Monday, November 11, 2013

The Root Collective

The next couple of blog posts are dedicated to businesses which were recently launched by friends of mine.  Since I like taking every opportunity to support my friends' endeavors, I want to share their ventures and adventures with my readers.

First up, The Root Collective.

Being an employee of Ten Thousand Villages, I know how important it is to sell fair trade, ethically sourced products.  So when my friend Brooke announced that The Root Collective was taking shape, I was curious.  TRC is the brainchild of Brooke's friend Bethany Tran, and the two of them very kindly sat down and explained just what they're doing.

It all started when Bethany went to Guatemala to visit her friend who was living there for a year.  She fell in love with the impoverished region known as La Limonada, and came back to the States persuaded that she needed to do something to help those people change their circumstances.  Five years later, in her own words, she found the nerve to put her marketing degree to work and start TRC.

"It's a pretty scary undertaking," she says, but she's confident now that she's doing the right thing.

Here's how the whole thing works.  TRC is a shopping website where you can purchase jewelry, shoes, handbags, and scarves.  Prices range between $18 and $100, depending on what you buy, which isn't too different from the mall.  What is different is that with TRC, you can purchase with the confidence of knowing that your new pretties are ethically sourced - no slave labor, fair wages for the workers, and so on.  As Brooke put it to me, "People don't need a hand out - they need a hand up.  We hold intentional ties with the communities we partner with."

The other really cool part is that TRC is partnered with two non-profits (and looking to expand on that), and 10% of every purchase you make will be donated to the non-profit of your choice.  One is Lemonade International, providing education and food and health services to the residents of La Limonada in Guatemala.  The other is Come Unity, which works to provide education, clean water, and self-sufficiency to communities in Africa; your donation to them will help their efforts in Kenya.

Oh, and the products themselves?  We are talking cute.  90% of the time I am not a shoe freak like some women - I have four pairs that I wear regularly, and one's a pair of sneakers - but I admit to being a sucker for a sweet pair of ballet flats and boy do they have them.  The selection in each category is slightly limited, as you might expect from something that literally launched three days before this blog post went public, but they're working hard to expand.  Items currently available are handcrafted in Guatemala, Peru, and Kenya.  And yes, they have gift cards!

A purchase is a simple thing.  We do it all the time.  Making mindful purchases with a purpose, however, is a simple thing that can have a far-reaching impact - I know this firsthand.  So I'm proud to do what I can to tell you about this newest way you can shop to change lives.  Check out TRC at, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, or Pinterest.

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