Monday, May 15, 2017

Fair Trade Faithful

The only way we're going to transform the political-global situation is through grassroots people-to-people connections. Rikki Quintana, Owner & CEO of Hoon Arts, Albuquerque
On May 13, the two local  fair-trade retailers certified by the Fair Trade Federation joined forces to celebrate World Fair Trade. We visited with them briefly at the event, which was held at Nob Hill Fabrics on Saturday.

One retailer, Baskets of Africa, has been around since 2002. The other retailer, Hoon Arts, is the new kid on the block, starting operations in late 2014. Baskets of Africa offers a wide variety of baskets and other handicrafts from many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Hoon Arts sells tapestries, rugs, silks and other handicrafts primarily from Tajikistan but also from the nearby former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan.

Each has a small retail location in Albuquerque.  Baskets of Africa is located at 4603 McLeod Rd, NE, between Jefferson and San Mateo, but the retailer does a large share of its business online. Hoon Arts rents a portion of the floor space from Nob Hill Fabrics, 4401 Cutler, NE. The retailer also has a website to sell products outside of Albuquerque. Below are a couple are brief histories of Baskets of Africa and Hoon Arts.

Cael Chappell founded Baskets of Africa in 2002
Baskets of Africa
Baskets of Africa was founded in 2002. Cael Chappell started working in African Art and Crafts in 1991 and fell in love with the incredible artistry and creativity of African basket weavers. This led to the creation of Baskets of Africa in order to focus attention on these amazing weavers and their work.

Over the year,s Chappell has developed a loyal clientele in Albuquerque, but a big chunk of business is conducted online. In addition to individual sales, Baskets of Africa supplies baskets for five independent retailers affiliated with the Ten Thousand Villages chain. "We feel that our business offers our customers a win-win situation: by purchasing one of our rare finds, you are not only getting a wonderful, handmade basket for your home or business, you are also contributing to the preservation of African culture and helping a craftsperson become financially independent," Chappell said in his website. "It's a true economic partnership in every sense of the word."

Rikki Quintana founded Hoon Arts
Hoon Arts
Rikki Quintana describes herself as a "recovering attorney" who supports international connections and cross-cultural understanding.

"When I was first starting out in law, I had visions of becoming an international relations lawyer — but my career took a detour and I ended up doing more general law first in Southern California and then here in New Mexico," Quintana said in an interview with Albuquerque Business First newspaper in July 2015.

A few years after leaving her  job in the legal profession, she met a group of artisans from Tajikistan and was impressed by the individuals and the products that they had to offer.  In November 2014, she founded Hoon Arts here in Albuquerque to sell products from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan, all countries that were part of the Great Silk Road.

Quintana came up with the name for her retail operation by combining Tajik word "hoonar" or "hunar," meaning "art" or "craft," with thethe English word "arts."

Hoon Arts received its certification from the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) in February of this year, meaning that the artisans get all or most of the income from their work at fair prices. The FTF follows the principle of 360° fair trade. "This means we work with small farmers and artisans in partnerships built on trust," said the certifying organization "It means good wages, safe working conditions, environmental responsibility, and more. It means our partners are empowered to build strong businesses for their families today – and for generations to come."

The products offered by Hoon Arts reflect the principles of fair trade."We hope that HoonArts will serve as the first major handicrafts bridge between Tajikistan and the US, helping to preserve and promote traditional Tajik handicrafts while also promoting economic development for the artisans, many of whom are impoverished women in rural mountain areas," Quintana says on her website.

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