The felt garlands, wreath and ornaments pictured on this page have been wet-pressed, sun-dried and stitched by hand using high-quality wool from New Zealand.
That alone is nice to know, as it conjures images of age-old techniques and unique products. What’s even better, though, is knowing that the people who make them will benefit directly from their sales.
Turns out that West Elm, a subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma, has committed to pay $35 million directly to artisans around the world through next year. West Elm this year opened a store at 400 W. 47th St. on the Country Club Plaza.
The company is collaborating with 20 artisan groups in 15 countries and will have an impact on the lives of 4,500 people and their families by selling their handmade wares. What’s more, most of the artisans are women who are learning skills so they can support their families.
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The felt items were created in a workshop and design studio that was started 17 years ago with $150 by two brothers and three sisters from a poor family in Katmandu, Nepal. According to West Elm’s website, the sisters would hand-knit purses and sell them to support the family. After attending a government university on a scholarship, the older brother helped his sisters start an export business.
Today, their company is worth $3.5 million, has more than 500 employees and is one of the top exporters of handicrafts in Nepal.
Home goods shops that do good
▪ World’s Window, 332 W. 63rd St.
▪ Ten Thousand Villages, 7947 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park
▪ West Elm, 400 W. 47th St.
▪ Indigo Wild, 3125 Wyandotte St.
▪ Déjà Zoo Gift Shop at the Kansas City Zoo
▪ Worldstock Fair Trade at Overstock.com
And don’t forget Goodwill, Salvation Army and other area thrift stores.