[cleeng_content id="729999090" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Tenfold owner to show off wares at D.C. expo
HARPERS FERRY – A local store focused on sourcing their products in a way that supports environmentally friendly, fair wage production in developing countries will get a chance to present its goods to a wider audience in the nation’s capitol later this month.
Tenfold Fair Trade Collection, a Harpers Ferry boutique run by owner Martha Ehlman, will present its collection of certified fair trade clothing and accessories at the DC Green Festival on Sept. 21 and 22 at the Washington Convention Center. This will be the second time in as many years that Tenfold has appeared at the festival.
Green Festival is an annual festival spotlighting environmentally-friendly products and businesses that is a joint venture of the organizations Green America and Global Exchange.
In order to become an exhibitor at the Green Festival, Tenfold had to undergo an intensive screening process verifying that their products conform to fair trade principles of environmental sustainability and worker protection.
“We became Green America member in 2010,” Ehlman said. “It’s an arduous screening process. You have to submit answers to a questionnaire that is seven or eight pages long, and you have to prove to them that not only are you sourcing your products in a manner that is conscious of labor rights but also being good stewards of our earth.”
From a business perspective, Ehlman said the festival will give her store a chance to gain exposure in a larger market.
“There are no fair trade apparel stores in Washington, D.C., but there are a lot of socially conscious consumers there,” she said. “So I am going to be bringing a lot of clothing.”
Tenfold carries products made throughout the developing world.
“We have clothes from Ghana, from India, from Nepal,” she said, giving a partial list. “In light of all that has been going on in the world, especially in these clothing factories in Bangladesh, people are becoming more aware and more conscious of where their clothing is sourced.”
To showcase some of her most environmentally-friendly items, Ehlman said she will focus on clothes and accessories created from recycled goods. This include purses woven from cotton and VHS tape, handbags made of cotton woven through soda can tops, and bags made from excess seatbelt material or even old truck innertubes.
“If our bags are not made from recycled goods, they are made of sustainable goods,” she said, pointing out bags from Cambodia that are made with fast-growing and readily-available sea grasses.
Ehlman said her stores commitment to fair trade principles like worker and child protection, sustainability and respect for cultural identity sets her store apart from other outlets offering clothing and accessories.
“Promoting fair trade is a huge part of what we do,” she said. “It’s not just another gift store.”
“Some cultures have been doing weaving and looming for hundreds of years,” she said. “So we just find new products that will appeal to our consumers that they can use their skills to produce.”
Ehlman says it is unsurprising that many fair trade items are somewhat more costly that items produced in sweatshops, but, she says, the hidden cost of such mass-produced items are becoming more apparent.
She points, for example, to chocolate bars she sells that are fair trade certified.
“Hershey Chocolate is one of the worst offenders in terms of child labor,” she explains. “The cocoa fields are highly populated with children. And not just children whose parents want them to be there, but children who have been abducted.”
Her bas cost more than a Hershey Bar, she said, but they come with a clean conscience.