Giving Female Artisans Support with Global Goods Partners’ Kelly Jackson

November 22, 2013

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good, and we’re so excited to have with us today Kelly Jackson. She’s the Sales and Marketing Coordinator for GlobalGoodsPartners.org. Welcome to Green is Good. KELLY JACKSON: Thank you. Thank you. So excited to be on today and to be chatting about Global Goods Partners. JOHN SHEGERIAN: This is the first time Global Goods is on the show, and we’re so excited for you to talk about it and tell your great story but before we get to Global Goods Partners, talk a little bit about Kelly Jackson. Talk a little bit about your journey. How did you end up here? Why are you here? And share a little bit about your journey first. KELLY JACKSON: Yeah! You know, I’m here now but it is definitely not the path I set out on. I graduated from college in 2007 thinking I was going to go into the sciences field. Imagine that. After I graduated though, I took a six-month trip to southeast Asia and did some volunteering and traveling and then I just fell in love with exploring the world so the next five years, I actually kind of did this cyclical dance of working for six months and then traveling for six months and during that time, I really got to see the impact that income generation projects and these marginalized communities around the globe, how much of an impact that could make and after seeing that first hand, I knew I really wanted to figure out a way to give back to these communities that I had traveled in and I found Global Goods Partners who is doing exactly that, providing hand made products and the money goes back to these communities so it’s really a perfect fit for me. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I love it, and I’m so glad you’re on and for our listeners out there that want to follow along as we’re doing this little fun chat with Kelly, please go to www.globalgoodspartners.org. I’m on the site now. It’s a gorgeous site. Frame it a little bit, Kelly. What does Global Goods Partners do? Explain to our listeners please. KELLY JACKSON: Yeah. Mmhmm. We are a fair-trade nonprofit organization and at this point, we work with over 30 women-led artisan groups in 20 countries to curate our online marketplace and it’s a place for consumers who want to shop for gifts that give back and I think that Global Goods is unique in that not only are our partners making gorgeous handmade products, but every one of our partners has a very strong community development aspect to their work so it may be adult literacy courses or girls’ education or health care initiatives so I just think it’s amazing that when you shop with Global Goods Partners, not only are you providing income for women and their families but you’re also supporting these really important initiatives as well. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is so great, and so talk a little bit about some of the eco-friendly products that you carry and is this the only platform you sell them on or do you sell them also through retail stores or is this the platform? KELLY JACKSON: Yeah, so we sell them on our e-commerce site but we also do have small fair-trade stores around the country who sell our products as well. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wonderful. KELLY JACKSON: Yeah, and our eco-friendly products are just — they do great for us. We’re always just so blown away by the creativity that our partners have in creating these eco-friendly products. What comes to mind right now is that we have a partner in Cambodia called Friends International and this group employs parents of former street children to help them earn income that enables their children to attend school so this group, not only do they have an amazing mission but they’re also incredibly creative in developing the recycled products. We carry one product that’s called The Glitter Wallet and you’d never know by looking at it that it’s actually shredded candy wrappers, You know, the inside of a candy wrapper has that really nice metallic sheen so when you shred these all up, you get gorgeous blues and oranges and red and then add metallic in so it’s a really fun product and they’re also doing products with recycled tire. They’re developing a men’s wristband right now with recycled motor bike tires because if anyone’s been to Asia, they know that motor bikes are just everywhere so there’s lots of recycled materials to be had. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Yeah. For our listeners that just joined us, we’ve got Kelly Jackson on with us. She’s the Sales and Marketing Coordinator for GlobalGoodsPartners.org. I’m on the site. Get on the site if you can. It says here 20 countries, 38 partners. You’ve got partners, literally, women partners all around the world so you’re actually buying products- just so I understand this simply and so our listeners can understand how important- instead of going to buy stuff from a store that you’ve typically gone to, you can buy a gift from your website. You can support one of your partners and these gifts are beautiful. I’m looking at these bracelets and necklaces and all these wonderful products and you can help effectuate change in those communities that all have different types of challenges. Can you frame it up a little bit? With those 20 different countries, which is so amazing the broadness and the scope of this and to have 38 partners, talk a little bit about some of the different challenges and some of the journeys these women that are creating these products for you are on and how you’re helping them by supporting them, by buying their products. KELLY JACKSON: A big challenge for our partners is that a lot of them have very limited access to resources. Sourcing material, they can’t source good material to make high quality product so we work with one group in North Argentina called Pampa Brava and this organization works with women of the Wichi tribe and historically, these women have been discriminated against and they live in a very impoverished area where there’s no other outlet other than craft production to generate income so these women have taken to using, it’s called the chaguar fiber, to create jewelry. It’s really the only natural resource they have available to them to make jewelry so this chaguar fiber has no nutritional value. It’s just grown in the woodlands in northern Argentina and the women, for generations, have been harvesting chaguar. Then they roll it and weave it into beautiful jewelry. JOHN SHEGERIAN: The countries that you work in and the partners that you work in, all the partners are creating different products, I take it? KELLY JACKSON: Yes. Very different products. