Every Tuesday, we like to shine a light on some of the businesses, vendors, and organizations promoting the fair trade business model, wherein artisans from around the world are empowered and fairly compensated for the beautiful work they do. This week, we’re putting the spotlight on World Finds, whose gorgeous line of Kantha jewelry (made from beads wrapped in the discarded fabric used for the Kantha quilts that are a staple throughout India) is a favorite among our shoppers. The company also established the Girls Education Fund, which provides tuition fees, school uniforms, transportation, books and other supplies to the marginalized families in artisan communities. We touched base with the company’s founder, Kelly Weinberger, to find out how she got started in the fair trade business, what’s next for the business and why fair trade is the right line of work for her.
1. Tell us about how you got started making this product. (Did you have a background in crafts/jewelry, any previous interest in this field, etc.)
I had taken a year off to travel and learned about fair trade from a friend in Nepal. A huge light bulb went off. I knew that was what I wanted to do. My previous work had been in marketing at a publisher, so I had experience in a lot of areas that proved really helpful when I started out. And I have always been obsessed with jewelry and accessories, so that was also a good fit.
2. What was your big break? Was there a moment when you felt the tide turn your way and you suspected you might make it after all?
Most of our growth has been through retailers we’ve met at trade shows, but that “make it” moment for me happened after visiting a fabulous clothing boutique in Evanston. The owner placed a really big order. I remember thinking, “Wow! A few more great customers like this and we’re a viable business!”
3. What do you enjoy about your work? Why is this the perfect career for you?
Working with our artisans is such a huge part of the business for me, and that’s truly why we do what we do. But I also love creating, and seeing anything—like our designs or marketing materials—go from idea to concept to an actual finished product is really exciting. The growth of the artisan communities is also something amazing to witness, so many positive changes have happened over the years because of the fair trade work going to them.
4. What kind of relationship do you have with your retailers? How has that strengthened your business model?
We absolutely love our retailers; we consider them our partners in all we do. We really respect what they do, and rely on their feedback in so many areas, which products are working best, ideas or concepts for new designs, or what they are looking for to help tell artisan stories.
5. What's next for you? Any future plans for World Finds? Where do you hope to take things next?
We hope to continue to grow our collections and partnerships so we can help as many additional artisans as possible! We also look forward to increasing our product lines in the jewelry, accessories and gift areas, and possibly do a capsule collection of ethical clothing one day as well.
Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating love, and what could be a more appropriate representation of love than a heart, especially one that sings?