Be sure to check out our special offers in our April newsletter: Green Box Boutique April 2015 News
Maimonides, a twelfth century scholar, defines eight levels of what we today call “social goodness”. The top rung on the ladder is to support a person with a gift or loan or by entering into a partnership or finding employment for a person in order to give them the assist they need to become independent.
Global Mamas is a company whose work operates at that top level each and every day. If you want to understand what social goodness is all about, what Fair Trade is about, how worldwide gender inequality depresses economic advancement for all of us and how focusing efforts like Global Mamas on women can benefit us all, or the tremendous power of cooperation, visit their excellent and informative website.
One set of statements that grabbed my attention was the following: “Gender inequality contributes to a cycle of discrimination in both the private and public sphere. Inside the home, women may lack voice in household decision-making and girls are often the first to be denied access to education and good nutrition if the household budget is insufficient to cover expenses. Outside the home, women experience diminished options for work, most often limited to low-paying, low-skill jobs with little opportunity for advancement. In fact, while women’s work represents 66% of the world’s working hours and produces half of the world’s food, women earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property. Thus, women bear a disproportionate burden of the world’s poverty, a phenomenon termed the “feminization of poverty”. According to some estimates, females represent 70% of the world’s poor….
“Research has shown that men are more likely to spend disposable income on consumables, while women tend to make investments for the longer-term well being of their family. The World Bank found that extra income controlled by women correlates with increased probability that children go to school and maintain good health than if income had been controlled by fathers. Thus, financial resources put into the hands of women can be seen as an investment into the overall nutritional, health and educational status of the family unit.”
The thoughtfulness and expertise behind Global Mamas is impressive on every page of their website, where we are introduced to eight founders, six women producers from Ghana and two consulting on business and management from North America. We learn of their clearly defined mission and how each step they take furthers that mission. We can track the success of the organization, measured both in numbers and in “dreams realized”. That 2003 founding group of eight women is today more than 550 Ghanian producers in eight Ghanian locations and one additional office in the U.S.
Each Ghanian producer earns on average 75% more than the minimum wage. Each of the 116 Mama business owners employs an average of 2 more women. Each woman cares for several family members and purchases goods and services on their behalf in the community. Many women work from home or go into production facilities owned by Global Mamas.
All of this came from the efforts of six strong and enterprising but struggling women in Ghana and two young women who came to their country through the Peace Corps and fell in love with it and with them. This business model demonstrates not only the strength and clarity of purpose of these women of vision but the tremendous power of cooperation.
We congratulate Ghanian founders, Alise Korsah, Elizabeth Ampiah, Emma Myers, Esther Gyiepi Garbrah, Florence Thompson, Hannah Dodor, and American founders, Renae Adam and Kristin Johnson on creating a business that is contributing in such positive ways to the world, one woman at a time.
We are proud to carry Global Mamas products at Green Box Boutique and hope to have more soon. Stop in to check out these delightful boys and girls clothing items and accessories. There’s lots more room up there on the eighth rung of the ladder!
This year we’d like to wish everyone a sharing, caring Christmas and thank you, our customers, and our vendors for partnering with us to build a better world.
As our customers, you care about the people with whom we share our world and care about the environment. You show your caring in your shopping choices. Every purchase you make at Green Box Boutique is one that shares with others by helping disadvantaged workers all over the world and by saving our beautiful world so future generations can enjoy it as well. We thank you so much for supporting this effort.
And we’d also like to thank our vendors, each of whom cares and shares in such amazing ways. We invite you to read about them in our blog and learn about their contributions, efforts you also support with your purchases at the Green Box Boutique:
- Pompeii St. Soap Company
- Mata Traders and Again
- Synergy and Again
- Maria’s Style
- Avatar Imports
- Laura Tanner Jewelry
- Wild Blossom Meadery and Winery
- Bridgewater Candles
- Nadina’s Cremes
- Oka-b Shoes
- Wei of Chocolate
- Starfish Project
- All our wine vendors
And so many more that we haven’t had a chance to write about yet.
Thank you all, and have a wonderful, caring and sharing Christmas.
Are you looking for the perfect dress to wear through the holiday season? A dress that makes you look and feel good? A gift for yourself and a gift to the world?
At Green Box Boutique, we specialize in items that give in so many directions. Let’s look at two dresses we have for you to help you feel beautiful inside and out during this holiday season.
