Art Museum Store products focus on people, planet
While putting people and the planet first, Fair Trade vendors are offering uniquely beautiful handmade items from around the world at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art Museum Store.
Among them are Kazi baskets, which are handwoven from sisal, sweetgrass, raffia and banana fibers by skilled women weavers in remote regions of Rwanda and Uganda.
“Kazi in Swahili means employment, jobs, source of income. The Kazi brand empowers artisans to weave a better story for themselves by bringing artisans’ original handcrafted pieces to your home,” said Nicole Meuse, head of retail buying and operations for the store.
“We strive to support socially conscious and ethically responsible companies that empower people and communities. I have found that carrying ethically made items at the Museum Store is also important in our community of Santa Barbara as we get inquiries from guests often about how and where our products are made.”
Pomegranate Moon is inspired by the color and whimsy from crafts from the Nepali marketplace. The family-run company is dedicated to bringing quality handmade fashion accessories such as felted scarves of merino wool and recycled vintage sari scarves made of silk, chiffon or cotton to the U.S. while benefiting artisans in Nepal.
“Kelly Weinberger founded World Finds after a 14-month worldwide backpack trip in 1999 that took her to India and Nepal,” said Ms. Meuse. “The result is her dream of a business based on collaboration, great design, kindness, respect for humans and the environment and addressing the root causes of poverty — a lack of work. Its recycled kantha cloth jewelry and accessories create work for more than 700 artisans in vulnerable communities in India.”
Another vendor is Silk Road Bazaar, which provides sustainable livelihoods for craftspeople in marginalized regions in Kyrgyzstan.
“In 2012, they partnered with Kork Fiber Art Group, which offers Kyrgyzstan artists a place to promote their felt works, textiles and ceramics. This partnership provides artists employment and maintains the tradition of felting during times of severe poverty and economic depression,” Ms. Meuse told the News-Press.
“Purchasing Fair Trade also encourages environmentally friendly production methods and safeguards humane working conditions. Many of the companies we work with at the Museum Store have goals that empower women specifically and help reduce poverty in areas where unemployment rates are high. We will continue to seek out companies and products that help make a positive impact in communities and ultimately help empower people.”