Monday, November 2, 2015

How To Buy Once And Give Twice

It’s the second day in November (okay you probably know that) and the holiday shopping season has officially kicked off.   

I wrestle with the reality that I will be part of this buying frenzy, even though no one in my family needs more stuff, just for the sake of more stuff, to fill our homes and closets and garages.

I want Christmas to be a sweet time. I want to give thoughtful, beautifully wrapped gifts and to focus on what really matters. 

Doing the important things like, eating handcrafted cookies, sipping hot chocolate piled high with real whipped cream, while the whole family gathers around our artificial tree.  

The astounding truth is, last year over the few weeks between right now and Christmas, we Americans spent almost 500 billion dollars. This year, sales are expected to be up by 3.7 percent. 

That is a lot of buying. And presumably a lot of giving.  

This report from ABC News makes a bold claim: if we each spent just $64 on American made goods during our holiday shopping, the result would be 200,000 new jobs.

If buying, "Made in America," could have that kind of impact on our economy, the implication is of course that much of what we purchase from big-box stores is not American made. The problem with this is as deep and wide as the pile of money we spend on stuff, but ultimately when our stuff is cheap, someone was not paid a fair wage to make it.

I've heard of buying fair-trade products and purchasing from socially conscious vendors. I shared this woman's heart for it here. But have still been unsure how to move in that direction in a tangible way.

Then my friend Cherri mentioned how her family was seeking to give gifts from only fair-trade resources this year. I loved the idea, and after a few months of letting the beauty of that to settle over my heart, I wondered how to take this super-sized subject and shrink it down to do-able thing?

Well, I want you to meet someone who is quietly, beautifully showing me how to step off the path of just, "buying stuff" and moving toward, "intentional purchasing." It's a subject that could easily be explored every day until Christmas Day, but today, we are going to peek at how we can say YES to small-business owners and aspiring artisans. In doing this we can actually wrap our arms around the world and allow our purchases to impact the lives of those we love, as well as the lives of those who crafted the gifts.

Win. Win. Two for one. Buy once and give twice.

Meet Sara. She is a  "momtrepreneur," who makes exquisite, handcrafted items and is also a Noonday Ambassador. 
Sara is modeling a necklace from the Noonday Collection
Sara shares her heart about the how and the why, behind this idea of fair-trade and using our dollar buying power to count in the bigger scheme of things. Keep reading. Her words touched me to tears, and I believe they will bless you too.

From  Sara:
"The poverty that runs rampant in 3rd world countries obliterates the kind of opportunities most of us have in America.  The consequent break-down in social structure serves to further the devastation, with people in power abusing those without.  Unethical working conditions are accepted, even expected, as men and women will do whatever work is available when there are hungry mouths at home.  At varying degrees, this could mean unfair wages, unsafe work environments or even modern-day slavery as seen in sex trafficking.  

In contrast to the popular idea that money can solve this issue, it's becoming clear in recent years that no amount of money in the world can get to the heart of the poverty crisis:  a lack of dignity.

Short-term missions and monetary donations are wonderful and I do not discourage this way of giving; but to be cliche; in order to perpetuate the "teach a man to fish" ideal we need to encourage hard work and fair wages.  

Noonday Collection has been built upon this intention.

Noonday partners with businesses in developing countries who have the same vision.  Many small businesses dream about growing and expanding to be able to employ their fellow countrymen, their neighbors and relatives.  They don't lack vision, talent or intelligence.  They simply lack a large enough marketplace.  

That's where Noonday Collection comes in.  They don't employ any artisans or businesses; instead they partner with them through design, collaboration or even no-interest loans, giving that small business the tools it needs to grow itself out of it's own limitations. 

One of my favorite examples of this is the story of Jalia and Daniel in Uganda.  They were the first business that Noonday partnered with, and really, how it all started.  They hired 10 people to complete the first big order to send to America and now they employ over 300 people in their community (through both daily employment and contractual training, if you will).  This year they watched their dream come true when they opened an on-site daycare, offering FREE childcare to their employees.  This is unheard of, and it literally bring tears to my eyes just typing it out.  

They are the longest-standing partners with Noonday and the rest are in varying stages of this same intentional model.

Noonday partners with businesses in 12 different developing countries.

Noonday Collection is a member of the Fair Trade Federation which means, in their business dealings they adhere to a high moral and ethical standard.  But they go so much further than that, truly working toward and desiring to restore dignity to a broken social structure and impoverished communities.  They are literally changing the world, and every trunk show is an opportunity to create a marketplace for these artisans and an increasing demand for handmade, fair trade products in the US.  This furthers their job security and connects us all across the world.  It's just beautiful. 

Purchasing handmade and fair trade items creates a sense of responsibility and awareness.

When I wear a handmade scarf, I can think about the possibility of it being woven by a young mama in Guatemala.  When I wear pieces from Ethiopia, I love knowing that they are made from melted-down artillery from their own fields.  The redemptive story of beauty from ashes is tangibly strung around my neck.  

This vision is catching, and certainly Noonday is not the only company to be making waves.

Here is a company that promotes Fair Trade and Made In The USA companies.

They have a long list of well-researched companies that meet their standards.  

I am not familiar with everything on this list but here are a few I know of or am interested in: In the slums of Guatemala there is a shoemaker named Otto and he employs and trains men and women coming out of gang situations.  They make shoes.  AMAZING shoes.  You can read more about the company and about the founder. (an American.):

(My mom has at least 2 pairs and I think it may be 3 now... )

Elegantees is a socially-responsible company that employs women who are coming out of the sex trade.  Finding ethical employment is ESSENTIAL to maintaining their freedom from that life.

I just ran across this Fair Trade kids clothing brand yesterday and I am itching to peruse it:

If you like luxury plus minimalism, this company is for you:

Another way to shop intentionally is to shop second hand, either locally or from online companies like

Part of the journey is simply being aware.  Less "buying" and more "intentionally purchasing".  If that makes sense?  

As far as gifts and holiday purchasing go, I LOVE the concept that by one purchase I can both gift a friend AND support an artisan or maker.  

There are tons of handmade items here in the US, too!"  


In addition to being a Noonday Ambassador herself, Sara has a beautiful blog: 

Sara loves to make natural products and encourage people, especially mamas, about options to adopt a simpler and more pro-active lifestyle. 

She hand crafts products that are made in small batches, with quality ingredients. I can personally testify that they are amazing.   

She is having an open house this Friday.  She will feature pieces from the Noonday Collection, as well as Made in the USA and handmade, hand crafted items as well.  

If you live in my area and are interested, contact me and I will hook you up. The beauty of this, is how you can choose to stay at home in your most comfortable clothes and shop.

These pictures are some of Sara's favorite pieces from the Noonday Collection. She does have an eye for style doesn't she?

Photo courtesy of Noonday Collection
Photo courtesy of Noonday Collection

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The following photos are of some of Sara's handcrafted products. 
The healing salve is amazing.

So, this is just a small primer if you will, to fair-trade purchasing. A tiny peek into the why and some resources to get you started in the how.

What if this year we all made a slight shift in how we use our purchasing power to bless those we care about and invest in others at the same time?

That really is giving twice with a single purchase.

And remember. There are only 52-ish days of Christmas shopping left.

Do you have resources to share as we embark on this season of buying and giving?

What if this year could be different in how we bless others?

I would love to add your ideas to this list of resources!


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© Rhonda Quaney