SWAGS World do Christmas with Sustainable Artisan Crafts


Christmas is fully upon us. I know this because my weekly Sunday paper has doubled in size under the weight of branded gift guides, the Christmas market has opened in town and television adverts are united in a singular voice – buy our stuff for your best Christmas ever. We don’t have to partake in this commercialised view of Christmas though, should we want to do it differently. When it comes to buying gifts and decorating the home in the lead up to the big day, there are ways to give a gift that goes further than simply that received by the recipient.

Take SWAGS World for example. Buy one of their products – bags, sandals and dolls – and you are helping to empower a woman in South East Asia to earn her own income through her artisan craft. Joanne White founded SWAGS World (Simply Women and Girls Sustainable World) as a social enterprise offering affordable, accessible products for socially responsible shoppers, all handmade by women in South East Asia. The artisan women involved receive a fair price for their products through sustainable employment that will accommodate their family life and other commitments. SWAGS World pay 50% of the price of each item to the producers upfront, and the SWAGS Academy programme helps by providing training and support in creating a long-term artisan trade.

You can check out their products online. Their fabric covered Christmas tree decorations (£6) are absolutely gorgeous and are great stocking fillers. Each one has a special meaning, the globe symbolises celebration with family and friends. The recycled newspaper print shopper is practical, fun and classically designed, but my favourite product has to be the Harmony Dolls. Designed to spark curiosity in children, and an acceptance of diversity in the world, they are made by a co-operative of women on the island of Atauro, East Timor and are totally delightful.

SWAGS World christmas globe
SWAGS world recycled Handbag Newsprint

SWAGS World are based locally to me in Hampshire, so I got to ask the team about their future plans:

1. Where can we buy your stuff?

Our exclusive handmade products are currently available in our online store at swagsworld.com. We share the stories of the artisans we work with, so our customers can connect with the women who have created the products they are buying.

2. What’s the SWAGS Worldwide marketplace?

Our dream has always been to make ethical products desirable, accessible and affordable. With our Marketplace, we hope to offer a global collection of products for socially responsible consumers; an alternative to mass-produced, throwaway fashion, poor working conditions and undervalued labour. We will provide an online platform for consumers to purchase handmade items from artisans all around the world, with the knowledge that they are having a positive impact on people who really need it.

3. What would a real SWAGS world look like?

We believe a true SWAGS World would be positive, honest, educational, supportive and sustainable. We hope that with the continuing growth of ethical, sustainable brands and increasing choice for consumers, we are getting closer to this vision!

SWAGS World Harmony Dolls

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Soko Connecting African Artisans to Ethics Conscious Consumers Worldwide

Soko offers a revolutionary way for consumers worldwide to buy ethically made artisan goods direct from the African continent. Women produce 60%-80% of African goods but collectively receive only 10% of the income. Indeed, more than 85% of women in Sub-Saharan Africa are self-employed in the informal economy, often producing handmade goods to sell in the local marketplaces. Launched in 2002, Soko provides a platform to empower these talented women and allow them to trade on a global level. Using innovative technology, artisan makers can upload their seller profile, product images and product descriptions via their mobile phone, often via Soko’s Android app. Customers across the globe can then browse and buy online, like you would with any online shop, and money is transferred directly to the seller who can collect their earnings from a designated local kiosk – also the place that they can post their wares to the customer.

Instantly, artisans can trade at a whole new level; they don’t even need access to the internet. By removing the middle man, women can receive a fair price for their pieces and customers pay a fair price for a beautiful product. With a focus on jewellery, customers can choose from a wide range of gorgeous necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings. Many of the best pieces can be found in the Kenya Collection. Fusing contemporary fashion with traditional African looks, Soko work closely with the artisans involved in the Kenya Collection, helping them to develop their skills and produce pieces which will appeal to a mass market. The enterprise is deeply entrenched in a fair trade model and by their very nature, the artisan pieces make use of natural and sustainable materials such as discarded bone and cow horn and recycled glass.

Soko Brass Necklace

Soko kindly sent me the stunning Brass Fringed Necklace to try for size. Made from three different thicknesses of hammered brass rod it sits beautifully around the neck. Statement necklaces are bang on trend right now and for the same price as many pieces on the high street; you could buy an ethical, handmade necklace through Soko and support women’s economic development. What I love about this piece is the fact that I can dress it up or down from day to night. It would look gorgeous with a tan in the summer teamed with a printed maxi dress, but it also has a festive vibe that could see me through the Christmas party season!

Soko necklace

I strongly believe in supporting artisan skills and empowering women through trade. Soko offers feel good fashion with no compromises. Why not check out the marketplace to learn more about the makers and browse the collection to start compiling your Christmas list?

Soko are offering readers 15% off until Friday 8th November with the discount code SokoLovesARS

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