Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in San Diego, CA but left to attend college in Denver and Houston. I then began a Wall Street career in fixed income trading and later institutional/high net worth sales. After a 30-year career, I retired and started Genesis Fair Trade.
What exactly is Genesis Fair Trade?
Genesis Fair Trade is a social enterprise dedicated to empowering women artisans around the globe. The Genesis Fair Trade online market features artisan-made products from indigenous cultures, where every handmade item helps reinvest resources back into each community. Genesis’ online market currently features products from Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru. Plus, we recently added products from Haiti! Each product is made with organic materials, recycled products, and natural dyes using traditional methods to create beautiful Fair Trade goods. For us, Fair Trade is more than just equitable wages. Fair Trade is about equality, sourcing transparency, and respect for every artisans’ talent. Genesis focuses on empowering artisans to create unique products in safe working conditions with sustainable pay. We are really proud to adhere by Fair Trade principles and promote empowerment of people around the world.
What inspired you to start Genesis Fair Trade?
I started Genesis Fair Trade in 2016, to help impoverished communities thrive through Fair Trade practices. While visiting these indigenous cultures, I wanted to create a platform to share these beautiful handmade products in a way that benefited both artisans and their hometowns. Partnering with local NGOs and non-profits, we have been able to provide for each community and help customers become a ‘Partner in Empowerment (PIE)’ through every purchase.
In working directly with the indigenous artisans many disclosed that they had been planning on leaving their children in order to make the dangerous and sometimes fatal journey to the United States for work. That was before I showed up and began providing work for their artisan products. Genesis’ mission is helping to create better opportunities for indigenous families at home instead of forcing them to immigrate to the United States. As a result, our work is helping to create a solution for the U.S. immigration issues.
How did you come up with the name?
‘Genesis’ came to mind because of its definition. It is the ‘beginning’ and it has been for many people.
Where are your products sold? Are they sold in stores?
Genesis Fair Trade products are sold online at www.genesisfairtrade.com and at local southern California trade shows, vendor events, farmers markets, and select boutiques. We also have availability for wholesale purchases.
What is your favorite part about running Genesis Fair Trade?
Giving back to the communities we serve. We are able to provide stable incomes and self-sufficiency to people in otherwise impoverished areas. Working with local non-profits in each area, we have been able to provide beds to the elderly, water to those in need and education to young girls living in indigenous communities. Then there is the learning about the ancient cultures that I am able to sit and learn from. These Maya, Inca, Zapotec and Otomi have existed for thousands of years. There has been so much they have shared with me. I have developed a deep respect and admiration for them.
What is your least favorite part about running Genesis Fair Trade?
Having limitations on the artisans and indigenous communities we work with. We would really love to expand our reach and showcase more artisans. However, since I am traveling to the areas to purchase most of the products, we are limited on the number of communities I am visiting. We have faith that the communities we can help will continue to expand as we grow as a company.
Is there a favorite product?
Currently, one of my favorites is our prosperity candles. They showcase how we collaborate with multiple communities through one product. The colorful candle glass holders are made in Oaxaca, Mexico by local Zapotec artisans who were taught the artistry of glass blowing. These Zapotec artisans use recycled glass found in landfills, grind it into sand, and melt it down using a furnace at a slow controlled rate. Even the oil they use to heat the furnace is recycled cooking oil from restaurants in Oaxaca. From there, the glass holder is sent to Massachusetts. Here the all- natural soy-based candle is hand poured by Myanmar women refugees at a company helping refugees create a brighter future in the U.S. It really shows how one product can sustainably be made.
You give back with each purchase, can you tell us about that?
Yes! Every time you buy from Genesis, you’re not only receiving an environmentally-friendly work of art, you’re also supporting the artisans that created it. All net profits along with mypersonal assets are funneled back into underdeveloped regions of the world through programs designed to directly meet the needs and enhance the lives of these talented individuals and theirfamilies. We reinvest net profits to artisans’ communities through non-profits and Non- Government Organizations (NGOs). Donations help each community by reinvesting in clean water, providing educational scholarships, learning subsistence agriculture, and helping the elderly community with medical and other expenses. Which is why our slogan is Partners in Empowerment.
How do you spread the word about your company?
Currently, we are using online advertising, social media, our blog, influencers and the vendor events/markets we participate in to get the word out! There is a strong community of Fair Trade and sustainability in San Diego and this community has helped spread the word.
Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
Follow your passion
Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying?
“Invest in women, invest in the world”
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Our mission is to help women artisans from indigenous communities, but we also strive to follow this in our local San Diego office. The environment we have created has women helping women. By hiring women as our interns and staff it has made a huge difference in building Genesis Fair Trade.