ARCHBOLD — When Edna Ruth Byler traveled to Puerto Rico in 1946, she had no idea that she was about to start a global movement.
A volunteer living in a small Pennsylvania town, Edna met skilled craftswomen after traveling to La Plata Valley, Puerto Rico. When she learned they were struggling to feed their children, she was moved to partner with them to find a solution. Their handmade embroideries were striking. However, with no place to sell them, the women struggled to find steady income. With no clear plan, but a strong sense of purpose, she brought the pieces home and began sharing the stories of the artisans and selling them to her friends and neighbors for a fair price on their behalf.
Her idea was simple. By opening up access to the American market in a fair and transparent way, she created a path for the craftswomen of La Plata Valley to earn a sustainable income. These women could now support their families and invest in their communities. And the global fair trade movement was born. Since then, the organization has grown to be the largest fair trade retailer in North America, impacting the lives of 20,000 artisans in 30 different countries.
Ten Thousand Villages Archbold does business differently than typical retailers, giving customers an opportunity to shop with intention. Their artisan investment model puts the makers first and is built on long-term partnerships and fair trade principles. Each product sold and donation received expands their ability to deepen artisan relationships, explore new partnerships, and continue their work to break the cycle of poverty.
As part of the 75th anniversary celebration, each weekend in September Ten Thousand Villages Archbold will be offering a free fair trade gift with a $75 purchase.