Fair trade refers to the movement that helps artisans/producers in developing countries to make better working and trading conditions as well as promote sustainability. Organizations involved with the Fair Trade movement assist in obtaining better social and environmental conditions for these countries. An important focus deals with how exports move from the developing countries into developed countries.
By supporting Fair Trade, consumers are making small shifts in their buying habits that, in turn, make a big difference in the lives of the artisans/producers in developing countries. Consumer support provides better income and working conditions as well as better education and access to healthcare.
We are building relationships with several organizations that assist artisans/producers through Fair Trade. We would like to inform you about how these organizations are making a difference to others in developing countries. Each organization has a story explaining how and why they work so intently to keep the Fair Trade movement viable. Here’s at look at Altiplano, small company based in southern Vermont and Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. We are finding impeccable pieces of jewelry from their artisans in Guatemala. This is their story.
‘Working with many cooperative groups, small family businesses, and our own fair trade workshop, we are committed to creating innovative products that support indigenous communities and the environment. We are most grateful for our ability to make a difference, and to you, for supporting us in our ongoing effort to bring fair trade and employment to the Guatemalan Highlands.’
Twenty-five years ago John von Wodtke and Shari Zarin, both experienced travelers, foot loose and fancy free, set out on a 6-month journey through Central and South America. They began their trip in Guatemala, where they were thoroughly enchanted by the beautiful Mayan people, their rich traditions and rugged land. Their travels took them to many countries on that trip, but it was clearly Guatemala that stole their hearts.
Upon their return to the US, they almost immediately planned their next trip back, and hit the road once again, this time, to sell the crafts that they had bought on their journey. It took them less than a year to raise the funds to return to Guatemala. They did this a few times casually, before they fully realized the path that they were on.
Shari and John eventually began to design their own products and to live part of the year in Guatemala. They raised three children who call both the Green Mountains of Vermont and Lake Atitlan, Guatemala home. In their two diverse, small town homes, all three children have grown up with a strong sense of community and their responsibility to it.
Over the years, much has changed, but Shari and John’s appreciation for Guatemala and its people still shines strong. Altiplano has grown to support not only Shari and John's family, but also hundreds of families in both Guatemala and Vermont. The cornerstone of the business has always been the strong relationships that have been forged through time.
These days, the Altiplano collections are meticulously designed by Shari twice a year, responding to her own artistic direction and fashion trends. She finds passion in her creative expression, and in creating opportunity in Guatemala.
Shari is forever inspired by the wonderful people that she works with, and the many people across the globe working for peace. She is awed by the magnificence of nature and the power of love. Altiplano strives to reflect this universal expression of beauty.
All of Altiplano's products are handcrafted in the highlands (Altiplano) of Guatemala. Based on the beautiful shores of Lake Atitlan, beneath the towering volcanoes, Altiplano has been providing fair wage and employment for over 20 years.
The Altiplano collection passes through many hands before reaching you. Working with many of the same artisans since it's inception, the quality and design of Altiplano products reflect years of experience. Altiplano provides employment opportunities to cooperative groups, small family businesses and to women in their own fair trade workshop. In an effort to support traditional life, Altiplano offers women the opportunity to work at home, making them available for their children, and other domestic duties, while earning financial independence.Whether drawing from traditional techniques, or exploring new ones, owner/designer Shari Zarin is inspired by the skill and motivation of the many artisans that she works with. The Altiplano workplace represents mutual appreciation, dedication, and respect, and the many beautiful products that result.