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March 08, 2012 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, March 8, 2012 - 3B

A storefront of fair-trade culture in A2

Ten Thousand
Villages stocks
artisan handicrafts
DailyArts Writer
Nestled between fine eateries
and other distinctive boutiques,
Ten Thousand Villages is a fair-
trade retailer that sells artisan-
crafted home decor, personal
accessories and gift items from
across the globe. Featuring prod-
ucts from more than 130 artisan
groups in some 38 countries, the
Main Street store is part of a net-
work of over 390 retail outlets
throughout the United States
selling fairly-traded products.
Ten Thousand Villages, which
stems from a project birthed in
the basements of churches, has a
title that doesn't always resonate
at first encounter. But if one has
any background knowledge about
fair trade, Ten Thousand Vil-
lages, the oldest fair trade retailer
in North America, may inspire a
compelling visit.
Fair trade is an organized social
movement and market-based
technique that aims to help pro-
ducers in developing countries
create better trading conditions
and promote sustainability, advo-
cating the payment of a higher
price to exporters as well as the
establishment of higher social
and environmental standards.
* Most notable fairly-traded items
found in the United States are
handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar,
tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine,
fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers and
Now in its 66th year, the com-
pany still attempts to uphold
these values. In 1946, while trav-
eling in Puerto Rico, Mennonite
Missionaries encountered women
weaving elaborate table linens
and inquired about where they
could be bought and sold. They
returned to eastern Pennsylvania

with these treasures in hand, and
friends of the missionaries were
captivated and wanted to place
their orders for the next visit.
These missionaries later founded
the first Ten Thousand Villages
location in Bluffton, Ohio.
"At that moment, a light bulb
went (on)," said Bill Henderson,
the Main Street store manager.
"These people could become a
direct conduit from artisan to
consumer and cut out the mid-
dleman, allowing the artisan to
make more money for the delicate
work they put in."
Ten Thousand Villages has
cultivated trading relationships
in which artisans receive a fair
price for their work and con-
sumers gain access to distinctive
handcrafted items. Seeking to
establish long-term buying rela-
tionships in places where skilled
artisans who are under- or unem-
ployed lack other opportunities
for income, their network helps
struggling artisan groups who
are in need of assistance.
In Cambodia, for example,
people are shunned for their
imperfections, even those result-
ing from being maimed by land
mines or other such types of
devices. Artisans who belong to
this maligned group compose
jewelry and accessories out of the
bombshells and materials that
brought about their disfiguration.
Other artisan groups, such as
those in India, consist of women
rescued from human traffick-
ing who make recycled saris as
an outlet to help them cope with
their trauma.
Despite this solemn back-
ground to certain kinds of fairly-
traded items, when a customer
enters the Ten Thousand Villages
in Ann Arbor, the background
music and clamor of customers
evoke worldly vibes of serenity,
and the message is digested: "Our
mission is to promote dignity,
hope and a living wage for arti-
sans around the world by selling
their handicrafts, by telling their

stories and by educating locally
about Fair Trade," reads the com-
pany's mission statement.
Henderson explained that the
aim is not to bombard the cli-
ent with fair trade information,
but instead to whet their appe-
tite with the sounds and colors
that greet them. The direction is
to educate the community about
what it means to sell fairly-traded
products, but it is important that
the customer seeks this education
out first.
"We like to combine the
process of selling and telling,
connecting stories with the prod-
ucts," Henderson said.
In that vein, goods found
throughout the venue have expla-
nations above them stating mes-
sages such as "fair trade means
Guillermina Salome and Eulogio
Medina can share their cultural
Wind-chime mobiles from
Cambodia prove a popular seller,
utilizing only wood scraps so
that no livingtrees are harmed in
their composition. Pieced togeth-
er through recycling, flowerpots
are sculpted using pre-consumer
waste of candy-wrapper excess
from factory floors.
Henderson's favorite gift idea
involves recycled paper place-
mats used to satisfy the tradi-
tional first-anniversary gift of
"paper," once again telling and
selling more than one story.
Thoughstudents are not alarge
part of the foottraffic through the
store, Ten Thousand Villages has
participated in fair trade fashion
shows on the Diag and has associ-
ated with the ethnic restaurants
during Taste of Ann Arbor.
The Ann Arbor location, enter-
ing its eighth year of residency
this fall, was developed by local
individuals who wanted to help
support the fair trade movement
and began to raise money through
festival sales and various startup
committees. Other Ten Thou-
sand Villages locations across the
country supported the hunt for

a retail space by donating money
until the location could stand on
its own. The Ann Arbor shop does
the same for burgeoninglocations,
and it donates to other non-profit
retailers throughout the city.
Henderson began as a volun-
teer, as most employees do, but
decided to put his extensive retail
background to use, attaining
the position of event coordina-
tor. This allowed him to educate
the community about fair trade,
before rising to his current mana-
gerial status.
"The important thing is to
find something you're passionate
about and turn that passion into
an opportunity," Henderson said.
Deeply rooted interests in
crafting are not necessary in
order to find meaning in this
business. Before joining Ten
Thousand Villages, Henderson
attended workshops about trans-
forming one's interests into busi-
ness opportunities. Starting a
new business can be a daunting
task, but with his love of retail,
Henderson essentially became a
business coach, helping develop-
ing countries turn their lifestyles
into a source of income.
The items on sale at Ten Thou-

