<b>What is the significance of the name Ten Thousand Villages? </b>
It is inspired by a quote from Ghandi, who said (paraphrasing here) that the real India was to be found not in its cities but in its 7,000 villages, the people about whom we never pause to wonder whether they have sufficient food, clothing, or shelter. So the idea for us is that, through this retail operation tens of thousands of such villages around the world are linked in community with North America.
<b>What have been the advantages and/or disadvantages of operating a business in Alexandria? </b>
One major advantage of operating a business in Alexandria is the large number of visitors we get here, and the variety of backgrounds they have. Many visitors are professional people
here on business, as well as families on vacation. DC draws
people from around the world, many with a sophisticated global
perspective. It's always a pleasure to talk with them about Fair
Trade in their home countries, as well as introduce the concept of
Fair Trade to our American shoppers who may not have heard of it, or don't know a lot about it. All of our staff and volunteers LOVE to
talk about Fair Trade!
Judy High and Rose Bierce
<b>Short bio: </b>
Judy High: born and raised in Michigan, husband is Foreign
Service Officer for the State Department and we have traveled and
lived abroad over several years. I started at the store as a volunteer in 2003. Because of my experiences abroad, I know what a difference an organization like Ten Thousand Villages can make in
Rose Bierce: born and raised in Arizona, been in this area since 1979. Spent several years working for a nonprofit ocean conservation group in DC and joined store staff in 2005. Like the conservation work, working at Ten Thousand Villages fills that deep need to be part of something bigger than oneself, something that's changing the world for the better.
<b>Key staff: </b>
<bc> In addition to the managers, our paid staff includes Kristy
Huettner, Danwé N. Dikwe (senior sales associates), and Laura Feeny, sales associate. Because Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit
organization, to keep costs low we rely heavily on volunteers, who do everything from serving customers in the store to opening shipments and setting out new items, to working on publicity and outreach, and serving on our Board of Directors.
<b>Description of services and/or products: </b>
Ten Thousand Villages works with artisans in 34 countries,
from Peru, Chile, and Haiti in the Americas to Cameroon, Kenya,
Uganda, the West Bank, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia to name just a few. All our items are handcrafted and certified Fair Trade, and they range from jewelry, scarves, and handbags to toys and puzzles for children, musical instruments; pillows, tablecloths, and other textiles, to fine ceramic plates and tea sets and garden pottery. We also carry an extensive selection of world music CDs, as well as Fair Trade coffee and chocolate.
<b>Professional affiliations/associations: </b>
Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association, Fair Trade
Federation (parent organization).
<b>What makes your business different from other retailers in town? </b>
All our items are Fair Trade Certified. We have artisans in 34 countries around the world. (The organization was started 60 years ago by the wife of a Mennonite missionary who was upset at the way lacemakers in Puerto Rico were treated by tourists bargaining buy the lace for as little as possible. She bought all their lace for the price they asked and started selling it out of her kitchen back home in the States.) The organization thus has always had the dignity of the artisan as its primary concern, and when looking for new
artisans, will seek out those who would otherwise be unemployed or unemployable, such as widows or the handicapped, with the goal of establishing lasting relationships (many of our artisan groups are now employing the 2nd and 3rd generations in the families.). As a non-profit organization, all the profit (after expenses) gets re-invested in the artisans. And because Ten Thousand Villages is a
non-profit organization, we can pay our artisans a living wage and still offer the products to our customers for a reasonable price. Our customers can be confident that their purchases are helping families in countries far away. They really are gifts that give twice.