Of course, you know that all the products in our store are handmade and fairly traded, but did you also know that some of the products do not come to us through Ten Thousand Villages? One of our favorite non-Ten Thousand Villages fair trade vendors is based right here in Austin, Texas! Handmade Expressions is a vendor for socially and environmentally responsible products from India. Like Ten Thousand Villages, they work with underprivileged and disadvantaged artisans to improve their economic and social standing by creating self-sustainable employment following fair trade practices.
One of our best sellers from Handmade Expressions is the cruelty-free, tree-free leather bound journals.
The really cool thing about these journals is how they are made. All the leather is cruelty-free, which means it comes from naturally dead animals. The journals are made in Rajasthan, India. Livestock has a lot of agricultural and household value for the vegetarian population in India, which makes it economically unwise to kill animals for their skin. Inside the sturdy hand-tooled cover is a thick journal of cotton rag paper. Artisans collect cotton waste and turn it into a pulp, making paper that is 100% tree-free. The final result: a rich textured paper, great for writing, drawing and painting.
Handmade Expressions has a wonderful website with lots of information about fair trade and lots of great pictures of the artisans who produce their merchandise. Be sure to check out the Community Development Projects that they are working on and their fair trade blog.
(author: Polly, Ten Thousand Villages Austin Volunteer Coordinator)