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The Impact of Buying Fair Trade Products

Women Embroidery Artisans In India
Sevya's Cotton Block Print Caftan Dresses

Maybe you’ve heard the term fair trade before but aren’t quite sure what it means. Let’s dive into what it means, why it’s important, and how you can support fair trade today!

What is Fair Trade?

The term "fair trade" traces its roots to 1946 when Edna Ruth Byler, a volunteer for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). While in Puerto Rico, she witnessed the talent the women had for creating beautiful lace and the poverty in which they lived despite their hard work. She brought these creations back to the United States to sell and would return the money back to these groups directly. Her work grew into Ten Thousand Villages, which opened its first fair trade shop in 1958 and is now the largest fair trade retailer in North America! And they’re one of our wonderful buyers, so if you stop by one of their many locations across the US, you’ll likely see some of our pieces!

Ten Thousand Villages Ann Arbor Fair Trade Store

The Ten Thousand Villages store in Ann Arbor, Michigan has a beautiful selection of fair trade products from around the world, including hand-embroidered tunics from Sevya.

Sevya Handmade Apparel at Ten Thousand Villages Ann Arbor

Fair Trade Principles

Fair Trade Federation members fully commit to the following principles in all  their transactions:

  • Cultivate New Market Opportunities
  • Develop Transparent & Accountable Relationships
  • Promote Fair Trade
  • Pay Promptly and Fairly
  • Support Safe & Empowering Working Conditions
  • Ensure the Rights of Children
  • Cultivate Environmental Stewardship
  • Respect Cultural, Racial, and Ethnic Identity

Why is this so important?

In 1989, the World Fair Trade Organization (formerly IFAT) was founded as a global network of committed fair trade organizations. According to, “The WFTO is the global community and verifier of social enterprises that fully practice Fair Trade. Spread across 76 countries, WFTO members all exist to serve marginalized communities. To be a WFTO member, an enterprise or organization must demonstrate they put people and planet first in everything they do. We are democratically run by our members, who are part of a broader community of over 1,000 social enterprises and 1,500 shops.”

Fair Trade enterprises across the world directly impacts 965,700+ livelihoods supported through the operations and supply chains of these companies. The majority of these workers, farmers and artisans are women and women made up the majority of the leadership. They pioneer up-cycling and social enterprise, refugee livelihoods and women's leadership.


Women sitting on the ground, gathered around paperwork
A group of women in India attending a self-help group meeting.

Now that you know all about fair trade, if you'd like to support the work of our artisan partners in India, shop our selection of fair-trade apparel, accessories, and table linens. Sevya is a proud member of The Fair Trade Federation and our products can be found in many fair trade stores, boutiques, and catalogs around the world.

We are so grateful to be doing this work and look forward to continuing for many years to come! Thank you for supporting fair trade, together we can make the world a more fair, sustainable, and loving place.