"(NECN: Burlington, Vermont) - The secret of success, for one greeting card company, lies in the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Himalayan mountains of India. The company is called 'Hope For Women,' and its aim is to pair disadvantaged artisan women with marketing opportunities.
NECN's Anya Huneke has the story.
15-years-ago, Evan Goldsmith took a trip that would change not only his life, but the lives of women halfway across the world. He lived and worked in the Himalayas of India, and ended up meeting a group of artisans crafting hand-made greeting cards.
Evan: "I kept sending the cards home, and people loved them."
The problem was, the women had no access to a market for their products. As a result, they were making very little money for their hard work. Evan returned to the U.S. with a plan. He started an organization in Burlington, Vermont, called "Hope for Women," to provide the women with a marketing resource.
A year and a half ago, with the help of his father, a New York businessman, he brought the fair trade, environmentally-friendly cards to the retail market. The rest, as they say, is history.
As of now, all the cards being sold come from India, but soon, they'll come from El Salvador, too. Hope for Women has just signed on with an artisan group there, so come July, the cards will be sold in stores as well.
Evan: "Right now, we're in over 500 stores across 47 states..."
Including natural foods giant 'Wholefoods.' Scribbles, a stationary store in Burlington, is another retailer. It took little time to convince manager Jane Jarecki that this was a viable product.
JareckI: "The fact that they're local, fair trade, and beautiful for the amount they cost, keeps them flying off the shelf."
50 women in India are behind the 20,000 cards created each month. The cards are crafted using paper made from recycled cotton rags, vegetable-based ink, and pressed flowers, and are packaged in compostable plastic.
Evan: "We're trying to be as complete a package as possible, so there are very few reasons for someone to say, 'no - you're not meeting certain criteria.'
David: "This is a real marketing niche. Being as green and as fair trade as you can be - is becoming something that's going to have a lot of legs."
Amber: "The greatest thing of all - you're doing something where you're making the world a better place."
Better, for sure, for these women, Evan says; many of whom were barely making minimum wage...
Evan: "The ability to make 5-7 times that per day - translates to the ability to put a child in school or get medical security."
Continued... Source (with video)
The UK has long since supported and enjoyed the mutual benefits of Fair Trade Greeting Cards. Shared Earth have supported the work of Salay Handmade Paper Industries who have produced beautiful handmade cards since 1987.
Salay Handmade Paper Industries
available from: Shared Earth
Why don't Cool Cards sell these beautiful cards?
Well... We did at one time! The Cool Cards website was once part of our Fair Trade gift shop. Sadly, our shop closed but Cool Cards lived on and did sell Salay cards. One drawback of the Internet is that it is very difficult to convey the fine detail, beauty and quality of these handmade cards on-line. Our card ranges change over time depending on customer choices. We are continually on the hunt for Fair Trade, environmentally friendly cards and wide open to suggestions!
Learn more about Fair Trade:
Wiki: Fair trade
Oxfam: Make Trade Fair
British Association for Fair Trade Shops