There are a few things I try to do every year during the holiday season before the extra rush of tourist come in. One of those traditions is to visit the Christmas markets around the city. I love seeing all the unique items sold at these events. Whether they were made on the other side of the globe or right in Brooklyn. Its great to see the craftsmanship in these markets.
For the socially conscious shopper The Artisan Pledge lets buyers know the products are not mass produced . Most items are hand made by artisans in the NY or the USA. Many goods sold in the Union Square market are made from recycled, reused or vintage materials. While some are fair trade certified or from a local store or farmer.
Meghan Patrice Riley Jewelry is made in Brooklyn and hand made my artisans and metal smiths. Unconventional materials such as bridge cabling, industrial ball chain, electrical wire and safety pins are all used in these pieces. Once I heard this I thought the pieces would weigh a ton, but this is not the case. The unorthodox materials combined with fabrication and textile techniques make the pieces delicate and light. The semiprecious stones and metals used in the jewelry add luxury and a feminine touch to each piece.
Particularly unique are their head, shoulder and body pieces some of which can be found at Free People.The sculptural designs incorporate fashion, art and functionality into one. MPR is sold in Free People and in museums around the U.S. including the Guggenheim in NYC. MPR has been featured in magazine’s, reality TV and in New York and China Fashion Weeks. Prices range from $45.00 to $625.00.MPR
Article 22 Peacebomb
New Yorker Elizabeth Suda began Article 22 while searching for the answer to “how and by whom the goods we consume are made?” She found herself in Laos and without a plan began collaborating with local women who had textile businesses. This collaboration and finding artisans who were melting bombs into spoons lead to the creation of Article 22. Made in Laos the jewelry sold by Peacebomb are made from bombs thrown during the lesser known Secret War in Laos. Not much coverage of the war can be found due to the fact that it occurred at the same time as the Vietnam War from 1963-1974. A jewelry company with heart, proceeds from each sale are returned to the farmer-artisan in Laos.
Peacebomb gives the artisans and their families a chance to clean the fields of Laos and earn income. During the war 80 million bombs failed to detonate, leaving the farm lands of Laos full of bombs and scrape metal. Peacebomb and the artisans of Laos help clear over 65,000 square meters of bomb. The clearing of bombs not only helps individual farmers but the whole country as 80% of the population are farmers.
The transformation of bombs into everyday items originated when the farmers of Laos began melting bombs into spoons in the 1970’s. Today a total of 15 families make a living creating Peacebomb jewelry and making 5x the minimum wage in Laos. Named after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 22 is as fashionable as it is socially conscious with shows in both New York and Paris Fashion Week. You can learn more about this Fair Trade company here Article 22 .
Co-Founded by Diana Mao Nomi Network’s purpose is to fight modern day slavery and human trafficking. After a trip to Cambodia where human trafficking is still a factor in their society Diana along with Alissa Moore and Supei Liu were inspired to create Nomi Network. When the trio visited a shelter for youth survivors of human trafficking and sexual assaulted they met 8 year old Nomi. A survivor of sex trafficking Nomi’s story and resilience inspired them to name the company after her.
Nomi Network provides training, jobs and community development services for survivors and woman at high risk of trafficking and abuse. The network trains the women with skills such as sewing and manufacturing that can be retaught throughout their communities. The goal of Nomi Network is to empower them to change their local economy and social structures. Not only do they teach them how to make the products they teach them basic literacy and mathematics that help equip them for everyday life. All of which they use to find jobs in fashion manufacturing, small businesses and entrepreneurships. The women creating the products sold by Nomi Network learn micro-lending skills and can eventually become financially independent. The network also provides legal services and scholarships for the woman and their families.
The local entrepreneurs Nomi Network partners with gain manufacturing skills like trend forecasting, product pricing and product development to help further their business. These skills allow them the ability to sell their goods, create business relationship’s and become a part of the global economy.
Buying Nomi Network products is not the only way to contribute to the end of human trafficking. Nomi Network collaborates with volunteers, companies and corporations that want to contribute in anyway they feel fit. Individuals can also contribute to the cause by hosting Nomi Network Fair Fashion Parties where you sell products to your family and friends. Nomi Network products range from $8.50- $78.00 and consist of clothing, housewares and accessories. Learn more about Nomi Network and how to get involved with this free trade brand.Nomi Network
Let me know if you’ve visited any Christmas markets in your part of the world and what unique items you find in them.