“I’m just a woman trying to help other women.” – Edna Ruth Byler Edna Ruth
A simple idea, a single action has the power to bring about monumental change. For our founder, Edna Ruth Byler, that single action was a humble, unassuming one taken more than 70 years ago.
Byler bought hand-embroidered textiles from women who didn’t have have access to a market in which to sell them. She paid a fair price for them, took them home, and sold them to friends and neighbors on their behalf.
What started as one woman selling textiles from the trunk of her car and telling the stories of artisans who made them, grew into lasting partnerships and a global fair trade movement.
As a volunteer living in Akron, Pennsylvania in the 1940s, Edna Ruth Byler became known in the Mennonite community for her warm hospitality, creative spirit, and cinnamon rolls.
In 1946, when Byler traveled with her husband to Puerto Rico, she met women in La Plata Valley who were struggling to feed their children. Having lived through challenges during the Depression, she knew the face of economic hardship. She also knew the importance of dignity and people wanting a way to help themselves.
Byler saw the pieces of fine embroidery the skilled women of La Plata created and was moved to do something. With no clear plan but a sense of purpose, Byler paid the women for the pieces, brought them home, and began to sell them to people she knew. She reinvested the earnings to buy more from the women. A cycle began.
Seeing the long-term value that sustainable income opportunities bring to impoverished communities, Mennonite Central Committee, an aid and relief agency, supported Byler’s efforts and facilitated international trips to expand the endeavor.
By the 1950s, Byler was driving her Chevy II packed with global needlework and handcrafted wares to women’s sewing circles and parties of interested folks across the country. She always shared the stories of the makers, describing how each purchase meant that a woman gained economic independence and a chance to give her family a brighter future.
Over the decades, relationships grew to include artisans in more than 30 developing countries. Selling venues expanded into a network of retail stores. Awareness around inequity in international trade and marginalized communities prompted the founding of the World Fair Trade Organization.
Edna Ruth Byler’s single gesture, multiplied by the actions of countless others, carries tangible impact across ten thousand villages today.
MEANINGFUL WORK THAT PUTS PEOPLE AND PLANET FIRST
We create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.
Guided by our three core values, we envision a day when all artisans in developing countries will earn a fair wage, be treated with dignity and respect and be able to live a life of quality. Together, everyone thrives.
BECOME PART OF THE STORY
Our small teams have big dreams.
We know that when people have access to dependable and fair income, they have the opportunity to rise. When people can plan for their future, put food on the table, afford education, build sturdy homes and have access to medical care, entire communities flourish.
We inspire change.
As a fair-trade pioneer, we address global economic injustice by partnering with artisans and investing in their futures. The maker-to-market movement highlights the need for change and shows how an audacious business model can be successful but also put people first.
Do work that matters.
When strong talent, diverse perspectives and individual gifts collide, we can achieve big dreams.
When we create and innovate together, we can inspire local and global change.
All media inquiries contact Rachel.Lewis@tenthousandvillages.com. Find up-to-date press releases below.
PRESS RELEASE LIBRARY
Accompany, NBC Universal Collaborate on First Ever Mission-Driven Capsule Collection in Partnership with a Film Franchise, Jurassic World
4-14-2022 Former Head of Innovation for GIANT Picked to Lead Ten Thousand Villages as New CEO
Accompany, NBC Universal Collaborate on First Ever Mission-Driven Capsule Collection in Partnership with a Film Franchise, Jurassic World
NEW YORK, May 20, 2022 – This summer, humans and dinosaurs will learn to coexist in Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment's Jurassic World Dominion, and a new collection, Jurassic World x Accompany, takes inspiration from this theme. Launching in May, the first-of-its-kind licensed product line inspired by the blockbuster film franchise will feature mission-driven, fair trade homewares and accessories for adults and children, all handcrafted by artisan non-profits in India and Nepal.
Accompany, a leader in socially impactful, design-driven commerce, hopes to appeal to Jurassic World fans and conscious shoppers alike with a product line that empowers marginalized artisan communities and advances their socioeconomic status while preserving the legacy of their cultures and crafts. The playful yet sophisticated collection celebrates traditional techniques from wood carving to hand weaving and includes Jurassic World-inspired home, living, and kitchenware as well as children’s items for mealtime, movie nights, bath time, picnics, and summer BBQs. While some of the Jurassic World influence is unmistakable—think cotton pillows hand-printed with the film’s iconic T. rex skeleton, children’s terry cloth towels featuring a dinosaur hood and tail, and a wooden dining plate in the shape of a T. rex footprint—other items in the collection take a more design-driven approach, evoking the Jurassic era in a more nuanced, elevated way. Tote bags feature abstract dinosaur texture and teeth prints, and earthy tie-dye pillows showcase spike-like patterns.
The Jurassic World x Accompany collection, which ranges from $12.99 to $100 USD, will be sold at AccompanyUs.com and at exclusive retail launch partner Ten Thousand Villages, a nonprofit fair trade organization that markets ethically made, handcrafted products made by artisans in over 25 countries that experience economic disempowerment and marginalization. Ten Thousand Villages will offer the collection across 49 stores in the U.S. and on TenThousandVillages.com.
