Global Girlfriend

Stacey Edgar didn’t intend to launch a women’s Fair Trade boutique. “I had no idea how to start a business,” admits Edgar, the founder and president of Global Girlfriend.

But in early 2003, Edgar’s mother-in-law was working at the UN World Food Program, and her overseas site visits sparked something in Edgar. Her mother-in-law would return from abroad with beautiful, handmade souvenirs for her, full of stories of the impoverished women trying to sell their goods in developing countries like Afghanistan.

Around the same time, Stacey had begun selling Earth-friendly body care products at house parties from The Body Shop, a store dedicated to fostering social and environmental change.

“I sold about 10,000 dollars worth of lotion at home parties in one month,” she says. “That was crazy.”

The combination of her mother-in-law’s visits, the Body Shop sales, and Stacey’s own background in social work suddenly fell into place. She realized that people—women especially—wanted to buy products that had the added value of doing good in the world. And with that came Global Girlfriend—a Fair Trade boutique of handmade jewelry, handbags, gifts, and apparel from around the world.

Everything you can purchase at Global Girlfriend is made by and directly benefits US women’s nonprofit programs and women’s cooperatives in 13 countries worldwide. Beautiful handmade paper from Nepal provides an income for survivors of sex trafficking, while intricate pairs of recycled glass earrings are created by women in Bangladesh, whose work is often the main source of income for their families. Clothing varies from yoga pants made by women in southern India to mohair scarves from South Africa to ponchos handcrafted in Brazil.

The 30 cooperatives that Global Girlfriend sources from are all in the Fair Trade system, meaning that worker-owners earn a living wage they set themselves, work in safe and healthy conditions, and have access to technical assistance and education opportunities to improve their businesses, lives, and communities.

Global Girlfriend also pays a 50 percent deposit before the products are even made, to support the cooperatives throughout the entire production cycle. Global Girlfriend sources from women’s Fair Trade cooperatives, because when women are given the economic opportunity, Edgar says, they make good choices for their families, health, and education. In fact, at a gathering of the Commission on the Status of Women in March of 2007, a senior United Nations officer said empowering women is key in the fight against poverty, discrimination, educational gaps, and disease.

“It’s very important to support women who are working on their own poverty solutions,” says Edgar. —Alissa Dos Santos