Eco-Leather bags from India


There is something special about these Rich red-brown, with stamped tree logo, bags and a coin purse….they are naturally tanned eco-leather!

Eco-leather is crafted without using hazardous chemicals in the tanning process. Instead of azo dyes, formaldehyde and other substances, eco-leather is tanned using materials derived from sustainable tea bark extracts and waxes. This “vegetable tanning” was used in India in ancient times to tan leather. How cool is that?

Craft Resource Center (CRC Exports Private Limited), founded in 1989, helps informally organized artisan groups to develop self-sustaining businesses. CRC seeks to develop economic self-sufficiency for a vulnerable segment of society through traditional handcrafting skills. CRC provides marketing, design, finance and exporting assistance to a large number of artisan groups across India. CRC also provides raw materials, production coordination between groups and additional training. CRC considers artisans more important than products. This concern for artisans translates into a broader commitment to help others within the CRC network. Because of CRC’s coordination of craft production between different artisan groups, artisans have a high level of connectedness and cooperation. Artisan groups have been able to work together in partnership in times of need.


Autumn is upon us and Elephant Appreciation Day!


Join our “Autumn is upon us” event tomorrow, September 22, from 11am to 3pm. There will be yummy Raspberry Lemongrass ice tea, chocolate chip cookies, delicious dill dip (all from Women’s Bean Project!) and chips for you to taste!


What is Women’s Bean Project?

Mission: To change women’s lives by providing stepping-stones to self-sufficiency through social enterprise.

Vision: Women’s Bean Project strives to break the cycle of chronic unemployment and poverty by helping women discover their talents and develop skills by offering job readiness training opportunities.

With this stepping stone toward success, the women will be able to support themselves and their families, and create stronger role models for future generations.

Ten Thousand Villages supports Women’s Bean Project through purchasing their products. If you have never tried any of their products, you are missing some delicious treats for you!

We are also celebrating Elephant Appreciation Day tomorrow (did you know September 22 is Elephant Appreciation Day?). Please join our celebration and learn some interesting facts about elephants. We will prepare a fun game for children to play!

Don’t forget to check various kinds of elephant-themed fair trade items, including our favorite Mr. Ellie Pooh products – paper products made partially out of elephant poo!
Mr. Ellie Pooh LLC is an eco-friendly Fair Trade company making exotic gifts and paper made partially out of elephant poo! Elephants in Sri Lanka are being killed at an alarming rate.  Humans are encroaching on elephant habitats and cutting down trees.  When elephants come looking for food, they are shot and killed.

Their mission is to is to reduce some of the Human/Elephant conflict that is ongoing.  They plan to open handmade paper facilities in rural areas, train local villagers to make paper and hire artisans to embellish our goods so that this newly created industry can directly contribute to the local economy. Our hopes are that such an initiative will self educate the villagers into living, working and respecting the elephant.  Have them look at the elephants more as an asset instead of as a threat.

Any elephant-related items in the store will be 10% off! Only tomorrow!

Jacaranda Safari Chess Set


Let us introduce this magnificent hand-carved wood chess set made by artisans in Kenya!

Each chess piece is hand-carved from Jacaranda wood and is hand-painted. The board is also crafted from Jacaranda wood, inlaid with mahogany and it is hinged for folding. All wood is acquired from sustainable sources.

You will feel like you are playing chess in Safari!

In 1995, Claytone Ombasyi, a Christian businessman in Nairobi, Kenya, started OTIC, a privately held export and marketing company. Ombasyi, with professional experience in exporting and marketing, wanted to help local artisans connect with export markets. He operates his business with the utmost integrity and expects the same of others, encouraging artisans to consider their products a reflection of themselves and to use the products to share their vision with customers.

OTIC provides export, packaging and quality control support for a number of small workshops in and around Nairobi. Depending on their circumstances, these small groups provide a variety of advantages to their artisans. Some offer training in wood carving, while others provide short-term, no interest loans.

Ten Thousand Villages has purchased products from OTIC since 2001.Ten Thousand Villages purchases wire push toys, carved wooden animals, carved bone items, ceramic pots, pop-up animals, musical instruments and nativities from OTIC.


What’s everyone’s favorite?


What’s everyone’s favorite? It’s Jean’s turn! She chose this Leafy Embrace Fruit Bowl. You can use this beautiful bowl to hold your fruit or just to display alone.

The artisans who handcart metal products such as this product are the traditional brass workers of Moradabad, India and they are learning new metalwork techniques to create distinctive designs.

Ten Thousand Villages also carries jewelry from this artisan group, Noah’s Ark, which is a fair trade handicraft marketing organization in Moradabad, India. Most of the jewelry artisans are women, who benefit from the fact that they can work from home and maintain their responsibilities for children and household.

Noah’s Ark provides benefits such as education and medical treatment for artisans and their families. Noah’s Ark also works to empower artisans at the workshop level, and regularly provides low or no interest loans to help with infrastructure upgrades and other business needs. As artisan businesses become more self-sufficient, Noah’s Ark takes on new families. Since the company’s inception, about 20 artisan workshops have become independent. Recently, Noah’s Ark has also started a small school for artisans’ children who might otherwise have little opportunity for education.

