The story and intention behind our gifts that give back

Perhaps you’ve heard the term Fair Trade before, and you know it carries importance, but you’re not sure why.  Essentially, when products are labeled Fair Trade, there’s a guarantee that what you’re buying was ethically made.  The standards for Fair Trade producers are high – they must ensure safe working conditions for their employees and artisans; their methods and techniques must protect the environment; and the products manufactured must provide sustainable livelihoods for the workers involved.  But at its core, Fair Trade production puts people and the planet first, and when you buy Fair Trade products, you can shop with the assurance that your gifts aren’t only making a positive impact on the recipient but also on global communities and the environment.

As evidence of the movement’s effectiveness, the World Fair Trade Organization estimates Fair Trade Enterprises have improved more than 1 million livelihoods, 74% of whom are women.  This global reach is an example of what can be achieved when both companies and shoppers come together to embrace sustainability.

Working with Fair Trade-certified companies adds an even more profound element to Soniva’s gift-giving experience.  But more importantly, Fair Trade practices perfectly align with our values, which include empowering local and international artisans, protecting heritage, and providing products of the highest quality.  Additionally, our partnerships with Fair Trade companies ensure a highly curated collection of one-of-a-kind, handmade products, and in securing these relationships, we’re the first to bring this Fair Trade focus to Bermuda.

We’re proud of all our artisans, and we celebrate the care, attention, time, and passion that they invest in their creations.  However, we’d especially like to highlight our Fair Trade partners from three countries – Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Colombia.

Rwanda – Handwoven Bowls

SOKO Home’s handwoven bowls connect gift recipients to the beauty of African culture, communities, and people.  Featuring intricate patterns, astonishing colour and design, stunning craftsmanship, and the highest-quality materials, these bowls are sure to inspire awe during any gift-giving occasion.

Each woven bowl is created from dyed natural sisal fibres, which are woven over a core of forest grasses.  The weavers start in the middle of the bowl and, with precision, thread the sisal around and around, resulting in truly breath-taking designs.  The standout tea colour is created from steeping white sisal fibres in locally grown tea leaves.

SOKO Home is the passion project of Krista Molson, who, while adopting two children from Ethiopia, witnessed how local artisans formed art cooperatives to create beautiful wares, build livelihoods, and preserve local ways of living.  She started SOKO Home to connect these artisans to a larger audience and instil a sense of pride and purpose in the pieces consumers buy.  The artisans behind these products are men and women who use their skills and talents to impact their communities.  They may fill different social and familial roles, as friends, partners, role models, farmers, parents, and grandparents, but they’re all integral to their respective cooperatives, and they share both cultural pride and unmatched skill.

Ethiopia – Handwoven Towels

Also in partnership with SOKO Home, we bring you carefully crafted handwoven towels from Ethiopia.  Just as high-quality and painstakingly constructed as the handwoven bowls, these towels are made from natural 100% Egyptian cotton fibres.  They’re made using age-old weaving practices, and they’re died with AZO-free, REACH-certified natural dyes that are eco-friendly.

In style, they’re just as impressive.  Each two-toned towel is quick-drying and incredibly absorbent, softening with each wash cycle and making the perfect addition to any bathroom.  Especially notable are the unique design variations that result from their handcrafting, indicating truly distinctive products.

Talented artisans handle many different parts of the process, from weaving and winding to spinning and finishing.  And at every stage of production, tradition is honoured, celebrated, and elevated.

Colombia - Handwoven Homeware (napkin rings, coasters, chargers, and placemats)

By simply being placed in the home, these housewares enhance any space, effortlessly bringing rich, cultural history and timeless style to gift recipients.

These meticulously crafted pieces are handwoven in Sandoná and Usiacurí, coastal Colombian communities with long histories of craftsmanship and creativity.  The resulting products are not just by Colombian artisans but also evoke hallmarks of Colombian culture.  All throughout the country, ancient craftsmanship traditions are preserved, and by purchasing these handwoven creations, gift-givers help sustain local livelihoods while also ensuring ancient techniques get passed onto future generations.  

In all, well-intentioned gifts matter – they’re impressive, thoughtful, and impactful.  But these artisan-helmed gifts do more than wow the recipient; they imbue gift-giving with purpose, power, and tradition.  Fair Trade is marked by cultural respect, and it helps all of us fulfil our duty to each other and Mother Earth while elevating everyday gift-giving to new heights.