Mustard Seed Brings Fair Trade to Columbia + Giveaway!


Mustard Seed Fair Trade is a nonprofit fair trade organization and store located in The District at 25 S. 9th St. It is staffed mostly by volunteers and, since it opened in October 2008, aims to make the world a better place.

According to the Mustard Seed Fair Trade website, fair trade is “a deliberate effort to engage the global market in responsible business principles.” Fair trade organizations help talented artisans earn a fair wage for their work while also providing them with safe and healthy working conditions.

“We are committed to helping artisans around the world,” Executive Director Jessica Penner said.

Mustard Seed Fair Trade is also committed to “educating, transforming and inspiring local consumers and businesses to move toward socially responsible practices,” according to its website. Mustard Seed Fair Trade seeks to build meaningful, long-lasting relationships with its artisans and its local customers, as well as uphold a standard of personal integrity and social responsibility. The organization stays involved in the Columbia community, as well.

The store sells products from more than 30 different countries in Asia, Africa and South America. It works with one U.S. organization, the Women’s Bean Project, which runs out of Denver, Colo. Mustard Seed Fair Trade sells a variety of scarves, jewelry, accessories and home d├ęcor, Penner said.

Sseko sandals have also been a big seller at the store. Customers buy these leather sandals and the interchangeable fabric straps separately. The straps come in all different colors and designs, and they can be tied and styled in hundreds of ways.

Sseko “began as a way to generate income for high potential, talented young women to continue on to university” in Uganda, according to its website. Since it began, Sseko has graduated three classes of women to university.

“The response has been incredible,” Penner said of Sseko.

Penner loves working in fair trade not only because she gets to look at pretty things all day but also because fair trade provides a good platform for having conversations with people about awesome topics.

“I love the idea that people have purchasing power and when you buy something, you’re making a choice about making a difference in the world,” Penner said.

For those looking to get involved with Mustard Seed Fair Trade, volunteer applications can be found on the organization’s website. Mustard Seed Fair Trade also offers various internships each semester, and those applications can be found online. Penner encourages those interested to stop by the store anytime with any questions.

Follow Mustard Seed on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

GIVEAWAY:

Lucky for you, one College Gloss Mizzou reader will receive a $5 gift card to Mustard Seed! All you have to do to enter is comment on this post with your name and email address and "like" College Gloss Mizzou on Facebook!

Please note: This giveaway is open to Columbia-area residents only.

By: Maggie Hallam | Image: Source

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