23 January 2010

Guest blog: Why Fair Trade Changed My World

Working in an industry where we’re always searching for something new to excite our customers, it’s easy to forget that there are many people behind the products we offer those customers.
Whether you source items from local artisans or those manufactured by large factories in China, the fact of the matter is that someone was responsible for making those items. And the question we should ask ourselves as retailers is: Are we hurting others in the process of merchandising our shops with beautiful items?
I first learned of fair trade almost a decade ago when I was working in the gift and home industry for a large trade show producer. I love the little shops that dot Main Street and was overwhelmed by the choices of tantalizing products awaiting retailers down every aisle and showroom. How could they choose, I asked myself?
As I spoke with retailers and manufacturers, it became clear that prices, next to products, were very important to them. And in order to keep prices low, the cost of producing the products had to be as low as possible. Well, someone had to “pay the price” of keeping prices low and you can imagine who has to bear the brunt – those who toil to make the products.
Fair trade, at its very core, is about paying those who make the products a fair wage. It also means they are working in decent working conditions and do not employ sweatshop or child labor. This concept made so much sense to me – why would I ever want to sell (or wear or use something) when I knew another person had to suffer for me to have it?
I launched World Shoppe as a way to offer beautiful and on-trend gifts and home accessories that were all handmade and fair trade to test my idea – Is there a market to support fair trade? Is there ever! World Shoppe quickly gained steam and within a few weeks of going live, I received a call from a national consumer fashion magazine editor who wanted to feature three of the items from the site in its holiday gift guide. Within two months I was shipping out hundreds of gifts and home accessories all over the country.
Last year I had the opportunity to visit with artisans in South Africa where I was able to work one-on-one to create a beautiful collection of copper and brass jewelry. The designs are new to the United States and definitely not for the wallflowers. The necklaces are more statement pieces, the cuffs are to be noticed and the earrings will complement almost any outfit – day or night.
Within days of U.S. Customs releasing my shipment, I had my first retail customer who also offered to host a launch party for the new line. Within two weeks, I had three more. Are American consumers ready for fair trade? Absolutely.
Is fair trade easy? Not always, since you’re often working with developing countries strife with political or other type of turmoil. Postal office strikes, lack of road access, not properly marking products with country of origin and having your packages held up at U.S. Customs are all very real issues that affect packages coming into the United States. Nonetheless, the rewards of positively affecting another person’s life is what motivates me daily.
So next time you’re eyeing some new gifts or home accents for your shop, take a moment to ask another critical question after you ask about the prices or minimums – how is the product made? While no one will tell you the item has been created using sweatshop or child labor, the answers may surprise you – positively or negatively.
For a list of organizations currently wholesaling fair trade gifts and home accessories, visit the Fair Trade Federation. The non-profit also lists organizations exhibiting at various gift and home trade shows throughout the country, making it ways to find, and source, socially-responsible merchandise for your shops!

Megy Karydes is founder of World Shoppe), a fair trade retailer and wholesaler of handmade jewelry from South Africa. You can contact her at megy [at] World-Shoppe [dot] com

22 January 2010

4 area rugs in wool, wool blends


Following the Atlanta International Area Rug Market earlier this month, Capel Rugs reported a 25% increase in sales over last year's market. The company introduced wool, wool-blend, and manmade-fiber rugs.

Retailers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimums.

Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer to order this item for you.

Tibetan Treasures

Abby's Garden

Stencil Garden

21 January 2010

Best-selling furniture, apparel and gfits

Two's Company says these are some of its best-selling introductions of the 2010 gift show season. The turquoise plate from the company's Tozai division is noteworthy, given Pantone's announcement that turquoise is the color of the year. The Heritage chest of drawers is also from Tozai.
The hand-blocked voile robe from Two's Company is available in six colors and patterns. The Butterfly pill box with mirror comes with a velvet pouch.

Retailers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimums.

Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer to order this item for you.

20 January 2010

New floral arrangements for Winterthur Collection

Diane James Designs debuts its first collection of botancials for Winterthur at the New York International Gift Fair this month.

Retailers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimums.

Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer or designer to order this item for you.

19 January 2010

Personalized baby gifts and clothing

Elegant Baby will be showing its collection of personalized gifts and apparel for babies at the New York International Gift Fair. See more items from its catalog here. The rubber duckies (left) light up when squeezed.

Retailers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimums.

Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer to order this item for you.

Claudia's Corner: Simple decorating ideas | recordonline.com

Claudia's Corner: Simple decorating ideas | recordonline.com

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18 January 2010

ARTS Awards honor home furnishings industry retailers, manufacturers

from a press release
21st Annual ARTS Awards Winners Announced
    Dallas Market Center and ART hosted awards ceremony during gala event–
DALLAS – January 18, 2010 – Dallas Market Center, the world’s most complete wholesale marketplace, and the Accessories Resource Team (ART), the trade association representing the decorative accessory industry, announced the winners of the 21st annual ARTS Awards during a gala event held the evening of Saturday, January 16 in The Grand Pavilion at the Trade Mart. More than 500 guests attended the ceremony that recognized ARTS Award winners in 26 different categories. Don McEvoy, founder of Don McEvoy and Associates, was honored with the Academy of Achievement Award for his significant contributions to the decorative accessories industry. Attendees consisted of a wide range of retailers, manufacturers, sales representatives, media and designers from across the country.

