Velvet Elephant Fair Trade Emporium invites you to buy fair trade gifts and crafts and to dress smart by choosing organic cotton apparel and fair trade clothing
   

velvet elephant art center and fair trade emporium

Velvet Elephant Art Center & Fair Trade Emporium in Mt. Shasta, CA

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The Velvet Elephant Art Center & Fair Trade Emporium is one part art supply store, one part Fair Trade gift shop, and all parts education station in Mt. Shasta California 96067.

Since 1978, The Art Center has provided art supplies and inspiring gifts to the Mt. Shasta community and Siskiyou County. Today we continue this tradition of providing art and educational supplies for local and visiting customers including neighborhood schools from elementary through college, as well as fulfilling special orders for artists and non-artists alike. In addition to the already-existing array of art supplies, we continue to expand the inventory in response to customers' needs and requests. Please send us an e-mail if you're a local resident and think of something new you'd like to see offered in the store.

The Fair Trade Emporium offers a selection of fairly-traded handcrafted merchandise from around the world. This includes woodcarvings and small sculptures, clothing and accessories, hand-constructed musical instruments, toys, jewelry, housewares and much more. Fair Trade items are not only beautiful, high-quality and affordable, but they allow the conscious consumer to promote greater economic justice and dignity for artisans and producers in small communities worldwide. When you buy Fair Trade, you give others the opportunity to earn the real value of their labor while supporting community development and environmental sustainability. View some of our Fair Trade items by clicking here, and help yourself to the free or inexpensive educational materials in the store.

Fair Trade principles (according to the Fair Trade Federation http://www.fairtradefederation.org):

Paying fair wages in local context
Supporting participatory workplaces
Ensuring environmental sustainability
Supplying financial and technical support
Respecting cultural identity
Offering public accountability
Educating consumers


FAIR WAGES IN THE LOCAL CONTEXT
Producers receive fair compensation for their products, which means that workers are paid at least that country's minimum wage. Since the minimum wage is often not enough for basic survival, whenever feasible, workers are paid a living wage, which enables them to cover basic needs, such as food, shelter, education and health care for their families. Paying fair wages does not necessarily mean that products will cost the consumer more. Since fair trade organizations bypass exploitative middlemen and work directly with producers, they are able to reduce costs and return a greater percentage of the retail price to the producers.

PARTICIPATORY WORKPLACES
Fair trade organizations work primarily with small businesses, democratically-run associations, and/or cooperatives which bring significant benefits to workers and their communities. Cooperatives and producer associations provide a healthy alternative to large-scale manufacturing and sweatshops conditions, where unprotected workers earn below minimum wage and most of the profits flow to foreign investors and local elites who have little interest in ensuring the long term health of the communities in which they work. By banding together, workers are able to access credit, reduce raw material costs and establish more just prices for their products. Workers earn a greater return on their labor, and profits are distributed more equitably. Profits are also often reinvested in community projects, such as health clinics, child care, education and training. Workers practice important leadership and organizing skills, enabling self-reliant grassroots-driven development. Safe and healthy working conditions are maintained and producers gain greater control and decision making power over the use of their resources.

ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
Fair trade organizations engage in environmentally friendly practices which manage and use local resources sustainably. Many FTF members work directly with producers in regions of high biodiversity to develop products based on sustainable use of their natural resources, giving communities an incentive to preserve their natural environments for future generations.

FINANCIAL AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT
Small-scale farmers and artisans in the developing world lack access to affordable financing. FTF members that buy products directly from producers often provide financial assistance either through direct loans, prepayment or link producers with sources of financing. Unlike many commercial importers who often wait 60-90 days before paying producers, many FTF members supply prepayment so that producers have sufficient funds to cover raw materials and basic needs during production time. They also often provide other critical technical assistance and support such as market information, product feedback and training in financial management. Unlike commercial importers, FTOs establish long term relationships with their producers and help them adapt production for changing trends.

RESPECT FOR CULTURAL IDENTITY
Fair trade organizations encourage the production and development of products based on producers' cultural traditions, as adapted for Western markets. They seek to promote producers' artistic talents in a way that preserves cultural identity.

PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY
Fair Trade members' (FTF) finances, management policies, and business practices are open to the public and monitoring by the Fair Trade Federation.

Fair trade means an equitable and fair partnership between businesses and organizations in the developed world and producers in the developing world. Fair Trade businesses foster long-term and direct relationships with producers, because they know these connections are a highly effective way to help producers help themselves


CONSUMER EDUCATION
Fair trade organizations educate consumers about the importance of purchasing fairly traded products which support living wages and healthy working conditions. By defining fair trade and conducting business in a manner that respects workers' rights and the environment, the fair trade movement strives to educate consumers about the often hidden human costs of their "bargains." By providing information about producers' history, culture and living conditions, fair trade organizations enhance cross-cultural understanding and respect between consumers and communities in the developing world. They also educate consumers and policy makers about inequities in the global trading system.

 

Find out more by visiting the following online resources:

http://www.fairtradefederation.org

http://www.fairtraderesource.org

http://www.transfairusa.org

http://www.ifat.org

 

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