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Tess Ghilaga

Tess Ghilaga

Posted: December 22, 2009 04:49 PM

Shopping for a Change

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We all have our shopping quirks, and with only days till Christmas I'll share some of mine. I'll never brave another frantic, last-minute Best Buy crowd, but who can forget the money shot at Lord & Taylor of my boy on Santa's lap? Amidst this Yuletide bedlam, one of my globetrotting yoga clients invited me to an NYC-style tree trimming party. So the hunt was on. I needed an extraordinary ornament, and to find it I headed off to Urban Zen's Global Goods Partners event.


Global Goods Partners
(GCP) is a fair-trade, not-for-profit organization focused on diminishing poverty and promoting social justice by enhancing women-led development initiatives in Asia, Africa and the Americas. The smart and stylish founders, Catherine Lieber Shimony and Joan Shifrin, honor the fortitude and artistry of women across all borders by showcasing traditional weaving, sewing, knitting, embroidery, jewelry, and much more. Indeed, passing on crafts and traditions revitalizes family ties and boosts incomes. Today, GCP supports 47 partners in 24 countries, including Darfur, Afghanistan, Sudan and Peru.

As the global economy recalibrates, organizations like GCP continue to affect change in the lives of countless women, families and entire communities. Fashion designers love to draw inspiration from far-flung locales and cultures, translating and transporting them to glamorous runways. Consider how Talitha Getty's iconic, bohemian garb, photographed in 1969's Marrakesh, still influences the tastemakers of our time. Shopping for beautiful, hand-made items crafted in distant lands -- by women and mothers striving and succeeding for a better way of life -- makes quite an impression.

I bought a green silk Christmas tree ornament from Cambodia, complete with hand-stitched beadwork and a bell. My purchase provides a source of income to marginalized people with disabilities, while addressing the issues of women's rights, literacy, education and public health. An eco-friendly Alpaca hat from Bolivia, a beaded tribal-inflected necklace from Tanzania, and a hand-carved wooden bracelet from India are just some of the accessories I'd like to add to my ever-escalating, eclectic holiday wardrobe. For the budget and fashion conscious, the price and crafts couldn't be more appealing. Moreover, it's a huge deposit in your karmic bank.