As the weather is getting chillier and the days darker, we are beginning to think more about the warmth and brightness that comes with the Christmas season. Our Christmas Market is happening this Saturday, November 17 and we are so excited to feature eleven vendors who have been selected to attend for their deep commitment to fair trade, social justice and/or ecological initiatives. This is the final blog of our five-part series which highlights these special vendors and the stories their products tell.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading and look forward to seeing you on Saturday!
Christal Earle, co-founder, and CEO of Brave Soles is the founder of an international youth humanitarian organization and has been working and learning from a local community of garbage dump workers since 2005. I happened to be on two of those youth trips over 10 years ago! There are massive amounts of tires in the dumps and they are a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying deadly diseases and contained many toxins. Christal had a great idea in 2017 about how those same tires could be turned into soles of beautiful handmade shoes and create a way to help the local community in the process. That is how Brave Soles was born!
Brave Soles produces unique handmade leather shoes with upcycled tire soles. They also create upcycled leather handbags and accessories.
All their items are made in the Dominican Republic and through their business model; Brave Soles assists in providing small-scale suppliers the ability to launch their own businesses and to work with them as their first customers. They are deeply committed to fair wages and safe working conditions for all employees and suppliers.
Chocosol’s mission statement is: To craft revolutionary chocolate and maize foods that are good for mind, body, and soil.
ChocoSol is a learning community social enterprise that focuses on making the ‘food of the gods’ – more commonly known as cacao – into stone ground, artisanal dark chocolate. They were founded in 2004 in Oaxaca, Mexico but have been based in Toronto since 2006. Since their beginning, they have remained true to the culinary traditions and inter-cultural relationships that have rooted them in Toronto and Mexico. Their learning community social enterprise model engages in the passionate work of re-making a more ecological, just, and meaningful civil society. It is about combining learning and earning through disciplined research and creativity.
They strive to create an ecologically and socially just food system through chocolate, coffee, and maize. Cacao, the main ingredient in all of their chocolates, is organically and shade-grown, sourced directly from Indigenous communities and forest gardens in the Lacondon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico and the Oaxacan mountains of Southern Mexico. In recent years they have expanded their trade relationship with cacao growers in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador. Their horizontal trade relationships with farmers go beyond the exchange of commodities and extend to the exchange of reciprocity, best practices, social enterprise models, forest garden re-generation and friendship.
Chocosol will be bringing a selection of delicious handcrafted chocolate, drinking chocolate, coffee and cacao products to the market!
Since 2001, Talis has been offering a range of silk, upcycled accessories and silver jewelry. Their line of beautiful, vibrant silk accessories is handcrafted in Cambodia and includes scarves, purses, wallets, and knapsacks. Check out their fun variety of accessories made from colourful recycled rice, cement and fish fertilizer bags (how cool is that?). Talis also has a line of beautiful silver jewellery made by Karen Hill Tribe people. There is an emphasis on preserving the indigenous traditional silver techniques for the next generation.
Talis focuses on marketing avenues for these artisan communities, as well as contemporary and fashionable designs with traditional detail. They are a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation and are deeply involved with the entire production process; from visiting Thailand and Cambodia and working directly with the producers who handcraft all products and overseeing the working conditions; to selling them at shows.
Owner Sylvia Biro Price works with producers who are disadvantaged (such as with polio) and paying them a fair wage so they can create a better life for their families and communities. By working with these producers for many years, this creates sustainability and a lasting livelihood for communities.
Check out our previous blogs here:
-Nicole Tanti, Community Engagement Coordinator