Our Friend, Danny Seo

Brands that devote themselves to sourcing natural ingredients and sustainable materials are often overlooked in favor of the big name brands, largely due to the temptation of low prices. But the tides are turning, and consumers are becoming increasingly more conscious of where and how their products are sourced. They are even willing to pay more for products that are safe and sustainable.

Danny Seo visited Ten Thousand Villages home office to select gifts to feature in his December 2016 Magazine, "Naturally, Danny Seo".

From a very young age, Danny Seo seemed to have a special connection with nature, as most children do. What made him different, though, was that he transformed this connection into action—realizing the importance of preserving and celebrating the environment through educating the people around him and incorporating responsible choices into his everyday life.

When he was just 12, he formed a group that would later evolve into the largest teenage activist charity in the country, all starting with a goal to “save the planet and celebrate all that is beautiful about it.” Those words so neatly sum up something that should be a common goal to anyone living on Earth. It should be obvious for all our choices to go back to that simple philosophy, but it’s not.

Through trying to devise easy solutions to problems such as flammable furniture and perishable shampoo, flame-retardants and preservatives have found their way into our beds and onto our heads. While the importance of organic foods is finally showing results in markets, bath and beauty products have lagged behind, making it a great place to focus the spotlight and get people talking about brands that are clean and green—good for the body and for the earth. This is just one area that Danny addresses in his magazine, Naturally. While his career spans many avenues and topics, he largely delivers his message of natural living by seeking and showcasing people who embrace nature in their lives every day. Not as a novelty, but a way of being.

Danny Seo visited Ten Thousand Villages home office to select gifts to feature in his December 2016 Magazine, "Naturally, Danny Seo".

Danny understands that living naturally means different things to different people. To some, it means devoting a career to an organic winery. To others, it might be designing marketing packaging for a line of organic products, or even just being conscious of what kinds of food are in the house. It’s not the same for everyone, so Danny makes sure to find a mix of stories, some to serve the fantasy of a reader (wouldn’t it be nice to live on an organic vineyard!), as well as provide practical advice and easy ways to start down the path of natural living (like how to use coconut oil).

We had the pleasure of meeting Danny, who expressed an interest in our commitment to minimizing our carbon footprint through use of recycled, natural and sustainable materials. One principle of fair trade is environmental responsibility, so it’s something that we take (and always have taken) seriously. From repurposed bike chains to reimagined bomb casings, Ten Thousand Villages gets inspired by watching common materials transform into something different and new. On the other side of the spectrum, there’s a certain beauty to preserving the integrity of what nature has made. Mango wood, jute, clay, and capiz are just a few of the natural materials that makers frequently work with.

Danny visited our home office in Akron to choose products to feature for his magazine.

Danny Seo visited Ten Thousand Villages home office to select gifts to feature in his December 2016 Magazine, "Naturally, Danny Seo".

We were beyond thrilled that Danny chose our Bombshell Ring to be featured in his most recent edition of Naturally magazine.  This ring demonstrates just how an unconventional, repurposed material can take on new beauty, when imagined with a new design. Delicate and understated, the bombshell ring captures the trend of shiny gold, while maintaining a simple, approachable look. And because this ring is crafted from genuine bomb casings, found scattered in the fields of Cambodia, it holds a deeper meaning that brings hope to makers in and around Phnom Penh, while clearing the environment of these wartime remnants.

Khmer for “design,” the Rajana artisan group works with makers to create fashionable jewelry pieces, while preserving the traditional crafting techniques of the region that was in danger of being lost in the wars. This commitment to rebuild and reuse, for the benefit of people and nature alike, falls in line with the philosophy that Danny has worked hard to share through his work in food, beauty, travel, home and entertaining.

Danny Seo visited Ten Thousand Villages home office to select gifts to feature in his December 2016 Magazine, "Naturally, Danny Seo".

From Danny Seo, in his own words:

“One of the things that attracted me to Ten Thousand Villages is the use of time-tested, all-natural materials. I have a resourceful mantra that I like to live by and I think it’s evident when you look at the products artisans create. Nothing is wasted: horn for picture frames, dried grasses for baskets, newspaper decoupaged into handmade decorative objects.

[The Brass Bombshell Ring] is a beautiful marriage and representation of what I think makes Ten Thousand Villages unique. First, it’s a gorgeous ring. And at the end of the day, if we’re going to part with our hard-earned dollars, you want something that—well—you actually covet. But then you find out the story about where the raw material comes from, how it’s been repurposed and re-made by artisans, and how it helps people and takes something that was so awful and is made into something so beautiful.

Would you rather have a ring that’s just some ring… or a ring that’s made from decommissioned bomb casings that helps people celebrate a craft and make a fair wage? I think the answer is pretty obvious.”

– Danny Seo

He chose several other items in addition to the bombshell ring to feature in his magazine.  Can you guess what they might be? We’re not going to spoil it for you. To find out, you’ll have to check out the Winter 2015 issue of Naturally! Available in participating Ten Thousand Villages stores starting Thursday, December 3.

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Jessica Wieser

A previous copywriter for Ten Thousand Villages, Jess is fond of campfires, rainy days and dark chocolate. She enjoys filling her house with furry and not-so-furry critters (currently counting two rats, one puppy and a tortoise). With a secret love for punk rock and horror film, she spends her free time writing weird poems, drinking tea, and dancing badly to old songs.

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