Jurassic World Dominion, the sixth installment in the Jurassic World franchise and the third film in the trilogy, explores themes of coexistence and legacy. To that end, the Jurassic World x Accompany collection proves to be a natural fit. Crafted using traditional techniques, each piece in the collection not only benefits artisan communities, but also contributes to a brighter, more positive shared legacy on Earth.
“Inspired by the theme of coexistence, Jurassic World and Accompany are releasing a first-of-its-kind collection that celebrates the traditional crafts of local artisans around the world. This unique and beautiful line showcases the wonder and awe of Jurassic World in a curated homewares collection,” said Marc Low, senior vice president and general manager, global lifestyle products for Universal Brand Development. “Together, with Ten Thousand Villages, we’re highlighting the beauty and legacy of our shared past and support efforts for a positive future.”
Additionally, drawing on Jurassic World’s feminist themes of trailblazing women in STEM, the Jurassic World x Accompany collection works to protect and empower women’s rights in underserved communities around the world. Accompany, in partnership with Ten Thousand Villages – a leader in the global fair-trade movement, has connected with artisans through two nonprofit fair trade networks: Sasha, which supports more than 5,000 skilled artisans in India, over 70% of whom are women; and Nepal’s Finest, which works to advance the socioeconomic status of thousands of marginalized craftspeople and their families across Nepal.
With its handcrafted, impactful Jurassic World merchandise, Accompany thinks the collection will spark a different approach to branded licensed product, first in the Entertainment vertical but hopefully beyond. Values-based shopping is more relevant than ever—consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, champion, and defend companies with a strong purpose, according to The 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose study, commissioned by Zeno Group, which surveyed 8,000 global consumers and evaluated over 75 companies and brands. Moreover, Accompany hopes to offer a new approach to licensed movie merchandise – thematically linking a social impact strategy to a film’s story, making the movie’s meaning tangible in a new, lasting way.
“We are so grateful to Universal and Amblin for collaborating with us on this pioneering collection. At Accompany, we see a huge opportunity to make a positive social impact on disempowered communities and non-profits worldwide through mission-driven merchandising. By harnessing the powerful pull of an Entertainment property like the Jurassic World franchise, and connecting it, the demand for purposeful, artisan goods in the home décor, fashion and gifting categories, we believe we can spark a new, meaningful era in licensed consumer goods. With our team’s branded design and storytelling expertise at our affiliated creative agency, Accompany Creative, we were able to translate the core DNA and spirit of Jurassic World into the design language of artisan craft and purposeful lens of community empowerment.” Jason Keehn, Founder of Accompany.
“We are thrilled to partner with Accompany and Universal for this Jurassic World collection. Ten Thousand Villages just celebrated 75 years and is a proud co-founding member of the Fair Trade Federation and World Fair Trade Organization. We partner with 20,000 makers, 60% of whom are women. With $99 million in international artisan investments over the last 16 years, we are confident that the Jurassic World X Accompany collection will continue to highlight the incredible impact of the maker-to-market movement that ignites social change and breaks the cycle of generational poverty, bettering the world for us all.” Lauren Wennell, Brand and Marketing Director Ten Thousand Villages.
Accompany’s sister creative agency, Accompany Creative, also developed the campaign for the collection, which includes storytelling that brings its artistry & product value to life. Planned strategy includes videos featuring Indian and Nepalese artisans demonstrating the ancient techniques used to create the product line, underscoring the ways in which these communities are able to thrive economically while preserving their arts and skills. To further link the Jurassic brand with the meaningful message, footage from the social impact content takes cues from the Jurassic films, including the iconic T. rex stomp that is now mimicked by the percussive hits of the handcrafted process; the renowned Jurassic theme song by John Williams recreated with instruments local to the culture and sounds captured in the artisan workshops; and overall visual references that evoke a wild world, a sense of adventure, and optimistic wonder.
The first drop hits shelves this May 20, just in time for dinosaur-loving fans to see Jurassic World Dominion, which opens in theaters on June 10, 2022.
About Ten Thousand Villages:
As a global maker‐to‐market movement, Ten Thousand Villages connects artisans in developing countries with conscious shoppers in the United States by offering ethically sourced gifts, home wares and fashion accessories crafted by hand. Every product and donation generates sustainable income — and impact — for 20,000 makers in 25 countries who earn a fair, living wage in safe working conditions. That means families are able to build homes and save for the future, their children stay healthy and go to school, and their communities develop and thrive. Partnering with people often excluded from the marketplace, particularly women, Ten Thousand Villages shares the craft, culture and stories of makers through a network of 51 branded stores and 300‐plus retail partners, as well as an e‐commerce shop. As a pioneer of fair trade, Ten Thousand Villages does business differently, putting people and planet first — since 1946.
Rachel Lewis, VP of Sales & Marketing, Ten Thousand Villages
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