Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shanti Boutique: fair-trade jewelry for the eco- and spiritually-minded

by frédérik sisa

This week brings a brief eyeball review of a little online boutique I came across a while ago. I’ve haven’t had the chance to handle any of their goods first-hand, but their business model and compassion-driven philosophy is very compelling. In line with Toms and Sierra Sandals, Shanti Boutique is all about doing business with a conscience, that is, with an eye towards improving the world. A portion of the profits generated from the sale of yoga-related jewelry goes towards the Tibetan Children’s Education Fund, a non-profit “dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture by supporting Tibetan schools and school children-in-exile from their homeland.”

Also appealing is Shanti’s membership in Green America, which screens vendors for their environmental and social sustainability, and the Fair Trade Federation, a trade association of North American businesses committed to alleviate poverty and supporting sustainable businesses across the world:
“The Federation envisions a just and sustainable global economic system in which purchasing and production choices are made with concern for the well-being of people and the environment, creating a world where all people have viable economic options to meet their own needs. We seek to alleviate poverty by continually and significantly expanding the practice of trade that values the labor and dignity of all people.”

So what kind of jewelry does Shanti sell? Their products span the gamut – anklets, earrings, bracelets, pendants, and toe rings with a yoga, Hindu, and/or Buddhist flavour. Charms feature the “Om” character, yoga poses, and other charms loaded with spiritual and ecological significance. All of their jewelry is sterling silver; most are handcrafted. Materials used also include vegetarian ultrasuede. I quite like the gentle spirit and style inherent in the jewelry, and somehow I get a much better vibe from Shanti then I do from large retailers like Gaiam. Once I can reasonably justify it, I’ll try out some of the anklets and report back.
Of course, if I had been really clever I would written about this a few weeks when it would have made a difference for your holiday shopping. But there’s more to the holiday season than shopping, right? Regardless, Shanti Boutique is the sort of business worthwhile supporting for their good selection of designs and because the only way to get stores to notice that people want products that don’t exploit people and the environment is to support those businesses with good practices and avoid those without.

As always, I’d love to hear back from you if you do order from Shanti Boutique. Send me pics, feedback, comments…

On a housekeeping note, this will be my last post for the year. I’ll be back in January with more Fashionoclastic goodness, including an interview with LOOMLAB founder Jane Henry, bowling shirts, and more. Have great holidays! Namaste!

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