Ten Thousand Villages has been pioneering the fair trade movement since 1946. We’ve opened stores across the United States, expanded our product line and network of artisan partners, built an online shop, and collaborated on exclusive designs with other ethical brands we admire. We have evolved a lot over the years, but two things have never changed: our commitment to fair trade principles, and our steadfast dedication to maintaining a place in the North American marketplace for artisans. Our mission remains, creating opportunities for artisans in developing countries, who are often excluded from, or exploited by, the global economy. We are breaking the cycle of poverty and igniting social change.
As our founder Edna Ruth Byler discovered when she was working with women artisans in Puerto Rico, opportunities for craftspeople to earn fair and steady income can only exist when there’s a space to share their stories and sell their products. But in the increasingly competitive and ever-changing retail landscape, how do we uphold our mission to break the cycle of poverty and ignite social change in communities all over the world?
We continuously evolve and take bold steps into the future.
At Ten Thousand Villages, we believe that the future of traditional brick and mortar stores is a positive one, but only by proceeding more ethically and sustainably than ever before. By taking our ethical and sustainable business practices and applying them to how we do construction, we work to ensure that our stores reflect our business model: putting people and planet first.
As we move toward a brighter, more sustainable future, here’s what you will find inside our new Maker-to-Market spaces:
Details that put people first –
Ten Thousand Villages is 100% fair trade and has been since our beginning. Every product you find in our stores is made by our fair trade partners or is a collaboration with a brand that adheres to our strict ethical standards. It’s essential for us to know that artisans earn a fair wage in safe working conditions, invest in partnerships that empower marginalized communities, and honor the traditional craft and culture behind each design. Our new Maker-to-Market spaces take that fair trade commitment one step further by incorporating artisan-made features and fixtures into the stores’ design.
Look closely, and you’ll notice artisan made lighting and handmade furniture pieces sent to us by our partners, that have been repurposed into fixtures.
Eco-friendly alternatives –
Our children deserve to inherit a healthy planet from us. That’s why we work so closely with artisans to design products made from sustainably sourced and recycled materials, and why we decided to make our new stores as environmentally friendly as possible.
The designers of our Maker-to-Market spaces continue to find innovative ways to reduce our negative impact on the planet we share. Creating fixtures from recycled materials and repurposed objects curated from local markets keeps things out of landfills and makes each piece one-of-a-kind. Implementing energy-conserving lighting reduces our carbon footprint and using water-based paints eliminates the need for harmful solvents while painting and cleaning.
Just say no to plastic! We’re taking steps to reduce the amount of plastic we use. Keep your eye out for our 100% recycled paper bags and boxes and a selection of reusable shopping bag options.
The eco-wrapping station includes tree-free wrapping paper, recycled sari, and tagua accents to personalize that gift you just picked out. Tagua nut has come to be known as “vegetable ivory” and is an ethical alternative to plastics.
Community Connection –
Our new Maker-to-Market spaces are a place where you can experience the craft and culture of many of our artisan partners firsthand.
Learn about the people who make our products by seeing and touching their work, observe their artistic process through video and art instillations, and speak with our knowledgeable staff about the impact our long-term fair trade relationships are making on communities all over the world.
For more than seventy years, Ten Thousand Villages has been a leader in the global fair trade movement.
It is with great honor that we hold space in the American marketplace to bring the stories and products of our artisan partners to you.
Each purchase made and donation received expands our ability to break the generational cycle of poverty. Next time you are near one of our new Maker-to-Market spaces in Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr, and Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, we hope you’ll stop in to connect with your global community.
And be sure to stay tuned for more new locations. You never know where our sustainable stores will turn up next!