Fair Trade Décor proud to be part of trade federation protecting artisans

By Kristina Houck

From hand-woven baskets to handmade soap, every item in Del Mar’s Fair Trade Décor has a story.

In an effort to share those stories with as many people as possible, owners Betsy and Jude Paganelli of Carmel Valley opened their shop a year and a half ago at 1412 Camino del Mar in Del Mar.

“It’s like a store, museum and a library,” said Betsy, a former special-needs elementary school teacher in Solana Beach. “I just enjoy being around all of these beautiful, handmade products and learning the stories behind them ...”

“... and sharing the stories with people,” finished Jude, a biomedical engineer.

Adhering to fair trade principles such as fair pay, safe working conditions and eco-friendliness, the husband-and-wife duo previously sold fair trade products at farmers markets for two years. Happy with the response from customers, the couple opened their shop, which Betsy noted is San Diego’s first 100 percent fair trade store.

About six months after opening its doors, Fair Trade Décor became the first retail store in the county to receive membership in the Fair Trade Federation, a trade association that strengthens and promotes North American organizations fully committed to fair trade.

“I wanted to make sure the artisans are really getting paid fair wages,” Betsy said. “I can’t travel to all those countries and meet the artisans face to face, so I need an organization to help me.”

“It also tells the customer what we stand for,” added Jude. “It validates what fair trade means to us.”

From artwork to pillows, Fair Trade Décor now sells items from 43 countries. The couple choose the products they sell by purchasing online and visiting international trade shows.

“There’s a shortage of fair trade retail in the U.S.,” Jude said. “Fair trade doesn’t benefit the artists if there’s no place to sell the product.”

Added Betsy, “It’s about giving people an opportunity to help themselves through their crafts.”

With Fair Trade Month around the corner, Del Mar’s Fair Trade Décor has scheduled a number of free events for October.

Fair Trade Décor hosts a drum circle from 7-9 p.m. every first and third Sunday. Led by João Vincient Lewis, director of Hands On World Music and leader of the Carlsbad Beach Drum Circle, this month’s drum circle takes place Oct. 5 and 19.

Other events include an

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painting demonstration featuring two painters from Oaxaca, Mexico, from noon to 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3 and Saturday, Oct. 4. The San Diego-based Paul Cannon Band will visit the shop from 7-9 p.m. Oct. 23. And local resident Emily Moberly will stop by from 1-2:30 p.m. Oct. 26. Moberly is the founder of Traveling Stories, a nonprofit that promotes literacy.

“It’s in celebration of fair trade and just being a part of the greater community,” said Betsy, adding that the store’s motto is to “shop locally and help globally.”

“The local residents have been very supportive of the shop and fair trade,” Jude said. “They’ve welcomed us into the community.”

For more about Fair Trade Décor, visit www.fairtradedecor.com.

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