Fair Trader Spotlight – Ten Thousand Villages

3 December 2015   |   Tony Gorick, Ten Thousand Villages

While we don’t certify handicrafts, amazing organizations like Ten Thousand Villages do. This guest blog explains a bit more about this longtime fair trader. Chat with them (and us!) on our next #FairtradeChat on Twitter.


The Basics

Ten Thousand Villages sells fair trade* handcrafted goods made by artisans all over the world. With 70 brick-and-mortar stores as well as an extensive online shop, anyone can choose to buy fair trade clothing, furniture and gifts from anywhere in the United States.

Our History

Known today as Ten Thousand Villages, the grassroots effort begun by Edna Ruth Byler in 1946 served as a keystone in the global fair trade movement. Byler believed that she could provide sustainable economic opportunities for artisans in developing countries by creating a viable marketplace for their products in North America. She began by selling handcrafted products out of the trunk of her car to her family and friends in the United States and making a concerted effort to educate her community about the lives of artisans around the world. Although Villages has grown, advanced, and evolved since that time, it has maintained her commitment to an ethical market. Everything is 100% fair trade from start to finish. Always.

Collaborating with Makers From Around the World!

Ten Thousand Villages creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries across the globe to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships. Villages collaborates with nearly 100 artisan groups in over 30 countries. We focus on opportunities to showcase makers’ skills, creativity, and innovation in our markets. Design consultancy, product development, interest-free loans and advance payments for orders are just a few of the other ways Ten Thousand Villages puts makers first in our trading agreements. It isn’t just about fair wages – it’s about creating a lasting relationship that is maintained even – and perhaps, especially –amid natural disasters, political strife, and other challenges. People always come first!

Our Commitment to Environmental Responsibility

We emphasize environmental responsibility in both the process of making products and how they’re transported to the States. Our commitment to environmental sustainability is also found in our use of natural or recycled materials and creation of eco-friendly work spaces.


What Kind of Products Do We Carry?

100% of the product line is fair trade and handmade. From jewelry, bags, scarves and table lines, to baskets, artwork, home décor and drinkware, Ten Thousand Villages carries a wide variety of unique items from around the world. Often the products blend cultural tradition and significance with a modern style. We strongly emphasize the use of natural and recycled materials in product development and creation.

Discover Villages

Find the shop closest to you with our Store Locator! Or browse our online shop, discovering new products, collections, artisan information, and updates.

For more information on Ten Thousand Villages, the makers and products, check out www.tenthousandvillages.com. Head over to our blog, Mosaic, and discover artisan stories, DIY articles, and other features.

*Note: Ten Thousand Villages does not certify through Fairtrade America, but rather has their own set of standards and agreements. Find out more.

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