Fair Trade Jewelry Maker Promotes Using Ethical Sources

By Deanna B Narveson
The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In 2009, Paulette Bertrand helped start the Mankato Area Fair Trade Town Initiative, which helps promote the sale of sustainable, ethically produced products in Mankato.

The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.

Pieces from all over the globe come together in each of Paulette Bertrand’s necklaces, and no two are alike.

There are beads made of paper from Uganda, shiny ceramic pieces from Kenya, round wooden beads from the Philippines, silver from Colorado and flat, vibrantly colored beads from South America. All of them are fair trade certified.

“I started making jewelry about 20 years ago because I had a job that I had to travel,” said Bertrand, of Mankato, who now sells her pieces online and at craft shows under her Fair Chic brand name.

She was hopping planes back and forth for her work as a graphic designer and making jewelry in airports, and slowly her small hobby business grew.

While at a craft fair in Milwaukee, she stumbled across a dealer who sold ceramic Kazuri beads, made by a World Fair Trade Organization in Kenya that provides jobs for women in towns around Nairobi.

“That just fascinated me, and I thought, you know there’s so much jewelry out there, so I want my jewelry to be unique,” Bertrand said.

Each pattern on the Kazuri beads is made by a different woman. Bertrand said she started to look for more and more fair trade beads. She got paper beads from Outreach Uganda and flat beads made from rain forest nuts. Her favorite necklaces have birds and giraffes on them and use deep blue and purple beads.

In 2009, Bertrand helped start the Mankato Area Fair Trade Town Initiative, which helps promote the sale of sustainable, ethically produced products in Mankato. In 2011, Mankato earned the title of Fair Trade Town in Minnesota from Fair Trade Town International.

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