sand Villages demonstrates how
crafting can reflect the culture,
tradition and history of a place,
existent long after the culture
has undergone contemporary
transformations. Though it gives
expression to imagination and
creativity, the art of crafting may
appear to be fading away because
it entails a painstaking amount
of handiwork and devotion -
however, new media affirms that
handcrafting is growing in popu-
Websites like Etsy.com attempt
to empower people to change the
way the global economy works,
building relationships in a vir-
tual handmade marketplace that
reconnects producers with con-
sumers. Attempting to take the
antiquated aspect out of crafting,
Etsy recognizes that people value
authorship and provenance as
much as price and convenience,
thereby "bringing heart to com-
merce and making the world
more fair, more sustainable and
more fun," according to the Etsy.
com website.
"It's all new to me, but it seems
like (Etsy shares) a common goal
- we both want to connect buyers
with sellers, but we also hope to

improve that seller's standard of
living," Henderson said.
Social media and the Internet
succeed in spreading awareness
about the products that Ten Thou-
sand Villages houses, but Hender-
son remains firm that the physical
stores aren'tgoing anywhere. Peo-
ple want to touch, feel and look at
the product, so he only keeps two
of everything, presenting the cus-
tomer with a personal choice: "It's
all handmade, so whichone doyou
want?" Henderson said.
Art fairs and other exhibitors
will often seek involvement with
the store, but they must be certi-
fied fair trade. Fair trade in the
North American marketplace is
still small, however, so there is
a window for further education.
Ten Thousand Villages' next
project aims to organize a coali-
tion with the Ann Arbor City
Council, proposing to declare
Ann Arbor asa fair trade city. Not
onlywill thisbringTen Thousand
Villages to the forefront of the
leading fair trade retailers, but it
will also raise awareness of what
- in addition to the artwork it
houses - is currently available in
the community that is also fairly

Congratulations to the Winter 2012 University of Michigan
Student Startup Grant Recipients
$27,000 in total grants awarded winter term
The Zell Lurie Institute's Mayleben Family Venture Shaping and Applebaum Dare to Dream Grant program funds students looking to test their
business idea, formulate a plan, and work toward launching their business while earning their degree. Grants are awarded in the fall and
winter terms.

Applebaum Dare to Dream
Integration Grants of up to $10,000
@Fingertips ($10,000 and SPARK Boot Camp
Scholarship) - designing and building devices that
enable the blind to use mainstream touchscreen
portable computers and smartphones. PK Mishra
(MBA '12), Siyang Chen (MFA '13), Roger Potter
(BSE ME '12), Nick Wilcox
The Beet Box ($5,000) - providing healthy fast-
food options that support and reward a healthy life-
style. Daniel Morse (BBA '13), Alexander Perlman
(BA '13), Kay Feker (BA '13), Kendra Hall (BA '13),
Peter Hans Ward (BA '13)
Digital Maxim ($2,500) - Providing regional books
in eBook format for all popular eReader devices to
serve the needs of immigrant populations living in
developed countries. Thirumurthi Ranganathan
(MBA '13), Sriram Ramanathan (MBA '13), Devip-
rasad Taluk (MBA '13), Ramalingam Subramani-
yam, Manushyaputhiran
Applebaum Dare to Dream
Assessment Grants of $1,500
EVStation - investigating the feasibility of a busi-
ness delivering a platform for electric vehicle charg-
ing station access. Javier Rivera (MBA/MS '14),
Lawrence Han (MBA/MA '14)

Thrively - investigating the feasibility of a business
establishing online platform for professionals to
share feedback. Nick Fassler (MBA/MS '12), Emily
Luke (MSI '12), Emily Bowman (MSI '12), Raina
Rahbar (MBA/MS '12)
Torch Hybrid Marine Systems - investigating the
feasibility of a business based on hybrid-electric
marine propulsion systems. Matthew Lankowski
(MSE NAME, MEng Mfg '12), Michael Daeffler (MSE
NAME, MSE ME '12), Justin D'Atri (MS Sustainable
Systems '13), Siddharth Menon (MSE Energy
Systems Eng '13), Matthew Sexton (MSE NAME,
MSE ME '12)
Mayleben Family Venture Shaping
Grants of $500
AudioCode - addressing an opportunity utilizing
smartphone technology. Joe Dertouzos (MBA '12)
AutoEat - addressing a pain in the restaurant in-
dustry. Maya Ben An (MBA '13), Dan Itsara (MBA
DrankBank.com - addressing the issue of connect-
ing campus area businesses to student populations.
Jordan Eckstein (BBA '12), Ian Sabbag, Brian

Footnotes - addressing an opportunity to improve
the impact of events among attendees. Mitch Adler
(BSE CSE '12), Seth Samuels (BBA '13), Krunal
Google but Vocal - addressing the issue of con-
necting rural Indian populations to information.
Rachna Shukla (MBA '13)
Ritmosim - investigating opportunity to develop
novel solution to spinal orthoses. Jorge Sanz-Guer-
rero (MME '11), Dan Johnson (PhD MechE '12),
Maren Bean (MBA '13), Sam Beckett (BS MechE
'12), Pat Milligan (BS Materials Science Eng '14),
Rikav Chauhan (BS Neuroscience '14)
Shutterhub - addressing a pain in the consumer
photography market. JeffBargmann (MBA '13)
StudentKit - addressing a need for targeted com-
munication among university student populations.
Daniel Hoffman (BA Political Science '14), Harrison
Forman (BA Sports Mgmt '14), Zach Mandell (BSE
IOE '15)
YourCall - addressing a pain in the sports enter-
tainment industry. Josh Smith (MBA/MSI '13),
Andrew Smith (MBA '12)
YouTrivia - investigating novel approach o online
marketing. Ricardo Rodriguez-Laureno (MSE CSE
'11), Shamik Ganguly (MSE CSE '12)



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