| Cloth dolls,
handmade by a Kenyan teenage mothers group, are also for sale.
"They are a really good group,"
Jones said. "we still work with them and hear from them
The art and crafts sold at the New Smyrna
Beach store are not made by nameless workers in a faraway
sweatshop. Rather, Jones and Ward said they take great care to
deal fairly and ethically with the individual craftspeople, many of
whom they know personally and keep in contact with by e-mail.
They adhere to Fair Trade principles, which they say are popular in
Global Crafts will celebrate International
World Fair Trade Day from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Flagler Avenue
gazebo. The Ngoma Thunder Drummers from Jacksonville will
perform, along with the Babe James Center's Heritage African-American
"Part of the role of being in Fair Trade
is an education role and the event goes in with that," Ward
said. "We don't just want to use New Smyrna Beach as
somewhere to ship from. We want to have a presence here."
Many Fair Trade companies in the U.S. are
nonprofits, but he said he and Jones were determined to make it their
livelihoods after returning from Africa in 2002.
"Our whole point is if you can't prove
you can do this as a business, it's pointless," he said.
"The couple, both of whom work full-time
at the business, have been successful over the past two years, putting
any profits back into growing their company, they said. The are
opening a second store in St. Augustine this month and in December,
they opened a warehouse in Edgewater. A lot of their business is
done over the Internet, Ward said, and they export internationally.
The couple was inspired to start their own
Fair Trade business, after returning from volunteer stints in
Kenya. At 40, Jones quit a good-paying computer job to join the
While working as a computer instructor at a
junior college in Kenya, she met Ward, who was in a similar role with
Voluntary Services Overseas, a British organization similar to the
Peace Corps. Ward, then 35, left his job as a computer lecturer
in London to work in Africa. But the couple's teaching days were
"They started rationing electricity,
which made it very hard to teach computers," Jones said.
So the couple began doing other things, such
as working with a teenage mothers' group. The women, about half
of whom are HIV-positive, mad crafts to earn money, Jones said.
That gave her and Ward the initial idea for their company. In
2002, Jones arrived in New Smyrna Beach to live temporarily in her
sister's condominium, while Ward bought African crafts to ship over.
"We sank our savings into buying
crafts," she said. "The container showed up a month
after he did (from England.)"
The biggest expense is shipping the items,
Ward said, which is why they concentrate on only a few
countries. The receive about two tons of shipments from Africa
per month, about half of which comes from Kenya, he said. They
also directly import from Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The
hire African employees in each country to coordinate the shipments,
but deal directly with the many artisans by e-mail.
"Quality is our big push -- and
service," Jones said. Ward agreed.
"You only get the quality when you're
doing fair trade with craftspeople," he said.