Selling Affordable Handmade Jewelry While Helping Others Gain Financial Independence


An Interview with Patricia Pinkney from Pangea Collection

Selling affordable handmade jewelry through the Fair Trade market is a great opportunity to support others in gaining financial independence and securing quality of life.

Patricia Pinkney from Pangea Collection realized the joy that comes from helping others while supporting their beautiful and affordable handmade jewelry and artisan crafts. Read her interview to learn more about her journey into the exciting world of Fair Trade Market.

What got you started promoting and selling Fair Trade affordable handmade jewelry?

Before I started Pangea Collection I was working as an International Brand Director based in Paris, France. I traveled a lot during my two years abroad and when I would travel for business, I would always make sure that I had time to walk the streets, see the people, local culture and visit the markets.

I would always bring home a memory of the places I visited, usually a piece of jewellery. My friends would ask where I got it and I would proudly tell them the story of the piece, it’s origin and the artisan who handcrafted it. I loved that.

When you travel you realize that there are many people struggling to make a living; to feed, cloth and shelter their families. They work hard but it is still difficult to support themselves and their families. When I came back home I wanted to do my small part to help enable artisans around the world, achieve the art of self reliance.

What I discovered in my travels is how much beauty there is in the world. The craft work of some cultures dates back centuries providing a market for these crafts helps to preserve these traditional techniques.

Can you please give us an explanation of how selling affordable handmade jewelry in the Fair Trade market works and how it benefits other people?

Fair Trade is based on 10 principles. Essentially, workers are paid a fair price/wage and are provided with good working conditions and there is no child labor. The best place to see the 10 principals fully explained it at WFTO.

How do you select the artisans that you feature in your website? what are some of the characteristics of the jewelry you select?

There are two criteria for artisan and jewellery selection.

First the jewellery must be something that a customer would want to buy, it has to be attractive. Fair trade is not a hand out, it ensures that artisans are paid fairly for what they produce, that they are not exploited. These fair trade artisans are business people so it is important for them to produce products that the market desires.

The vast majority of people do not buy something solely because it is fair trade. They buy because they like something and they feel good about making their purchases count.

The second main criteria is the organization or the artisan. Do they follow fair trade principles? What is their situation? Can our purchases of their products make a difference, no matter how small.

Can you share some of your travel experiences and how they have impacted you personally?

As I was mentioning at the beginning, I take great pleasure in traveling and exploring different cultures. One thing I realized when I traveled is that money truly does not make you happy. I traveled to some of the poorest countries in the world and some of the people there are much happier with very little than a lot of North Americans are with their homes full of stuff that they neither need nor use.

I remember one specific trip to Bangkok, Thailand, I was shopping in the markets and I wanted to purchase a handmade money purse. It is easy to get caught up in price negotiation in the markets, it is expected to negotiate.

I found a purse I wanted and was negotiating with the artisan when suddenly I realized how ridiculous it was to be negotiating over a small amount. While it was a very small to me it was significant to him. He had agreed to my price and I just thought, this is wrong and I paid the full amount.

He was so happy and I felt terrible for having put him through the negotiation in the first place. After that, I realized I was only going to buy what I loved and was a fair price. I would give the artisans the dignity that they deserve and pay fairly for their work.

In Thailand and many other countries, you see a lot of poverty and the result of it is very difficult to see. People are forced to do things that they would not otherwise do, just to survive. It makes you realize the privileges we have as North Americans and makes me not want to take that for granted and to do my small part to make a difference in the lives of others.

Thank you Patricia for such an inspirational and candid interview. It is a pleasure knowing that people are making a decent living by selling affordable handmade jewelry.