Getting close to this year’s event got me thinking about some businesses in our area who build giving and doing into the foundation of what they do, from helping people right here in Tennessee to helping people thousands of miles of way. While you give some thought to how you might participate in The Big Payback, check out four local businesses who make giving back a day-to-day affair:
What you’re first struck by from Germantown’s Nisolo is quality design and craftsmanship — their shoes, boots and accessories look timeless and hold up accordingly. But there’s more behind how they do what they do that’s worth knowing. Founder and CEO Patrick Woodyard was inspired to start the company while living and working in Trujillo, Peru, and seeing talented shoemakers struggling to make fair wages and find safe working conditions. Today, Nisolo employs more than 50 of those craftspeople in Peru, offering training, above fair-trade wages and improved living conditions. And back here in Nashville, you can see the marks of that talent first hand, in everything from men’s chukka boots to women’s sandals.
Nashville’s Thistle Farms produces natural bath and body products — from shower gels to bug repellant — that you’ll feel good about using and giving, not just because of the great products themselves. The company trains and employs residents and graduates of Magdalene, a program and home for women who’ve survived addiction, prostitution and homelessness. Through Thistle Farms, those women not only find a rewarding job, but freedom, independence, opportunity and a bright future. The organization opened Thistle Stop Cafe in 2013 too, bringing coffee, tea, sandwiches and more to West Nashville (5128 Charlotte Pike) and more opportunity to the women of Magdalene.
fashionABLE’s products — from scarves to bags and totes and jewelry — are handmade and stylish, befitting the name. But again, how they’re handmade is important to know here. The company (which recently moved to East Nashville from 12 South) focuses on building sustainable business for women in Africa, and in the process of building up fashionABLE, they’ve established business cooperatives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Nairobi, Kenya, training and employing women there — many of whom are sex industry survivors — with fair wages and hiring practices.
There have been some understandable concerns raised as synthetic dyes became the norm in the fashion industry, about pollutants in wastewater from companies using those dyes to toxins and carcinogens and other dangers workers are exposed to when creating dyes. Those concerns are what prompted founder and CEO Sarah Bellos to create Stony Creek Colors and develop new ways to manufacture bio-based dyes. The company partners with farms, mills and brands to make and use dyes based on sustainable natural indigo, working toward a goal of “healing the environment, protecting farmland, bringing economic security to family farmers, and improving health for everyone.”
by TJ AndersonAround Record Store Day this year, I did a little shoppi
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