About Our Partners - Thistle Farms

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About Our Partners

United States

Gifts for the Journey 
Gifts for the Journey, a ministry of Franciscan Peacemakers, is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Gifts for the Journey works with the Clare Community which is a 2-year spiritually based program that  provides housing rent free to women seeking to leave prostitution and alcohol/drug abuse behind. The vision of Clare Community is that of women growing individually and collectively, while living in community. To coincide with the development of Clare Community , Gifts for the Journey, our social enterprise provides opportunities for the women of Clare Community. At Gifts for the Journey, the women of Clare Community and other Franciscan Peacemaker participants will create bar soaps as well as bath and body products that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. Purchases of Gifts for the Journey products directly benefit the women by whom they were made. While working at Gifts for the Journey, women learn skills in manufacturing, packaging, marketing and sales, and administration. It is a supportive workplace where women acquire the skills they need to earn a living wage.


Moringa Madres 
Thistle Farms’ collaboration with the “Moringa Madres” of Juan Cosala, Mexico brings healing to women of the two social enterprises. These women of Mexico grow and harvest Moringa tea leaves, and Thistle Farms purchases the leaves so that meaningful work and income can be provided for impoverished women in that region. T he Moringa Madres (Spanish for mothers) are then able to make a living and support their families.


Melange Collection
It’s the commitment to upholding fair trade practices that makes Mèlange Collection stand apart. In small workshops around the globe, skilled artisans bring their whimsical designs to life.  They have been working  the same artisan groups for over 10 years and have developed long-term, committed partnerships that help promote sustainable income, environmental awareness and greater economic equality.  They pay fair prices in the local context, offer fair credit terms and prompt payment; they promote safe and healthy workplaces and they respect cultural diversity.


Beljoy is a distinct line of handcrafted jewelry produced in Haiti by local artisans. Beljoy offers women in Haiti the opportunity to earn a dignified and consistent wage through the art of jewelry making. By teaching this trade and paying a superior wage, they hope to encourage women and empower them to provide for their families.


Sibimbe is a sewing cooperative of four women in Ecuador making backpacks, cell phone cases, messenger bags, and make-up cases. St. Ann’s Episcopal Church from Nashville has been visiting the community for over a decade. 


The Monkey Project
The Monkey Project believes that love is the most powerful force in the world, and as a social enterprise they express that love through their commitment to fair-trade business practices. They provide work to talented Peruvian women who hand-crochet each of our lovable sock monkeys while also, educating the younger generation on social issues and the concept of giving-back. 


The Welcome Project
Thistle Farms has partnered with  I AM YOU and  Lighthouse Relief to help women refugees gain economic freedom. The welcome mats are woven from the fabric of the life jackets worn by the refugees on their journey to Greece.  This project serves as a symbol of acceptance and solidarity with refugees. Thank you for joining us in the belief that love is the most powerful force for change in the world. Becca Stevens and a small group from Thistle Farms will be traveling to Greece in April where they will work with the women in the refugee camps. The group hopes to return with finished products (which may look slightly different than the photo displayed) to be shipped out in the beginning of May. 


Ikirezi Natural Products is a community-interest business that partners with small associations/cooperatives of farmers in Rwanda to produce high quality geranium oil for local and international markets. Their vision is to be a leading supplier of essential oils and other natural plant products that maximizes profits to small farmers, holistically transforms communities, and strengthens agribusiness in Rwanda. Benefiting from the country’s excellent growing conditions, Ikirezi mobilizes and trains farmers to grow healthy plants in Rwanda’s central and northern highlands. Ikirezi then purchases the harvested plant materials, distills the essential oil, and markets the finished product. Ikirezi primarily works with widows and orphans in a holistic effort to restore their dignity, improve their livelihoods, and rebuild their communities.


LWALA Community Alliance
LWALA Community Alliance works with New Visions Women’s Sewing Cooperative of 9 women in Kenya to provide the women a sustainable living. Lwala is a community initiative focusing on health, education, and economic sustainability in a Kenyan village. They provides healthcare through their clinic, school scholarships for girls, and job training through sewing and farming.


Sustainable Threads
Sustainable Threads was born from a collective professional experience and personal interest in rural development, entrepreneurship and social justice. Among the various options, they chose to leverage their relationships in the development sector and start a fair trade wholesale enterprise. Sustainable Threads currently works with over 10 artisan groups in India, with the goal of long term, deep partnerships. Their focus is on the people, not just the product. This model requires a significant investment in design and product development, factoring in the skill sets of each community.

Swathi's Handmade
Swathi's Handmade is a brand striving to preserve the handicraft traditions around the world. India, Mexico and some other Asian countries have millions of handcrafts men but handmade products are not affordable to an average consumer. Moreover some handicraft traditions are becoming extinct. One of the major reasons for this is that the artisans do not have access to big markets and their products are not equipped with brand equity. Swathi's Handmade is working with artisan groups to help them access good markets and empower their products with brand equity.

Mata Traders
Since 2007, Mata Traders has sought to “fashion a better world” by creating unique designs that celebrate a woman’s originality and empower her to use her dollar for change. They merge uncommonly vibrant style with fair trade practices to make an impact on global poverty and provide sustainable income to artisans in India and Nepal.

Freeset Fabrics is weaving freedom into the lives of the women of West Bengal and their communities. Freeset provides women at risk of being forced into roles that exploit and oppress them with an opportunity for fairly-paid employment and training in the production of beautiful hand-woven scarves. So much more than a length of woven fabric, their core collection is designed to enhance contemporary classic style and complement many occasions, telling a story of a journey to freedom.

Purpose Jewelry
PURPOSE Jewelry is a social enterprise that provides professional opportunities to young women rescued from sex trafficking.  There are over 20 million people living in slavery in the world today. They believe every person deserves to live free. Through PURPOSE Jewelry, YOU are able to give freedom to rescued young women around the world.  The art of jewelry making paired with holistic care ensures every artisan receives freedom and hope for the future. Holistic care is provided through our non-profit, International Sanctuary, and includes education, healthcare, and counseling. Our program provides every artisan with the life skills and opportunities to succeed.

Anchal’s co-founders met at the Rhode Island School of Design during a graduate seminar that explored design in the developing world. Inspired by the shared belief that design can be a catalyst for social and environmental innovation, the four women traveled to India and met with local leader, Urmi Basu of the New Light Foundation. It was here in the narrow alleyways of the Kalighat red light district, Urmi shared the extreme oppression women faced and the tangible void in economic alternatives available to this marginalized community. Shortly following the class trip to India, the co-founders raised $400 by selling handmade notebooks and notecards. These humble beginnings facilitated the purchase of a sewing machine, sewing instruction, materials, and a stipend for the artisans. During 2010, Anchal officially received 501(c)3 non-profit status in the United States and expanded the project by partnering with a second NGO, Vatsalya, in Ajmer, India.

Hands Producing Hope
Hands Producing Hope's mission is to provide the economic, educational, and spiritual resources necessary to empower remote communities to rise above poverty. Their vision is to see all people (regardless of gender, ethnicity, or geographical location) be afforded opportunities to have dignified and respectable work, and to provide for their families and flourish in their communities. They want to see a universal growth in an understanding of the impact an individual can make with their time, resources, and talents. They work with artisans in Rwanda and Costa Rica.