Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Montage: One Little World




Happy Monday, dear friends! We hope you don't mind the little holiday break we took these past couple of weeks, but again, thank you for all of your love and support. 2012 was a wonderful year for us, and we have high hopes that 2013 will be even better!


I'm so pleased to share the most wonderful etsy shop with you today. Jodie of One Little World, based in Dallas, Texas, has such a good heart, and she really pours her soul into what she does to help advance the fair trade movement. I was thrilled to have found her shop, and we emailed back and forth, asking questions and sharing answers. I love what she had to say, and I know you will too! She speaks so beautifully and passionately, I wanted to keep things in her words, so I'm posting both my questions and her answers for you today!

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Jodie, I'd love to hear more about you, to get to know you a bit. First, are you a coffee or tea drinker? How do you take your coffee/tea?

Tea, green.  I drink 3-5 cups every morning, throughout the morning, plain.  I enjoy the ceremony of tea.  It calms me down.



Please tell me just a bit about your background,
 ie, where you grew up, how that led to where you are now, family, etc.

I grew up in Virginia on a small farm, surrounded by nature. I am the oldest of three and I'm very close to my siblings and parents.  The place I grew is so pretty and peaceful, but in many respects, not diverse.  I became more aware of "differences" once I moved to Austin, simply because I was older and more interested in learning about the happenings that existed outside of my little world.  It wasn't until I took my first trip outside of the U.S., to Mexico, that I had a better understanding of what our world looked like and how others lived.  It opened my eyes to real poverty and need.  Although Mexico is alive with color, family, food and amazing artisan skill, that trip stayed in my mind for a long time.  

I suppose that experience was the moment that the one little world seed planted itself and the desire to help others in this "fair" way, truly began. 

Are you a dog person or cat person?

Meow.  Nine years ago "Nesta" walked up to our back patio dinner party in Austin, and she's ruled our life ever since!  But we dream of adopting a dog one day too.

What is your favorite book of all time, and why? Is there one book that you could read again and again? What is the last book that you read?

The last book I finished was "Half the Sky" by Nicholas Kristof and  Sheryl Wudunn.  It gave me an even deeper understanding and respect of what I thought I knew about the conditions in which women in the developing world, live with on a day-to-day basis.  The stories of these very women, taking a stand for justice, equality and care, despite the many obstacles that challenge them, are beyond incredible. 

I am currently reading "A School for my Village" by Twesigye Jackson  Kaguri.  It is the true story of a man who grew up in a small village in Uganda and was fortunate enough to receive an education, which eventually brought him to the United States for study.  When he returned to  Uganda years later and saw the great need that existed for children
orphaned by AIDS and the "mukaakas" (grandmothers) that now raise them, he was inspired to make a difference.  His story is beautiful.

The books I most often return to time and again are children's books.  My forever favorite is "Little Blue and Little Yellow" by Leo  Lionni.  It's the story of two colors that when they come together make a brand new color...it's such a sweet book and can teach so many lessons.    
  



What is your most prized possession?

My gorgeous niece, Naya.  Although she's not mine, having her in my life is the sweetest thing I've ever known and she’s what I value most in this world.



Do you speak any other languages? What would you learn next, given the opportunity?

I speak really good "Spanglish"...which is almost helpful when I visit my artisans in Ecuador.  But I would like to become a full and real speaker.  I would also love to learn Portuguese, my honey's language.  And I’d like to master social media for the sake of One LittleWorld.  This includes a one little world blog (the name of my soon-to-be blog is; love speaks the world), twitter account (@onelittleworld_) and eventually, our very own website (onelittleworld.org)…so stay tuned!
You said you're a teacher...what do you teach, how long have you been teaching, did you always know that you wanted to teach?

I’ve been educating in so many different and unique capacities for close to ten years now.  I've worked in schools in both Mexico and Ecuador, tutored children to adults in English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) and other subjects, I’ve taught 1st and 4th grade in a Title I public school, worked within a Montessori classroom, taught as a home-school teacher, ages 3-14, and I currently work within a private school as academic and teacher support in 3rd and 4th grade classrooms! 

I did not always know that I wanted to teach.  Initially I started my professional life in non-profit and realized soon after that I really enjoyed being part of something that allowed me to teach and inspire, love, acceptance and value for others in our world.  Kids are naturally open and excited, which makes it really easy to guide them to learn about such things.   

