Globalfest Latin America

13 Oct

When: Friday, October 28th 6-9:30
Location: 1852 W. 19th Street, (Chicago CTA Pink Line Damen Stop)
Emcee: Tsi-Tsi-Ki Felix, lead news anchor of Telemundo Chicago


Globalfest Latin America

Globalfest is a celebration of the growing consumer support for products that guarantee social benefits to workers and the environment. So, mark your calendar and join the celebration at the Chicago Fair Trade’s annual gala to celebrate the growing consumer support for products that guarantee social benefits to workers and the environment. It will feature stories of Latin American producers of fair trade coffee, wine, chocolate, fashions and jewelry.

Entry includes appetizers, fair trade wine and sparkling juices and access to Day of the Dead exhibit from 5:30- 7:30pm.

Tickets: $50 advance, ($60 door) can be purchased at, for more info call 312-212-1760 or email

See you at Globalfest!  CLICK HERE to buy your own ticket now!


Fair Trade Artisan Spotlight: Ganesh Himal Trading

9 Oct
Ganesh Himal Trading - Fair Trade From Nepal Since 1984

Ganesh Himal Trading - Fair Trade From Nepal Since 1984

Ganesh Himal Trading has been working with producer groups in Nepal since 1984. By assisting in product development, purchasing and importing these artisans’ products, this organization has created mutually beneficial, long-term partnerships with low income, refugee and fair trade artisan groups in Nepal. The principles of fair trade are central to Ganesh Himal Trading’s philosophy and the way they do business.

Since 1984, Ganesh Himal Trading has supplied shops and retail customers in North America with high quality, handcrafted clothing, jewelry, textiles, and paper. Ganesh Himal Trading imports directly from small cottage industries in Nepal, including development projects working to improve the lives of Tibetan refugees and women. Also, Ganesh Himal Trading has worked with many of their producer groups for over 20 years.

Ganesh Himal Trading’s mission has always been to support work that enhances people’s lives and traditions. Ganesh Himal Trading works directly with the producers as a team, expanding each other’s talents and ideas and believes that it is rewarding to work with such skilled artisans who enjoy what they do and to know that they realize a fair return for their work.

At The Fair Trader, we are committed to bringing you beautiful goods that have been created under the principles of the Fair Trade movement. Every hand-crafted item that we carry reflects the artisan’s pride and passion for art and for the Fair Trade concept. We think that the stories of our artisans and the groups they work with are some of our most important messages. We want you to know these wonderful craftspeople as well, so we offer these pages as a way to share their stories and vision with you.

Learn more about The Fair Trader’s many different and talented artisan partners in our Artisan section of our website here: 

Women Work for Peace

8 Oct

Written by Cindy Pardo, co-owner of The Fair Trade, and Chicago Fair Trade business member

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia, Leemah Gwobee, Liberian activist, and Tawakul Karman, Yemeni activist, have won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. These remarkable women are notable examples of something we see every day in the Fair Trade movement. Women make up 75% of participants in Fair Trade, and considering the overwhelming number of women who live in poverty throughout the world, most of whom have children, that isn’t a surprising statistic.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia, Leemah Gwobee, Liberian activist, and Tawakul Karman, Yemeni activist

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman of Yemen

Women tend to do things differently when a problem presents itself. Mangari Waanthai, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2004, worked tirelessly to help people in her native Kenya by planting trees! Understanding that a healthy environment contributes to the welfare of people everywhere, she is credited with helping to plant more than 20 million trees in Kenya, which helped stabilize the environment and the economy. The three women honored by the Nobel Committee this year have used politics to significantly change their countries and the status of women.

Fair Trade is a strong instrument for improving the lives of women in the world. We three (women) owners of The Fair Trader salute the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winners. We try every day to keep up our end of this work.


13 Sep

The Fair Trader will celebrate our 4th Anniversary on September 17!  What an amazing journey this has been.  When we signed the lease for our space in July of 2007, we could never have imagined the challenges we would face and the rewards we would reap from our “what if” moment.  We are so grateful for our loyal customers!

