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Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts that Give Back

Raven and Lily: Empowering women in Ethiopia through design
The holiday season is fast approaching and, with it, the opportunity to buy gifts that continue giving. If we take the time to carefully choose what we purchase, our gifts can give back to artisans in third world countries, support organizations creating change, invest in female owned small businesses and give back to the environment by using recycled goods. In short, we have the opportunity to choose to make our gifts count.

As you enter the holiday season, here are some gift ideas on how to give back as you buy for the women you love.

Raven + Lily is a design company exclusively featuring collections from marginalized women in Ethiopia and Northern India. Their Ethiopian collection empowers marginalized women through necklaces and bracelets made from bullet casings. Their collection from Northern India employs marginalized Muslim women to make sustainable jewelry, handmade journals and other goods from locally sourced leathers, hand-carved wood, recycled cotton paper made from textile remnants and hand-milled, natural soaps.

Nakate is my own initiative. We buy goods from a group of artisans in Kakooge, Uganda – a village particularly harshly affected by the aftermath of an AIDS crisis. We sell necklaces and bracelets created from recycled paper, and use the proceeds to support around 40 women who are re-beginning their lives as independent small business owners.

Radish Underground carries clothing and jewelry from individual designers that have committed to creating sustainable products and jobs. Owners Celestial Sipes and Gina Morris maintain a commitment to both fair labor, and up and coming fashion trends.

JUST is a mobile shop for cultural craft work made by artisans in developing countries. The shop is currently selling products made in Mexico and Bali. Beaded necklaces, small purses, scarves and large over the shoulder bags can be purchased directly from the owner through social networks.

Plywood People is a company using excess material to solve issues of global need and suffering. For the women in your life that love unique jewelry, their online store is currently offering a jewelry package supporting the livelihood of female artisans in Uganda. You can also shop the rest of their online store (including some beautiful Christmas cards from Rwanda!).

5th Season: Clothing Reborn is a Portland based company committed to reducing consumption and waste through using recycled consumer products to create unique, handmade bags. Owner Akiko Oguchi accepts custom orders, and often uses old fabrics or pieces of clothing to create handbags that are unique for individual customers.

For the females in your life that love good smelling products that don’t compromise on their ingredients, Essance offers a range of natural products, including perfume oils, body, massage and essential oil blends, along with face and body cream. Founder Jasmine Tran balances the top, middle and base notes of essential oils to help balance the mind, emotions and body. Beyond her commitment to natural ingredients, Tran plans to use her company to provide monetary support for orphanages in Vietnam.

CZ Wick and Suds is a soap company committed to providing the gentle products for your skin. CZ carries everything from makeup to salt and sugar scrubs for the women you love to pamper. Aside from their vegan selection of products, anything on their site can be made-to-order with vegan ingredients.

For the women you buy for with wee little ones, Oaxacaborn is an online shop carrying handmade hats and headbands.  Appliques are made with felt made from recycled plastic bottles, all fabric and lace has been upcycled and owner Gina Munsey uses elements like vintage silk thread whenever possible.

For girls you know like to keep it casual, TanQ sells uniquely designed tees for a different cause each month. This month’s  wonder woman tee supports the fight against domestic violence.

Photo credit: Raven + Lily, and Nakate Project.



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Written by Shanley Knox

Founder/owner of the Nakate Project, an initiative bringing third world female artisans to high fashion. I am passionate about all things that are truly sustainable, and truly making a positive difference in the world around us.

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