Thank you for sharing your favorite item with us, Jean!


September New Items!


We have received a lot of new items, some of which are holiday items!

If you are thinking about starting an early holiday shopping, or even just to get some holiday gift ideas, please come check out our new items!!

A gradation of circles in burgundy, gold and tan. Center Circle Bracelets from Nepal are comfortable in hand-crocheted cotton.

Olive branch dove handcrafted in India shares a wish for peace. All cards produced by the artisan group Silence are both screen-printed and hand-painted. The outline border and some impressions are screen-printed, whereas finishing and remaining impressions are hand-painted. Silence continues with hand painting of some impressions because this not only increases artisan income, but helps to maintain their cultural heritage.

Soft wool felt, cute and cozy phone cases came in from Nepal! Felt refers to non-woven fabric formed when wool fibers lock together under heat, moisture and pressure. At ACP (Nepal’s Association for Craft Producers), some 60 women produce felt – all by hand, using hot water, soap and the pressure of their hands to bond the fibers. ACP has been at the forefront of reviving this traditional skill in Nepal. Felt making is an important folk tradition in Nepal, where people living in the mountainous regions traditionally made felt carpets.

Red-dressed reindeer are ready for the season! They are created by artisans of Chuma Wires workshop, based in the Dandora area of Nairobi, Kenya and the workshop provides valuable work for artisans who have few other opportunities for employment in this marginal section of Kenya’s sprawling capital.

A tiny nativity set from Colombia is carved from Tagua nuts. Each figure is produced from an individual nut, with carved Tagua pieces adding details. This nativity wonderfully displays the unique attributes of the Tagua nut, including the contrast between the dark outer skin and the milky white interior.

Also known as “vegetable ivory,” Tagua is produced by a palm-like tree in South America. The nuts fall to the ground when mature, thus harvesting does not damage the trees. Tagua nut’s grain is close and very hard, resembling the finest ivory. Artisans carve each nut individually into the desired form. Cultural tradition and forest preservation combine in the use of this renewable resource.

Lively angel is handcrafted from “spinning disks” of coiled recycled newsprint in variegated color. This product was handcrafted by artisans of the Women’s Multipurpose Cooperative in Baguio City, the Philippines. The women turn old newsprint into beautiful products by wrapping the paper into coils to make spiraled building blocks. These are joined with thread and glue, and starched for durability and finish.

A lot more items are waiting for you in the store!!

What’s everyone’s favorite?


We asked one of our volunteers, Kathleen, about her favorite items in the store and she chose this colorful cut metal piece, the World Children Wall Hanging!

She loves to see the children of the world join hands around a peaceful earth. Haitian artisans handcraft and paint this wall hanging from recycled 55 gallon metal drums!

The nonprofit CAH, Comité Artisanal Haitien or Haitian Committee of Artisans, markets and exports crafts made by Haitian artisans, cooperatives and craft groups. The artisans whose work CAH promotes have organized themselves in a variety of ways. Some are cooperative associations, some are family workshops and some are independent artisans; all depend on the efforts of CAH to market their handicrafts for a fair wage.

In 1999 CAH became part of the “Fondation pour le Developpement de l’Artisanat Haitien.” CAH provides marketing and promotional expertise, training in literacy and business skills for artisans, fair wages and advances on orders, and financial assistance in case of health emergencies. CAH artisans sell their work through local tourist sales and for export through the fair trade market.

CAH was founded in 1973 to help rural craftspeople sell their wares in Port-au-Prince, to provide income and to help reduce the flow of migration from the countryside to the city. Though rural to urban migration continues, CAH helps artisans earn a living from their skills. The economic situation in Haiti is bleak, and the need for income generation is great. CAH craft sales often are the sole income source for artisans and their families.

Ten Thousand Villages purchases cut metal mirrors, picture frames, sculptures and wall plaques, painted metal napkin rings and napkin holders, carved horn photo frames, carved river rock sculptures and baskets from CAH. Ten Thousand Villages has purchased products from CAH since 1978.

Thank you for sharing your favorite item with us, Kathleen!



It’s a rainy Monday in Tallahassee….


It’s a rainy Monday in Tallahassee….we hope everyone is having a good start of the week.

If you need something to cheer you up for the rest of the week (it is going to be a rainy week according to the local weather forecast), come meet our little friends from Vietnam!


These Thinking Frog and Planter Frog remind me of the two best friends from my favorite book series of “Frog and Toad”!!

Using traditional techniques at a small family workshop, artisans of Viet Lam create these ceramic frogs. For the Planter Frog, they put the clay into a mold, spreading it around the walls. After two hours of outdoor drying, the pot is taken out of the mold to finish drying. After applying the glaze, the artisans place the planter in the sun to dry the glaze, then fire it in a wood-fired kiln at over 800 degrees C for one day.

Viet Lam Company, established in 1993, is a private export company that markets ceramics and lacquerware along with bamboo, palm leaf and rattan baskets. The company contracts orders to several factories and cooperatives in and around Ho Chi Minh City. Viet Lam provides piece rate work, materials for production and payment for labor costs. Additional benefits include interest-free loans to artisans for repairing tools and machines, advances of 30 to 50 percent for orders, and assistance with development of new designs and products.