What if you could buy your beanie straight from the artisan – you know, the person making your item? Someone who will get paid a fair amount for it and work from the comfort of her home, and support kids in need in the process? Add worldwide shipping possibilities to this list and it might seem like an impossible dream to all our fair-trade, eco-loving hearts…
And yet it isn’t. Thanks to beyondBeanie, we can now all enjoy a wide variety of hand-made products from Bolivia, one of which being this handmade wool knit cap. It is:
We love it, and think you will too!
Not very often do you come across a company that makes the words honesty and integrity come to mind… beyondBeanie is the exception. Founded by Hector Alvarez (from Chili) and Patricia Luzero (from Bolivia), this company is one that truly stands out from the crowd. Honestly, finding out about their philosophy made us do a little happy-dance.
To give you a better idea of the workings of this company and what makes it so different from other western-world companies who claim to be “helping” the third world, let’s see what impact one beyondBeanie product has once ordered:
The production starts in one of the artisan’s houses in Bolivia. Since these women often stand alone in taking care of their families, they work from home and create your new favourite beanie without having to leave their kids unattended and uncared for. The designs use traditional colours and alpaca wool from Bolivia, to ensure a little bit of the Bolivian culture shines through in every product. Inside of each beanie the artisan will sign her name, so you know exactly who created the item for you.
Once your woolen knit cap has been produced, it will be shipped to your home – wherever in the world that may be. Open up that package and show off your new beanie, and don’t forget to check who made it! All artisans have a profile on the beyondBeanie website telling you a bit about their background. You can send them a message saying thank you through the site as well – something that we feel really sets this company apart.
So many great things that would normally not even be considered before a product is labelled fair trade, and we’re not even done yet. Those pounds you paid for your handmade wool beanie will not just go to the CEO’s new car and some pennies to the woman who actually made it… Instead, the artisan will be payed a fair price, and every product sold will make a direct positive impact on the life of a child in need in Cochabamba, Bolivia. This could mean dental care, a set of school supplies, five meals, or a school uniform, depending on the product you bought.
If you’d like to meet the brainpower behind this great concept, have a look at their TedX talk.
Well, after reading a company philosophy like that, there’s only so much left to say to convince you to choose this beanie over the millions of others out there. But these beanie hats, suitable for men and women, are not just the definition of what fair trade should be.
Every black rainbow beanie is made of at least 20% alpaca wool from Bolivia. Although not stated on the website, we are assuming that this wool will also be bought fair-trade from local salesmen, which would help the local economy.
About the other 80% of materials… They are not quite as natural as we would like them to be. Acrylic and fleece do not exactly warm our green hearts, and this is something where beyondBeanie finds room for improvement. Perhaps some recycled materials from the area could be implemented, or a switch to alpaca wool only?
But, if your beanie is hand-signed by the artisan who made it and got paid a fair price for it, you get to send them a thank-you note after, and your money will (mostly) end up in supplies and food for kids who need it most… Even we don’t want to be too picky about the materials just yet.
So go ahead, treat yourself to a Bolivian-inspired beanie and make an artisan friend along the way. And while you’re at it, just let beyondBeanie know that you’ll be waiting for their first all-natural-materials beanie to launch before your next purchase…!