From Synergy, we have the beautiful Little Black Dress pictured above. Accessorized here with an Angelica Rustici necklace and an Ili World purse, the dress evidences the Synergy style, softly draping, body-hugging fabrics. It shares these other features with Synergy clothing:
- 95% GOTS certified organic cotton melange fabric, 5% Spandex
- Dyed with low-impact dyes
- Cap sleeves
- Decorative pleating on front
- Fitted silhouette
- Hem falls just above the knees
- Hand wash, line dry
- Made in Nepal
Stop in soon to pick up this beauty, because as of this writing, we have only three left. Oh, and don’t forget the Oka-b shoes!
Read more about Synergy and the great work they do as social entrepreneurs in our earlier post.
Or imagine yourself in this delightful Poetry in Motion Purple dress from Mata Traders. Mata describes it this way:
A peplum dress in gorgeous prints…be still our hearts! It’s extra fun styled with loafers, but you can also wear it with heels for work or play. Don’t be scared to pile on the jewelry, too!
With characteristic Mata handwork, the dress is sure to shine as brightly as any holiday lights when you’re out celebrating. And as they say, don’t be scared to pile on the jewelry! We have so much from which you can choose at Green Box Boutique.
We have just five left of this special creation, Poetry in Motion. Stop in today to check it out. And if you’d like to know more about this wonderful company and how you’re giving to others while you give to yourself, read our post, Mata Traders: Beautiful on Both Sides.
We love our vendors, their products and their commitment to social goodness. We’d like you to know as much about them as possible. And we’d like to see you decking out the holiday season in these beautiful clothes!
An article from 2014 in Forbes Magazine, “Why You Need to Support Small Businesses,” points to five reasons to support local businesses:
- You can often find good prices at local stores. In contrast to what many think, stores don’t control pricing, vendors do. This means that a common perception that thrifty shoppers can do better at big box stores and national chains isn’t necessarily a true perception.
- Inventory is not always more easily available at big box stores. Small, local stores shop from the same vendors as big stores and national chains . . . and specialty shops often carry items that big stores don’t. Small, local store proprietors put a lot of energy into building relationships with their customers and are usually very anxious to serve their customers well. If you don’t see something you want, and it comes from a vendor that store uses, the store is often able to contact the vendor and have the item sent out.
- Customer service is more personalized. Contacting a vendor to get an item that is of particular interest is just one way that local proprietors go out of their way to serve their customers.
- Sometimes small businesses offer greater product diversity and more options than nationally-owned chain stores. Certainly they will provide options more suited to their local customers. Small, local business owners often seek out specialty items to distinguish themselves. Since owners have a direct relationship with their customers, living in the same community, they are more likely to pick just the assortment of items that will appeal to their market. A huge assortment doesn’t make for product diversity if the assortment is irrelevant to a community.
- Local businesses are more likely to give back to a community. Most local business give back to their communities not only through local taxes but through monetary and in-kind contributions to local organizations and charities. They are likely to support local initiatives like environmental consciousness or keeping streets safe or clean and beautiful.
It’s doubly wonderful when you can support a local business that supports another local business. This is the case when you purchase Laura Tanner Jewelry at the Green Box Boutique in Woodstock! Centered on the Square in “our town,” the Green Box Boutique represents all of the strong points of local businesses mentioned above: good prices for specialty items you won’t necessarily find at chain stores, great, personalized customer service, and active engagement in community activities and services.
So isn’t it great to find out that the Green Box Boutique also supports localism in its choice of vendors! Laura Tanner Jewelry is based in Evanston, where all the jewelry is not only designed by Laura Tanner Swinand but is handmade by locally employed workers under her direct supervision.
About 8% of Laura’s business is over the internet, but the bulk of her business is in local stores, almost half of them in the Greater Metro Chicago area. We are fortunate to have her jewelry in Woodstock.
Laura began making and selling “funky enamel earrings and safety-pin bracelets” as a 13 year old. After completing a bachelors and a masters degree in art history, she decided to return to what she loved, making jewelry. She is drawn to meditative, tactile work, and appreciates the innate natural beauty and subtle imperfections of gemstones. Her website describes her work as “contemporary” and “timeless.” Others describe her work as simple, delicate, sophisticated, versatile and inventive. The Examiner calls her signature collections “trendy” and “unique,” with “grace” and “femininity.”
The jewelry is created with gemstone beads and pearls and precious metals. The pieces are designed to mix, match and layer. Each piece is handmade from gemstones, silver, gold-fill and gold vermeil metals. The jewelry is moderately priced and is featured in the 15th Annual One-of-a-Kind Show Chicago, December 3-6, 2015, at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, where Laura Tanner Jewelry is one of 600 artisans in the show. The show is designed to provide an opportunity to find unique, one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts. But you don’t have to go even that far since we have it right here in Woodstock!