Do you collect anything?

I
collect two things from nature; love rocks (rocks shaped like hearts) and peace branches (little tree branches that naturally make the peace sign...they're everywhere).  I also love pretty dishes, non-electric juicers and aprons.  My honey, Adriano, is crazy about orchids, and our home is full of them, so I guess I am a part-collector of these gorgeous plants, too.  



Do you have any other hobbies? 

I like to cook from scratch, using fresh ingredients (no thank you to baking, though).   I've recently found my way back to yoga, which is so helpful in re-finding calm in my day.   I like to take walks.  And I really love to clean.  I don't know why, but it makes me so happy!    
 
Do you have any role models/inspirations? 

I am inspired by people.  Amazing things happen every single day in our world because people care.  I've learned that the big things do make a difference, but it's the tiny things that matter even more.  There is so much goodness in our world...kindness, compassion and love, and people really want to be part of this.  Whether it's on the giving or receiving end, people inspire people. 



You mentioned that you love to travel...where have you been, where do you want to go next?

I’ve traveled Europe, Asia (Nepal, China, Bali), throughout Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, South Africa), South America (Brasil, Ecuador), Mexico, the Caribbean.  My honey and I had planned to visit Australia and New Zealand last summer, but decided instead to begin our adoption!  This year we are headed back to Brasil for spring break to visit Adriano's family and this summer I have one little world business trips planned to both Ecuador and Nepal (seeking out more artisan partnerships with a little trip to India too, since I'm over that way).  But the most anticipated and desired trip of 2013, is the hopeful one to Uganda, to meet, know and bring home our sweet baby (and of course while there, create some fair-trade partnerships too).
You also mentioned that you're in the process of adopting!
Is that something you've always wanted to do? 

We began our process on February 24, 2012.  The idea of adoption always made sense to both Adriano and I as individuals, so coming together as a couple made it even more of a desire.  Visiting Africa in 2010, we fell in love with "everything Africa", and after learning of the needs within Uganda, we fell even deeper.  At this very moment we are "waiting" to be matched to our somewhere-out-there little Ugandan.  Waiting really is the hardest part but I know once it happens, every wish and dream I've ever had about our babe, will be even more wonderful than I imagined it to be.   


How did you become involved in the fair trade movement?

What led you here and what does it mean to you?



When traveling to markets in different cities around the world, I was bothered with the expectation that visitors/customers/tourists should "talk down" the price set by the seller/artisan.  Of course, this is sometimes appropriate, but when an artisan is trying to feed and dress their family, send their children to school (a free, public education is often not available in many parts of the world), and live a modest to comfortable life, it is not appropriate.  It takes skilled artisans hours, sometimes days, to create a single item and almost always there are additional material costs involved in creating that single item.  The thought is disheartening that these handmade goods aren't considered something of value and worth the set price.  After seeing this many times and being uncomfortable, I had the idea to bring products here to the U.S., to sell for the artisans.

It is a life-changing gift for me to be part of the relationships created with my artisans, because I know that One Little World is directly helping these parents (artisans) give their children a brighter future full of possibilities.
  My artisans and their families are beyond grateful.  It means everything to them!  But then I reflect on how loved I am...I have my artisans, all around the world, praying, dedicating, celebrating, honoring, keeping ceremonies and wishing for me and one little world's well-being, every single day. 

I am blessed. 



How do you find the artisans that you work with?


 I love all things of unique beauty and color and am always searching for such items in my travels...but more than that, I seek out artisans in need of opportunity. Once I find a product I like, the first question I ask the artisan is, "did you make the product?" Sometimes they are honest, sometimes not and if I discover a true "yes", I then ask if I can visit their workshop (which is almost always their home), to see the product being made. This ensures that the product is in fact made by the artisan and a "middle-person" is not involved, taking advantage of the artist or the situation. After seeing the workshop, I begin the one little world, handmade, fair-trade conversation, explaining the purpose of my business and inviting that artist into a one little world partnership. 

Almost always, at this point, I meet the companion and children of my artisan, which is my favorite part! Together we discuss, in whichever broken language I am trying to speak, a "fair" price/wage, I then buy an inventory of product upfront, and place additional orders once the product begins to sell. During the initial first months the artisan and I work together on product quality and further product development. If a product were to not sell, the artist and I would continue to develop until we got it right. Once I create a partnership with my artisan, I will not break it, which is a real fear with all my artisans.    

