The Season for Sapia

Greetings Fair Traders,

Please allow me to introduce you to Ana Maria Piedrahita, her artisan group from Columbia, Sapia, and their use of the ecological wonder-nut tagua and dried orange peels! Ana Maria founded Sapia in Columbia’s capital of Bogota to assist artisans working in the lower income brackets. Sapia employees 40 people directly; as the company grows, it reaches out to other artisan groups in rural areas to assist more than 50 other artisans.

Columbia ranks as one of the highest per capita in orange juice consumption. In Bogota, many street corners are occupied by venders selling fresh squeezed orange juice, and Ana Maria innovativly recognized the discarded peels as a nice material to create beautiful products.

Sapia thus provides additional income to these juicers by paying for their orange peels so that they can create the items that Catherine is modeling for us here: the Orange Peel Angel, Orange Peel Garland, and the Orange Peel Christmas Trees.

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Sapia also crafts items out of Tagua, otherwise known as the “vegetable ivory.” Tagua is seen as a highly eco-friendly material because its strong resemblance to ivory helps combat the poaching of elephants. In fact, the scientific name of the palm the tagua comes from the Phytelephas, which translates to “plant elephant.” Taguas are harvested when the nut ripens and falls from the tree, making this resource material environmetally friendly as it discourages rainforest deforestation.

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Ana Maria feels like the most important benefit to fair trade are the long-term relationships that allow for her and her employees to plan for the future and grow their business, as well as the respect that a fair trade business relationship provides. She would like customers to understand that they are not doing charity, “they are supporting the lives of people who want to work.” Ana Maria says that she “feels really happy and connected to the people. I think my work can connect me to people like sharing smiles.”

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Celebrate the intimacy that fair trade provides and share a smile today!

Your Chief Story Teller,

Becca

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