm – 2:00pm – Live African Music 
*3:00pm – 6:00pm – Iced Fair Trade Tulsi Tea – Sweet and Unsweetened available in store 
*3:00pm – 5:00pm – Block Stamping – Make something sweet for Mother’s Day! 
*6:00pm – 8:00pm – Newspaper Bead Bracelets – an easy and fun activity for the whole family to enjoy! 

More activities to be added soon…check out our Facebook to stay in the know! 

Can’t wait to see all of y’all’s awesome fair trade pictures!

Beautiful, Beautiful Spring!

10 Apr

I don’t know about you, but the early days of spring always remind me how much I love bright, beautiful colors and how much I enjoy cartwheels. Spring makes me crave any and all outside activities. But, in all honesty, more than outside activities spring makes me crave cute, bright accessories.

Do we even need to discuss how beautiful these colors are?

Do we even need to discuss how beautiful these colors are?

Like these colorful sarongs from Nepal! I know, sarongs usually scream beach- but hear me out: Think of picnics at Zilker, snacking on delicious strawberries and fresh-squeezed juice. And, since this is my daydream, let’s go ahead and add a cute little dog running around. Or throwing one on top of your bed for a quick pop of color. Such an easy way to update your room and add some warmth after this long, cold winter. Or you can go for a fabulous everyday look. Like this!

So cute!

So cute!

Despite the (hopefully!) beautiful weather that comes with spring, so does the rain. Those days best spent curling up on the couch watching Netflix can be exponentially improved* by kitting. This awesome knitting pack from Nepal comes with everything you need for those cute knitted headbands that will keep your ears warm next cold-season. Now, I know it’s a little early to start knitting for winter, but if you’re anything like me, it’ll take six to eight months to get it done so it’s important to get started early. Most importantly, I can’t stop thinking of how cute that bowl will look sitting in my living room and how fabulous I’ll sound when I tell my friends I’m ‘working on my knitting.’ *scientifically proven fact

How many scented soaps are too many scented soaps?

How many scented soaps are too many scented soaps?

After this unusually cold and long winter, we need to be pampered. We need to feel like we didn’t have to brave the cold and rain and frozen roads (because Texans are not built for cold and rain and frozen roads, we are built for year round Snow Cones!). A good way to get back in touch with our warm-weather roots is through little luxuries. Little luxuries like soft, scented soaps. All of these soaps were handcrafted by Indian artisans without any pesky, harmful chemicals. If a long, awesome bath with lavender soap doesn’t leave you feeling ready for pool days and wandering amongst the bluebonnets, nothing will*. *scientifically proven fact

Yes, that is the world's cutest giant dragonfly.

Yes, that is the world’s cutest giant dragonfly.

Do I even need to explain why I’m in love with this bird house? It’s made of wool, it’s environmentally friendly, and it’s going to make my balcony look precious. If anyone needs any more explanation please refer them to the precious giant dragonlfy —–>   Most importantly, not only is this bird home and everything else fantastic, they’re also all fair trade items. They were all handmade by artisans in developing countries and they were all paid living wages which will allow them to sustain themselves and their families. It’s nice to own cute things, but it’s even nicer to know that these cute things have helped a community, rather than contribute to worldwide poverty. **Pretty positive none of the scientifically proven facts I gave y’all are actually based on scientific studies. But there’s definitely an argument to be made with those soaps.

Enjoy spring!

Spotlight on Carmen Williams, From Devoted Patron to Passionate Volunteer

3 Apr

Carmen Williams has been growing with us ever since we first opened our Austin location in 2004!

Thank you Carmen!  Glad to have you on board!

Carmen has been a long-time supporter of fair wages for hard-working, impoverished individuals. Soon after Ten Thousand Villages opened it’s doors here in Austin, Carmen made efforts to collaborate through her work at St. Catherine’s Parish.  She taught her church about the often exploitative practices involved in the coffee industry and led them to commit to fair trade purchases.  As a teacher, she promoted and educated her high school students as well as co-workers about the importance of supporting ethical and humane treatment of workers.  In fact, Carmen always makes a point to buy fair trade items whenever it is possible.  Her commitment to equality and fair treatment for all has brought us a wonderful volunteer, a truly passionate individual who has been a dear advocate and friend since the beginning.

We couldn’t rightfully celebrate our ten year anniversary without also saluting Carmen; so we stopped her for a brief chat and this is what she said:

How did you learn of Ten Thousand Villages?

In 2001, I participated in a social justice program called JUST FAITH.  I became aware of fair trade products through this program as we worked to provide fair trade coffee at our church gatherings.

Had you shopped at a 100% fair trade store before coming into Ten Thousand Villages?

Ten Thousand Villages of Austin is my store of choice—I’ve also shopped  at Ten Thousand Villages online as well as other online fair trade organizations such as SERRV.

What was your impression of the store when you walked in for the first time?

Lovely, fun, and odd hours (early on, they were only open on certain days).

Did Ten Thousand Villages’ mission to support fair trade play a role in your continued patronage?  Why?

Yes.  I believe that all working people should be paid fair wages for their labor, especially the working poor.

What are some of your favorite items that you have purchased from Ten Thousand Villages?

Jewelry… and wall hangings, and anything that will work as a wedding, birthday, or Christmas gift.

Is there a particular country that you have a special affinity for that has items in our store?

No—I like them all.

Have you received any compliments on some of the items that you purchased from here?  What are the items?

Always.  Gifts are unique, and the fair trade concept makes them even more special!

Have you ever told others about Ten Thousand Villages? Who?

Everyone—my friends, coworkers, parish, family members…

What led you to start volunteering with us?

My retirement from teaching.

What is your favorite part about being a volunteer at Ten Thousand Villages?

I love the artisans!  Holding a gift by them in my hands makes me feel so connected!

Wow!  Thanks Carmen!  We are truly lucky to have you with us!

Fair trade seeks to transform the lives of poor producers in the developing world by enabling them to use their skills and resources to trade their way out of poverty. It seeks to challenge injustices in trading structures and practices that so often lead to the exploitation and marginalization of poor people. —Tradeasone.com

If you would also like to volunteer here at Ten Thousand Villages and help make a difference for fair trade, contact us here at the store by visiting or call (512)440-0440.  Ask for our volunteer coordinator, Jessica Uramkin!  Or you can email her at volunteers.austin@tenthousandvillages.com.


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