   

Which items in your shop are your favorites, if any?
Are there any items that you are especially fond of? 


I really love all of my products.  But the story I love most so far is the one that comes with one little world's llama and alpaca wraps.  The loom which Alonso uses to weave the wraps has been in his family for three generations.  He cares for his loom like one would a child because he knows this loom is his means to providing for his family.  And his heart is so pure and good, it makes it even sweeter to be part of his life in this way.






I can't decide who I love more...this fair trade felted crocodile or this hippo! Both made in Kenya, just like the rest of their felted friends!








Four strands of knotted hemp twine, interlaced with natural and naturally dyed multi-colored acai and pambil seeds, come together to make this full and stunning necklace.  All seeds are sustainably gathered by local natives in the amazonia region of ecuador.  No trees are harmed in the harvesting of these seeds.  


handmade in Ecuador by Juan, using fallen tree branches and natural coloring.  each branch used was found in its natural, fallen state. some branches/crayons have peeling bark, with each looking uniquely imperfect.





Tell me about the new co-op in Nepal!

I have a very good friend who is from Nepal and I began to learn of her beautiful country by listening to her stories. I decided to visit in 2008 and have since became really close to her mom ("Bhumi"), who is helping one little world create a women's co-op in Kathmandu. Nepal is one of the most resource-poor countries in our world where many women struggle daily to be seen as a valued part of society...but it is also a country of beautiful, bright color and amazing skill. 

Together, Bhumi and I developed a sweet product; wool ear wraps (currently sold out online), with the idea that we would gather women in need of an opportunity and teach them how to knit these "wraps". We are beginning small, having identified only four women, and are in the process now of building our idea, together as a group. We are discussing other product concepts too, based on materials local to the women in their homes and communities and we hope to soon grow our project, inviting more women to join. A goal for my summer visit is to set up a "learning hour" every day, bringing in a teacher daily to help each woman learn to read and write. 

One Little World wants to provide a means to help support all families, but even more so, to empower our artisans with confidence, pride and self-love, which will allow for them to do so much more for their families, communities, countries and our world!





How do you see the future of the fair trade movement and what do you hope for it?

When I speak of fair-trade, people become interested and excited! Most everyone wants to be part of purchasing a (fair-trade) product when they know the personal story behind it, so I want to dedicate more of my time telling the artisan's stories and educating others on fair-trade practices and why they're of value. Humans are very kind by nature, and when we know a simple purchase can make a meaningful impact in the life of someone else, we step-up and take part! I am hopeful that we continue to learn of our world and one another and evolve our societies into ones that cultivate even more tolerance and compassion, letting go of the "boundaries" and differences that keep us apart. I am hopeful that people within developed countries who have the means and ability, bring a fair-trade understanding and participation into their conversations, habits (spending), and daily lives, because I promise it matters to someone-out-there, half-a-world away!

 

Wow. I have to say, I am blown away by Jodie and the things she's done and hopes to do! She's an inspiration, really. I'm so glad to have found her, and hope that she will allow me to call her a friend one day! She has such a good heart, and is just the kind of person that the fair trade movement needs.


Jodie has just created a twitter account for One Little World, so please go and follow her, and encourage her to tweet her beautiful shop!


Find her at on twitter at @onelittleworld_


Jodie has also kindly offered a 20% discount in her shop to Scarlet Threads readers. Use the code LOVEFAIRTRADE for a discount in her shop.  


I hope that you will all stop by One Little World and see what Jodie has to offer! There are so many lovely things to see, and there are always new items popping up, so check back often!


Jodie, thank you so much for "speaking" with me, it was such a pleasure getting to know you this week! We will be checking back in, to see how things are progressing with your shop, your adoption and all in between!


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Final question: what do you think of this "interview" format of today's Monday Montage? Something to do again, or do you like our motre traditional format better?


2 comments:

  1. oh lexi, thank you!! for finding one little world and wondering about us.

    as a (new) subscriber and reader to scarlet threads, i love this monday montage and look forward to learning more about what people and businesses are doing to help develop the fair-trade market.

    thanks again lexi!!

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  2. love it! I think this is a beautiful example of how the world SHOULD work! When we all can focus more on how important it is to help others in need - what an incredible world that will be. A very inspiring interview indeed! Thank you.

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