Ten Thousand Villages describes themselves as more than a store, a place where you connect with your global village. And that is exactly what they have created! Created in the 1940s by Edna Ruth Byler, who broke into entrepreneurship by selling textiles out of her car, Ten Thousand Villages has today created more than $140 million in sustainable income for more than 20,000 makers in 30 developing countries. Edna had lived through the Depression, so when she met women in Puerto Rico struggling to feed their families, she could see herself in their shoes. She also knew of the importance of dignity and was called to help find a way for these women to rise above their circumstance. She noted the fine textiles that the women created, but had no place to sell, and brought them home to the US to sell to her neighbors.
Soon after the Mennonite Central Committee, an aid and relief agency, saw the long-term value that a sustainable income would bring to impoverished villages, such as the one Edna was helping in Puerto Rico. They rallied behind her and soon enough Edna's acts of kindness grew into a global fair trade movement!
The story behind Ten Thousand Villages is one for the history books. So to say we were thrilled to bring them to Change Co. would be an understatement! Every design is created with love using local materials and tradition passed down through generations in the maker's communities. Every purchase directly improves lives through supporting the maker's crafts and providing a sustainable income for their families. The sustainable income that is earned allows mothers to put food on the table, send their children to school, provide a safe and secure home, and make health a priority! With this business model, Ten Thousand Villages is working to end the cycle of poverty with dignity.
They don't stop there though! Ten Thousand Villages ensures safe working conditions (child labor is prohibited), focuses on building lasting relationships in the communities they work in, preserves timeless crafts by working together with the makers for new designs, and makes protecting the planet a priority through emphasizing the use of recycled or renewable natural resources with sustainable practices. They take an interest in the women who are often overlooked and give them a voice - creating an environment where they can thrive and change their communities for the better!
We are so proud to support Ten Thousand Villages by carrying their clay bowls that are handmade by women at the Lombok Pottery Center in Indonesia. These bowls are perfect for snacks, soup, or simply decoration - and each provides the maker's with a voice for change. The women of Lombok Pottery Center cooperative created these clay bowls in a tradition passed down through generations for hundreds of years. Using clay dug near their villages, they shape pieces by hand, use simple tools to create designs and fire pots in communal pits using straw and coconut husks. In an impoverished area with little economic opportunity, this skill is a treasure, helping women earn sustainable incomes and their children achieve high levels of education.
Ten Thousand Villages is a social enterprise that we plan to support time and time again. With every peice the world gets a little smaller, and hearts get a little bigger.