Give a gift to be remembered with one dozen, 2" x 2" soapstone hearts! These Fair Trade hearts are a meaningful remembrance of love that you can give to many people you care about - or just that one special person. Each heart is a small sculpture and no two are the same.
The dozen hearts are hand-carved, hand-dyed, and hand-etched by artisans in Kenya. The hearts arrive in three vibrant colors and are a lasting gift of love that also show your support for Fair Trade products in Africa.
This contest is for US residents only. The contest starts at 10 AM PST on 02/02/14 and ends at 10 AM PST on 02/09/2014. Thanks for entering!a Rafflecopter giveaway
We are proud to carry products by Dorcus Beads, a small co-op of Kenyan women who handcraft "magazine beads" using discarded magazines and promotional materials. This excellent video shows the many processes involved in the making of a magazine bead, starting with the cutting of thin strips of paper to the creative construction of the finished product.
You'll find several of these extremely eco-friendly products on our site under the Jewelry and Fashion page. One of our best sellers is the Magazine Bead Coil Bracelet. You'll also be pleased to know that these special women donate all of their proceeds to community betterment. The beads are truly beautiful on multiple levels!
Contest time! This week we are giving away two sets of our famous Batik Travel Trio (retail value of $135 a piece), which includes a large 16" x 17" Shoulder Tote, 57" x 38" Beach Blanket/Table Cloth, and and 9" x 9" Zippered Pouch.
These beautiful, Fair Trade products come from Tanzania where they are handcrafted by a women-run workshop called Marvelous Batik. This small business is internationally known for its one-of-a-kind fabric and impressively handcrafted, textile products that are often featured in high-class hotels and interior design magazines.
The Shoulder Tote is lined with canvas for durability, and you can use it as a shopping bag, gym bag, or beach bag. The large Beach Blanket is also canvas-lined and is a great accessory for camping, lounging on the beach, or displaying in the home. The Zippered Pouch can be used for, well, anything. The blanket and pouch fit neatly inside the tote for easy transport.
The contest starts at 12 PM PST today and ends at 12 PM on 01/20. The two winners will be randomly given one of the two pictured designs: Seahorse Batik or Yellow & Orange Floral Batik. This contest is for US residents only. Thanks for entering our contest and good luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Over the last decade, shea butter has become a "must-have" ingredient for both low- and high-priced cosmetics and lotions. In fact, the next time you are in the grocery store or mall, look at the ingredients list of most lotions and you will likely find shea butter listed among them. Pure, handmade, African shea butter is indeed a miracle substance that can used to treat a variety of skin ailments, beautify the skin and hair, and even be used as a cooking oil. It is this near mystical reputation that has created a global frenzy for shea butter, with most consumers considering all forms of shea butter to be of the same superb quality.
Of course this is not the case. Did you know that 80% of Africa's shea exports are currently sold as raw nuts that go to large industrial processors in Europe? Because of shea butter's recent popularity in cosmetics, global demand for the product is being met through industrial means. We can't say this is a "bad thing" because it is simply the way supply and demand works in a global economy. However, the mass export of shea butter nuts from Africa does mean that 1) pure, unrefined, naturally made shea butter is more difficult to acquire and 2) African women's livelihoods are being affected.
For generations, women in Ghana, Sudan, Burkina Faso, and many other African countries have passed down to their daughters the techniques for manually harvesting and processing shea nuts into a butter that retains all of its nutritive properties. The process of making shea butter is intensive and involves cracking the nuts with rocks, crushing the pieces with giant mortars, roasting the nuts in small batches while constantly turning them so they do not get too hot, grinding of pressed or roasted nuts, clarifying the oil with spoons, and finally collecting and shaping the butter.
Industrially, elsewhere in the world, a mechanical sheller is used and the refined butter is extracted with chemicals such as hexane. What is hexane? Besides being a constituent of gasoline, hexane is used in the formulation of glues for shoes, leather products, and roofing. Hexane is also used to extract cooking oils from seeds, for cleansing and degreasing a variety of items, and in textile manufacturing (Source: Shea Butter Wikipedia and Hexane Wikipedia).
In other words, yuck! Personally, this blogger does not want to be rubbing hexane on her face, but I - and you if you are reading this blog - do have access to the real deal: 100% pure, naturally processed African shea butter. Purchasing real African shea butter is also crucially important for many rural women who depend on shea butter for income. In fact, shea butter is such a critical form of income for many African women that is commonly referred to as “women’s gold.”
Okay, enough preaching. We just started carrying a fabulous line of shea butter from West Africa and wanted to share some of our pics from our recent trip. Hopefully you can see the hard work and traditional techniques that make this shea butter a cut above anything you can buy in a grocery store or even the most expensive European and American skincare products. Thanks for reading!
Hello and happy holidays from the Swahili Modern headquarters in Eugene, OR! If you ever find yourself in town, please come visit our physical store at the lovely 5th Street Market.
There are many diverse African villages that make up Swahili African Modern, spreading from East Africa to West Africa and down to the Southern tier. For the past 18 years, we have been blessed to watch a network of talented artisans grow, all because you welcome handmade African products into your home. When you buy Swahili products, you help build strong communities in Africa from the grassroots level, so we truly appreciate your kind support of fair trade.
Our network of artisans and buyers now reaches around the globe and serves as an example of peaceful cooperation and enthusiastic creativity. Happy Holidays from our family to yours. May 2014 be a peaceful & prosperous year.
We're giving away our best-selling, $88 White Peace Corps Hamper to a lucky individual on December 12th. This hand-woven basket has a great story behind it and looks beautiful in any home. The hamper would make a lovely holiday gift (though we won't tell anyone if you keep it for yourself!). To enter, simply fill in the fields below. Good luck!
Restrictions: This contest is for US residents only. You can gain up to six additional entries to win if you fill out all of the fields.
EDIT: Congratulations to Bobbie F. for winning this contest!
In September, we happened upon this booth of medicinal cures at a market in Burkina Faso. The booth seemed to have a cure for everything: Super Health, Asthma, Hypertension, Stomach Ulcers, General Fatigue, and even a Sexual Aid for Female Frigidity (yikes!). Many of these cures are made by hand, with local herbs, and in the "Research Laboratory of Botanical Sciences," which could very well be the vendor's home.
If your initial reaction is to scoff at these herbal remedies as being rudimentary or complete hogwash, you might want to consider an article in this month's New York Times that revealed that many of the herbal supplements sold in the US are not what they claim to be. A group of Canadian researchers recently tested 44 bottles of popular supplements sold by 12 namebrand companies, and they found that many of the herbal supplements sold in the US were simply powdered rice, wheat, or soybean.
The FDA does not test or regulate herbal supplements, which allows companies to more or less fill pills with whatever they want. According to the NYT, "Of 44 herbal supplements tested, one-third showed outright substitution, meaning there was no trace of the plant advertised on the bottle — only another plant in its place."
While we can't attest to the effectiveness of these local remedies, they are likely based on some sort of regional plant understanding that has been fostered over the years. At the very least, it's likely that these handmade medicines have much more healing potential than ground rice powder.