The Grand Pavilion at the Trade Mart was transformed for the evening and welcomed guests with shades of rich gold, emerald green, and turquoise. Tufted leather banquettes and exotic floral arrangements created both a unique and sophisticated ambiance for all of those in attendance.
Distinguished presenters, Clodagh and Joe Ruggiero, joined market center executives and ART team leaders in recognizing the winners. Bill Winsor, president and CEO of Dallas Market Center, and Cindy Morris, COO of Dallas Market Center offered opening remarks. ART was represented by executive director, Sharon Davis, and 2010-2011 ART president and Hall of Fame retailer, Bill Fortson, who also presented awards.
“It’s always an honor to celebrate the accomplishments of such outstanding members of the decorative accessories industry,” Winsor said. “Congratulations to this year’s winners of the 21st annual ARTS Awards.”

The ARTS Awards, presented each January during the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market, is the premier awards program for the decorative accessories industry and recognizes excellence from retailers, manufacturers, sales representatives and designers.

21st ARTS Awards Winners

Accent Furniture
PALECEK – Richmond, Calif.

Area Rugs
Loloi Rugs – Dallas, Texas

Decorative Accessories
Global Views – Dallas, Texas

Home Textiles
Blissliving Home – Rockville, Md.
Lighting Fixtures
Visual Comfort & Co. – Houston, Texas
Outdoor Living
Seasonal Living – Austin, Texas

Permanent Floral
Distinctive Designs – Russellville, Ala.
Portable Lamps
Barbara Cosgrove Lamps – North Kansas City, Mo.
Beatriz Ball Collection – Harvey, La.
Wall D├ęcor
Paragon – Albertville, Ala.

Sales Representative

Brittain Cherry, Ogburn-Cherry & Associates
Derrick Ricketts, CODARUS

Laura Fast, OneCoast/ Homestyle 
Product Designer
Jason Phillips, The Phillips Collection
International Retail Store
Ma Maison – Mexico City, Mexico
Rising Star Retailer

Bravado Home & Design – Portland, Ore.

Furniture Store

Albert’s Interiors – Newton Square, Pa.
HW Home – Boulder, Colo.
Homescapes Carmel –  Carmel, Calif.
Home Accent Store

Ambiance Interiors & Gifts, Inc. – Suwanee, Ga.
Burlap Horse –  Boerne, Texas
Grace Home Furnishings – Los Angeles, Calif.
Lighting Showroom

Southern Lighting Gallery – Augusta, Ga.
Light by Design –  San Antonio, Texas
Western Montana Lighting – Missoula, Mont.
Make plans now to attend the next Dallas Total Home & Gift Markets: March 25-28 and June 23-29, 2010. Attendees may contact the Dallas Market Center’s in-house travel agency, Market Travel®, for substantial travel and hotel discounts by calling 1-800-DAL-MKTS.

About the ARTS Awards

The ARTS Awards is the premiere awards program dedicated to the home decorative accessories industry. Twenty-six categories exist under the headings Manufacturer, Retailer, Product Designer, Sales Representative, Rising Star and Academy of Achievement. Anyone in the industry can nominate including manufacturers, retailers, sales representatives, designers, suppliers, consultants and other industry officials. The Academy of Achievement honoree is selected by the ARTS Awards committee each year. Companies that have won the ARTS Awards five times are inducted into the Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame members are: BJ’s Home Accents, C.S. Wo & Sons, Distinctive Designs International Inc., Feizy Rugs, Fine Art Lamps, Montaage, Natural Decorations Inc., Palecek, Robb & Stucky and Schonbek Worldwide Lighting. 
About the Accessories Resource Team
The Accessories Resource Team (ART) is the association representing accessory manufacturers, retailers, representatives and other industry individuals and companies interested in promoting the decorative home accessories industry. The association’s goal is to enhance the market position of decorative home accessories. Each year ART sponsors programs such as the ART conference, regional educational seminars and the ARTS Awards. The Accessories Resource Team Web site is available at www.accessoriesresourceteam.org.
About Dallas Market Center
Founded in 1957, Dallas Market Center is the world’s most complete wholesale marketplace. Within its marketplace of more than five million square feet, retailers from around the globe source products ranging from home furnishings, gifts, decorative accessories and lighting to textiles, fashion accessories and men's, western, women's and children's apparel. With more than 50 markets each year attended by more than 200,000 retail buyers from all 50 states and 84 countries, Dallas Market Center offers hundreds of events and seminars geared toward helping retailers expand business and increase profits. As a result, more than $8 billion in estimated wholesale transactions are conducted annually within the Dallas Market Center complex. The Dallas Market Center Web site is available at http://www.dallasmarketcenter.com/.


Home decor made with natural stone

Sea Stones uses real stones from New England beaches and rivers in its home decor line. The coat hook, wine glass, bottle stopper, napkin ring and clock incorporate natural materials.
“We collect from private rivers and beaches, with permission. When we collect a stone, we make sure there will always be a replacement for future gatherers. So we purchase stones from a quarry, and for each stone harvested, we ‘plant’ a new stone in the water,” says creator Arra David.

Retailers: Contact the manufacturer for prices and minimums.

Shoppers: Ask your favorite independent retailer to order this item for you.

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