Even the raw materials come primarily from the U.S. or are purchased from U.S.-based suppliers whenever possible. The packaging supplies are made in the U.S., and publicity materials are printed locally by environmentally friendly printers.
Laura Tanner Jewelry expresses its environmental consciousness by savings all metal scraps and sending them to a supplier for recycling. Paper waste is recycled and food waste composted. Gift boxes and bags are from recycled content. The main supplier of their material is solar powered.
Laura Tanner Jewelry supports charitable organizations involved with assistance to women, children and the disabled and provides in-kind contributions to local raffles, benefits, events and more.
As of March, 2014, there were 28.2 million businesses in the U.S., with three-quarters of them small, local businesses. Only half of them will survive five years or more, but all of them work hard to bring unique contributions to local communities. Do your part to make certain these business remain in our communities. Shop locally — and if you can do that with twice the power, supporting local businesses that support other local businesses that support other local businesses . . . well, why wouldn’t you?
One of the great things about working with socially responsible vendors is that you get to have a role in enlarging the circle of involvement at so many levels. When we tell you about the work an organization is doing, you know that your purchase supports that work. You might even find it meaningful to get involved directly with the work of that organization.
Starfish Project is one of those amazing projects. It is work that demonstrates the power of “one” and how the contribution of one becomes the power of many through the contributions each of us makes. It is also work that in the face of potentially overwhelming need keeps a focus on the individual and through that focus accomplishes very big things.
Here’s the founding story from the Starfish Project, a story of how the contribution of one makes a difference:
One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked, he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.
Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, sir.”
The old man chuckled aloud. “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”
HOPE FOR THE ONE
At Starfish Project, we believe that each woman, each person, each “one” is important. The issue of women being exploited, mistreated and devalued is a global concern. None of us can solve the entire problem, but, like the boy in the parable, we at Starfish Project focus our efforts on restoring hope for each woman, each “one.”
THE WORK OF ONE FOR ONE GROWS TO MANY “ONES”
Starfish Project began in 2006 with a mission to empower exploited women in Asia. As Jenny McGee, Elkhart, Indiana native and founder of Starfish Project, walked through the streets of Beijing, China, she decided she wanted to reach out to women working in the brothels. With a small group of friends, she began to talk with women over time, gaining their trust and learning of their need for stable employment.
Eventually relationships grew strong enough that some of the women left the brothels and came to live in a Starfish shelter set up in that city. By 2007, the Project opened a jewelry business to provide work and business experience for the women in the shelter. Each woman in the shelter participates in various aspects of jewelry making and distribution, earning a salary while living in a healthy environment.
In 2011, Starfish Project was approached by organizations in other locations in China and decided to set up two more shelters. Today, Starfish Project serves more than 50 women, operating shelters in three cities in China.
Through the jewelry company, women have an opportunity to take on new levels of responsibility and leadership and are able to provide for their families through meaningful employment. Women can grow and heal through building relationships, counseling, vocational training, language acquisition, family education benefits and health care access as well as benefit from stable housing in the shelter.
2015 A BIG YEAR FOR THE STARFISH PROJECT
In 2015, Jenny McGee spoke to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, signaling a more international engagement for the Starfish Project, which most recently helps women return safely to their countries of origin.
Also in 2015, the Starfish Project was the Kering Foundation’s 2015 Social Entrepreneur Award Winner for China. Launched in 2009, and chaired by Kering Group Chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault, the Kering Corporate Foundation combats Violence against Women. It supports NGOs and social entrepreneurs, helps raise awareness on violence against women and encourages employee involvement in the Americas, Western Europe and Asia. More than 140,000 women benefited from the Foundation’s support since its inception. For more information: www.keringfoundation.org @KeringForWomen
A successful crowd sourcing campaign brought the organization. $73,770 in one month, allowing them to expand their work. An Advocate Program available on the Starfish Project website provides opportunities for others to get involved in this important work.
As they began, though, so the Starfish Project continues. Project staff and volunteers regularly go out to the streets to find and develop relationships with women still trapped in exploitation. These teams go out nearly every day of the week and seek to build meaningful relationships with each woman and serve them in practical ways, such as taking them for hospital visits, providing language and health education and celebrating the women’s birthdays. Nearly all of the women have histories of degradation and abuse before they became trapped in exploitation, so the Starfish Project seeks to affirm each woman as worthwhile and being of value.
With their growing visibility, influence, reach and accolades, the Starfish Project mission remains simple: like the boy in the Parable, to restore hope for each woman, each “one.”
At the Green Box Boutique, we are proud to carry this beautiful, socially conscious jewelry. Please stop in to view the collection, know that your purchase makes a meaningful contribution toward building new lives.