Over the years we have met many powerful artisans and farmers in the global south whose traditional livelihoods and homelands have been negatively affected by the impacts of globalization, Free Trade economic policies, and massive consumerism. While these policies have increased the overall wealth of many Western nations, they have done so at the expense of the environment and the most vulnerable people on earth. In a race to the bottom, large corporations now rely on the exploitation of workers and even child slavery to cut costs and increase their profit. Fair wages, safe working conditions, and a healthy planet are to many of the worlds producers, virtually unknown.
Our founder, Sarah Mitts, first traveled to India in 2005 during college where she witnessed firsthand the prevalence of child slavery in export factories and the environmental degradation of modern production practices. She realized consumers in the West were unknowingly driving this exploitation through their everyday purchases by supporting companies who produced goods unethically.
While working outside of Dehradun in the foothills of the Himalayas, Sarah discovered a growing movement of grassroots initiatives that empowered workers through Fair Trade practices and democratic working environments. She witnessed how Fair Trade not only provided steady employment, humane working conditions, and respected the environment, but also had the power to allow women and marginalized communities to lift themselves out of poverty. Surrounded by India's rich craft traditions and inspired by the possibilities of a new trading model, Awaz Handcrafts was born.
Since then, we have grown not only as a small business but as advocates and educators for ethical economies. We are co-chairs of the Northwest Fair Trade Coalition which serves to build a greater network of Fair Trade in the Pacific Northwest, and collaborate regularly with congregations and social justice organizations to educate about Fair Trade alternatives and reform trade policy. We have met other like-minded social entrepreneurs including retailers, designers, and wholesalers who are involved in similar projects in Latin America, Africa and other parts of the globe. Combining our passions and expertise, the Awaz Handcrafts team now collaborates with millions of people around the world to be a voice for small producers and provide an ethical alternative for conscious consumerism.