Fair Trade from the Source

While in Kenya, Jason and I got to visit a fair trade soapstone art center outside of Kisii. They sell a bunch of their products in US stores. Here is the globe Jason got, for sale at World Market!

There are huge pockets of soapstone in the hills of the Kisii Provence, so soapstone carving has always been part of the culture of the Kisii people and techniques have been passed from generation to generation.

This was the perfect stop for me combining of my love for supporting fair trade, a childhood obsession with seeing how things were made thanks to Mr. Rodgers and my continual need to buy excessive amounts of gifts for friends while traveling. 

We were taken station by station to see how the soapstone art is created and it was super interesting to see these large hunks of rock slowly take shape- being carved, buffed, smoothed and painted into beautiful candlestick holders, platters, bowls and miniature animals.

I was most surprised to see the soapstone actually being broken down from the large chunks. As you can see in the picture, the stone is soft enough to be cut through with a regular saw!

Jason and I ended up coming back with an extra suitcase filled with soapstone carvings. My favorite purchase? Two white elephants. I now have the perfect thing for next white elephant gift exchange we're invited too!

Seriously though, I often purchase fair trade products and wonder about who's making it and if it really is a good working environment. It was so interesting to see that in this fair trade co-op, that was truly the case. 

Why buy fair trade? Read more about fair trade here

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