We began this venture in a nine-room dentist’s office.  That’s what was in our space before the transformation to a retail space (thanks to my talented and patient husband, Richard).  A month after we signed the lease, the building management began tuck-pointing work that required scaffolding outside.  Unfortunately, due to a variety of problems typical of old buildings, that scaffolding stayed up for two years!  Not a good way to begin a storefront business that depended on visibility!

And, there was the economy!  Who knew it would tank in 2008?  It certainly affected our suppliers, and, of course, it affected our customers.  We instituted layaway, something we remembered from our childhoods, and that has made it possible for some folks to purchase some really special items that they would have had to walk away from otherwise.

Aside from the wonderful friends we have gained from these four years, probably one of the most exciting gifts we have received has been to watch so many of our Fair Trade supplier groups mature.  Certainly, there are some who have been around for years (the movement, after all, is about 60 years old).  But, when we see the very hip, contemporary styles that we can bring to our store, we are just delighted!  The young people who are now enthusiastic participants in this ethical marketplace are bringing great style to everything they do, and are working with the artisans they represent to combine craft tradition with cutting edge style.

Dress By Global Mamas A story about that (and, a picture):  One of our good friends has two daughters who are in their late 20s, fabulous women with a real sense of style.  A few weeks ago Kedda, who lives in New York, purchased one of our Global Mamas dresses when she was in Chicago.  Her mother reports that Kedda was wearing that dress when she went to visit a friend, who happens to be an editor of “In Style” magazine – and the friend asked to borrow the dress to wear to FASHION WEEK!  Just WOW!  Take a look at the very fashionable Kedda in her dress (the hat is hers!).

This has been an amazing four years – and we’re ready for more!  Hope to see you during our birthday month to help us celebrate.  As a special birthday thank you, we are getting a new supply of great jewelry in and will offer a 25% discount on all our jewelry for the week, beginning on Saturday, the 17th (our actual birthday) and running through the following Saturday, Sept. 24th.

Thanks for your loyalty and for shopping Fair Trade.

The Fair Trader, Hyde Park, Chicago, IL

16 Aug

Written by Cindy Pardo, co-owner of The Fair Trade, and Chicago Fair Trade business member

So, why would three women, nearing (or past) retirement age, decide to jump into the world of retail, instead of sitting back and collecting their Social Security checks?  And whatever would possess them to start a retail store that featured only Fair Trade merchandise?

Evelyn Johnson, Madeiria Myrieckes and yours truly, Cindy Pardo, didn’t start The Fair Trader because we had a dream of someday owning a Fair Trade retail store.  We knew about Fair Trade because we sold coffee and tea in our Unitarian church.  We also had an annual holiday fair and, after a couple of years of positive response from our neighbors, realized that there was a real hunger for ethical shopping in Hyde Park, where we live.  What started as a “what if” moment became reality nine months later when, after extensive rehab of a storefront space by my multi-talented husband, we opened our doors in September of 2007.

The Fair Trader, Chicago, Fair Trade Retailer

Many of our customers know what Fair Trade is, and are happy to be able to shop in a place that is in line with their personal philosophies.  Customers who don’t know what Fair Trade is about, or only have a vague idea, usually think it is a good idea, once we do a little educating.  We give a lot of personal service (package wrapping, special ordering, calling customers when a new item they would be interested in arrives), and try to make our store reflect the Fair Trade ethos.

Retail in these economic times is hard.  We are constantly walking a line between purchasing new items that will please our customers and making sure we can pay the suppliers who have already paid the artisans they work with.  We have enormous respect for the people who work with the Fair Trade cooperatives around the world.  They deal with designing new products, making sure size and quality standards are in place, paying groups up front for half of the value of orders, fostering artisan understanding of business practices and environmental concerns, and getting items shipped and through customs.   And, then, they have to do the marketing to their retail customers,  Set up websites that retailers can order from, make sure shipments get out in a timely fashion, and answer all those special requests we send their way.  Whew!

For us, The Fair Trader is a reflection of who we are and what we believe in.  We think that treating people with respect is the only way to do business.  We love the interaction with our suppliers and our customers.  And, we honestly believe that Fair Trade is a viable way for everyone to do business.