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Okay, I’m looking at this earth bracelet. It’s just gorgeous, The Brava Bracelet, and I know you have a project called Bracelets for Change. Talk a little bit about Bracelets for Change. KELLY JACKSON: Bracelets for Change, we launched this project two years and it really took off and it’s basically the Bracelets for Change product, when you buy a Bracelet for Change, you’re partnering with a woman in Guatemala to split the cost of clean water, healthy food, and a safer home for her family. This project was set up so when you purchase a bracelet, there’s actually a micro grant embedded into the price so when you buy the bracelet, a few dollars gets put into a matching fund to split the cost of one of four items for a woman and her family in Guatemala. It’s a very cool program and if you go to our website, you can see that we offer the Bracelets for Change in four different colors and each color actually buys a different product. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I’m on your website and again, for our listeners out there, GlobalGoodsPartners.org. Artisan partners can apply to be a new partner of yours, which is like so great. You’re using technology on both sides of the equation for women around the world that want to join as an artisan partner. They can do that online and of course, for our listeners out there that want to support this great organization, your great organization, you can go out and buy this stuff out there so here. We’re talking about jewelry but there’s bags, there’s scarves, there’s accessories. Talk a little bit about some of this other stuff that you have on here that people can get excited about and help support. KELLY JACKSON: You know, the cold air is coming. The cold weather is coming. I don’t want to say it but it is. We have a fantastic group in Bolivia that creates alpaca knitwear, handmade alpaca knitwear and they’re dedicated to using only natural dyes and actually, when it came to Global Goods Partners, this was one of the first products I saw and I was blown away. Vibrant natural dyes just cannot be matched and I saw photos of these exact natural dyes being created and walnut leaves are used to create the brown dyes and onionskins are used to create this gorgeous yellow dye and carrot tops are used to create the green dye. It’s just amazing. These are traditional techniques. These are the ways things were dyed generations ago and part of fair trade is actually keeping these traditional artisan techniques, reviving them, so it’s not only eco friendly but we’re not using this art form of natural dye as well. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Talk a little bit about last year, your Global Goods Partners Fair Tuesday event, the hashtag #FairTuesday. Explain what that is. KELLY JACKSON: For all of the ethical and eco friendly and fair trade shoppers out there, we wanted a day so we created Fair Tuesday as a response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday and you know, it absolutely took off. We came up with this idea in a staff meeting one day and we went, bought the URL, and then five weeks later, we had reached 3 million people. We had 130 partners in 13 different countries. It really exploded and for me, I think it highlighted the growing shift in consumerism. People want to know where their products are coming from and in this age of mass production, feeling a connection to the artisan and community that’s producing your product is very appealing. JOHN SHEGERIAN: It is very appealing. How many years has your organization been around? KELLY JACKSON: We were founded in 2006. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Two thousand and six, and are sales growing month after month, year over year? How is it going? KELLY JACKSON: Yeah. Year over year. Over the past couple of years, we’ve actually been partnering with larger retailers. Last year, we did a partnership with Club Monaco so it’s just fantastic that these larger brands are coming to a fair trade source like Global Goods Partners and having something produced. Again, it shows this changing shift in consumerism. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is just great. For our listeners out there, we’ve got about two minutes left. Share what your goal is, for our listeners out there, in terms of shopping on your site, engaging with your site, spreading the word. How easy is it to shop, to just look at what you like a click and buy? Can you buy gift cards? Explain how this works and what you really want out there so we can help continue to support a sustainable world and great business models like yours. KELLY JACKSON: Well to me, I think it’s simple. I think everyone wants to help in some way but that can be a very daunting task and you just don’t know where to start but I think with Global Goods Partners, you can shop and do good. It’s very simple. You can buy gorgeous gifts. When you give these gifts, you can tell a little bit about the story and the impact that they’re making and it’s just a very simple way to make a difference in communities throughout Asia, Africa, and the Americas. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You even have a bar and bat mitzvah project. Explain that really quick in the last 30 seconds. Give us how that works. KELLY JACKSON: The co-founder was part of the American Jewish World Service. That’s where she did a lot of community development work and so we have strong ties to the Jewish community. We love to give back. People want to do a fair trade bar or bat mitzvah. We have from Colombia, all hand made, wire dreidels. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Unbelievable. KELLY JACKSON: Wide range of products. JOHN SHEGERIAN: For our listeners out there, GlobalGoodsPartners.org. Go support them and change the world. KELLY JACKSON: Thank you so much. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Kelly Jackson, you’re a global inspirational leader and truly living proof that green is good.