How to Shop Online To Give Back to Global Artisans

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Apr 22, 2016 / 0 comments

When we travel, we always buy art and textiles from local artists. It's one of the best souvenirs (besides experiences), and really brings back your travel experiences, when you're at home. But what about when you can't always travel - or need a special gift from a place, and aren't headed there soon? I can recommend our friends Bret and Mary at Green Global Travel (you already love their site) - today they are launching a Fair Trade Boutique. It's lovely, creative, global, and best of all, supports artisans from around the world (including their daughter!). I love many things about this shop, including the wide array of beautiful, artistic items, the stories behind each one, and the ability to support real people, not big boxes, with my purchases. 

Bret Love and Mary Gabbert, of Green Global Travel - launching a Fair Trade Boutique today!

Bret & Mary of Green Global Travel

And while I want just about everything in the boutique, I am really in love with the Marine Life Collection bracelets (no surprise). I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at them (thank you, GGT!), and have been wearing them almost non-stop since they arrived last week. I can't tell you how pleasing it is to be connected to nature in small ways like this - through jewelry, I can support wildlife, artisans, and be happy with symbols of dolphins, turtles, and rays with me all the time. It's a good luck talisman to me, honoring the ocean and artists.

My marine life bracelets from the Fair Trade Boutique at Green Global Travel

I didn't want to remove them for the photo, but needs must...

I was so impressed with the boutique and working with global artisans - and the unique ability to buy handmade fair trade - that I asked Bret and Mary for more information. You'll love what they said - AND, they gave wandering educators a special discount code! It's at the end of this article. When you visit the Boutique, you'll be amazed - and start exploring what you can get for the loved ones in your life (and yourself, of course!). Take a look...

How to Shop Online To Give Back to Global Artisans

What inspired you to start this Handmade collection?

First off, we wanted to come up with a way to monetize our site without a lot of invasive advertising and without betraying the brand we've spent the last five years building. We've also wanted to find a way to give back to the places we love to travel, and to help fund conservation efforts around the world. I've been making my own beaded necklaces and bracelets ever since I started going to Native American Pow Wows back in the early '90s. When we heard that a good blogging friend of ours was having good luck selling animal rings on his site, it inspired us to combine 3 of our passions: making stuff by hand, wildlife, and conservation. And since my 14-year-old daughter is trying to make money to save up for a car and college, it quickly became a family effort.

Safari collection bracelets at Green Global Travel's Fair Trade Boutique

The safari collection

What elements/themes/materials from your travels do you include?

For the charms we use on our bracelets, we wanted to incorporate animals we've seen and passions we pursue during our travels. A South African Safari originally inspired my love of Ecotourism, so the Elephant, Giraffe and Zebra were the first ones we combined into a Safari Collection. We're avid snorkelers and Scuba Divers, and we love Sea Turtles and Dolphins, but it took us a while to find the Spotted Ray that rounds out our Marine Life Collection. My grandmother, who was a huge influence on me, was an avid bird-lover: The Hummingbird in Green Global Travel's logo was originally a tribute to her. We added two of our favorite birds– the Owl and the Toucan– to create the Birdwatchers Collection. There are still a few other animals we'd love to have charms for (Tree Frogs, Bears, Cheetahs, Whales), but we haven't found any we like yet. We may have to create our own!

Birdwatchers collection bracelets, at Green Global Travel's Fair Trade Boutique

Birdwatchers Collection

Let's talk fair trade - how do you incorporate this into your offerings?

Fair Trade was a natural fit for our site. One of the central themes of Ecotourism is that it should benefit local communities, and we ALWAYS buy souvenirs from local artisans and co-ops when we travel. So by buying products from Fair Trade suppliers or buying directly when we travel, we can ensure that local artists and craftsmen earn a fair wage for their work. And then by giving 10% of all profits to conservation projects in developing nations, we hope to double the positive impact our business makes on these places and provide a more sustainable income source for years to come.  

Fair trade products in the Peruvian Amazon. From How to Shop Online To Give Back to Global Artisans

Fair trade products in the Peruvian Amazon

What other items can readers find in your online store? How do you choose what to offer?

With the exception of our "Bracelets That Give Back" collection and our "Private Collection" (which has items purchased during our travels), we work with 21 different Fair Trade artisans and co-ops from all around the world. Some of my personal favorites include Encantada Pottery from Mexico, Global Mamas clothing from Ghana, Ilala Weavers baskets from South Africa, Noahs Ark wood carvings from India, and Silk Road Bazaar baby booties from Kyrgyzstan. There's also lots of jewelry, accessories, artwork and musical instruments... hopefully something for everyone. As for how we choose it, it's pretty simple: We won't sell anything on our site that we wouldn't personally want to own or buy for the people we love. It really is a reflection of our individual tastes.  


A few of my favorite items: 

A purse made from recycled jeans labels. From Green Global Travel's fair trade boutique

Purse Made from Recycled Jeans Labels

Encantana plate from Mexico. From How to Shop Online To Give Back to Global Artisans
Hand-Painted Dishes 

Girls Patchwork Gypsy Dress

Abalone & Mother of Pearl Hummingbird Pin from Green Global Travel's Fair Trade Boutique

Abalone & Mother of Pearl Hummingbird Pin 

African Batik Textiles 

Where do you give back? 

We're in the process of starting our own non-profit foundation, through which we'll do all of our charitable conservation work going forward. We're putting aside 10% of all profits we make, and at the end of the year we hope to do a big blogger-driven fundraiser along the lines of the ones we did for Thailand's Elephant Nature Park in 2014 and Rhinos Without Borders in 2015. Ideally we'll do a matching funds campaign, where we'll match every dollar donated up to $10,000, or $12,000, or whatever that 10% comes out to. By getting corporate sponsors to donate prizes we can raffle off, we think we can raise $20,000-$30,000 a year this way, and then give it to conservation projects where that money is most needed. Right now Elephant Nature Park, Rhinos Without Borders, and the WILD Foundation are all key passion projects for us. But we also hope to work with local NGOs to build and fund conservation projects from the ground up, kind of like an eco-focused version of KIVA.

How to Shop Online To Give Back to Global Artisans

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

I saw a meme on Facebook that other day that kind of says it all: "When you buy from a small business, you're not helping helping a CEO buy a 3rd holiday home. You're helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy get his team jersey, moms and dads put food on the table." When you buy from us, you're actually helping in 3 different ways– you're paying local artisans in developing nations a fair wage for their work, you're funding conservation efforts, and you're helping our family run Green Global Travel as an ad-free website. We've searched five years for a way to monetize GGT without selling our souls, and this really feels like a perfect fit for us. We're hoping people will like the boutique approach we're taking, and that they'll feel good about shopping with a company that genuinely wants to do good things for the world. 

How to Shop Online To Give Back to Global Artisans