The beautiful Christmas tree decked out in bright teal and fuchsia in the window at Ten Thousand Villages was just the reminder I needed that I had yet to check out the store’s new holiday collection. Ten Thousand Villages has been one of my favourite sources for holiday ornaments for some time. While it is often dismissed by many as simply a collection of curios, it actually boasts an impressive array of home decoratives and accessories.What’s even more impressive is the story behind this successful chain and the work they do worldwide.
Started in 1946 by Edna Ruth Byler, a Mennonite volunteer was visiting a Puerto Rican women’s sewing project and came home with many of the beautiful pieces to sell to friends and neighbours. The pieces were so popular that soon she began to add other items from projects across the globe. By the 1970s, the project had moved out of Edna’s basement and into its own shop. In 1996, it became known as Ten Thousand Villages. The organization was developed with the premise of supporting and benefiting artisans rather than maximizing profits with products that have been ethically and sustainably-produced. This way, rather than handing out charity, it provides men and women in poorer countries with something far more valuable – a sense of dignity and the opportunity to earn an honest, fair wage and provide a home, food and education for their families.
What’s even better about supporting these artisans through your purchase, is that you really don’t have to compromise your style at all to do it; you can make your home look good, and do good at the same time. While tighter purse strings don’t always allow us to be as generous over the holidays as we would like to be, this is an excellent way of making sure that the money you do spend has the maximum positive effect.