7 read-a-long: clothing as symbol

From yesterday’s post:

Weโ€™re going to discuss the rule-breaking necklaces Jen wore on pages 60-61. Both of them meant something super-special and actually drew her closer to God and loving the poor.

For as much as I donโ€™t love clothes, I get super tickled by clothing/accessories for a cause. Bags made by poor Ugandan mothers, necklaces made by former prostitutes in Cambodia, t-shirts about ending slavery and caring for orphans.

I’ll share some of my favorites in the comments as I have time tomorrow.

What are some of your favorite t-shirts/bags/jewelry/etc that help support a worthy cause? Give us some links!

31 thoughts on “7 read-a-long: clothing as symbol

  1. Jess Carpenter

    I have a lot of friends who are crafts/artisans & tons of their sales are going to our adoption fund right now.
    My sister made head bands for babies/moms that made us over $800 for our adoption.
    I make wire bird’s nest necklaces, coasters, etc.
    I also have an account with 147 Million Orphans that goes to them & to me for our adoption.
    I also have friends ordering coffee from Just Love Coffee that goes to support fair trade & Uganda & then also to our adoption. It has been fascinating getting into this realm.
    My friend Hilary sells for Noonday, they have artisans around the world they sell for.

  2. Pingback: Marla Taviano ยป 7 read-a-long: clothing as symbol | Clothing & Accessories

  3. Kelly S

    OneMangoTree.com – women’s clothing and bags

    SsekoDesigns.com – the COOLEST sandals from Uganda (you can do the straps a bunch of different ways and use different straps on the same base. So, this would potentially help with the whole declutter/excess issue, because a person could just own pair of sandals, then)

    TenThousandVillages.com – lots of gift items from many different organizations and causes (not all Christian though)

    KrochetKids.org – knit and crocheted hats (also, I love http://goodfellowfamily.blogspot.com/ – the blog of a family who has been involved in starting up their work in Peru)

    I have a Pinterest board with some other options, but I haven’t tried them – if you click on my name “Kelly S” it should take you there, I think. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not trying to be a plug to follow it… just some additional options I’ve run across. I think I’ll be adding a few more based on the comments here, too!

  4. ~Suzanne


    I love, LOVE the beautiful purses, bags, and aprons from Timbali Crafts!! And now that I have had the privilige of meeting many of these hard working women and have seen the hope and difference each purchase makes…I love them even more! Timbali is an income generating project for women in Swaziland, Africa and the beautiful products are well made and afforadable ($5-$25).

    Great Mother’s Day or teacher gift ideas:)

    1. Amy

      Suzanne!!! So glad you posted Timbali! I should have known you were a Marla follower as well! Love you and thanks for all you do for the women and children of Swaziland. (when ya coming back?)

  5. Marla Taviano

    These are so great! I’ve been running around all day and about to head out again, so I’ll catch up later. Maybe I can do a post with all these links so they’ll be in one place. Thank you, friends!

  6. John McCollum

    I buy all of my dress shirts and some of my shoes directly from Cambodian craftspeople. Aside from the fact that the prices are amazing — $12 for a custom-tailored shirt — the money goes to the Cambodians running the business rather than to international conglomerates. So, I like that.

  7. Andrea

    Oooh! I love that now I’m getting all kinds of links and ideas for other places to get things. I used to purchase from Ten Thousand Villages and other stores like that but tend toward smaller and direct groups now. There were several small organizations and individuals I helped out with when I went to Kenya that my who is living there advertises for. Most of this is just word of mouth, emails, Facebook but she has a few links to jewelry and bags they have made before on her blog http://kbritten.wordpress.com/ (section on the right for Kenyan artisans) The artists are in Kibera. I also purchase bags from kangas and paperbead necklaces from a woman who runs a hope centre for women affected by HIV (mostly widowed) to teach them sewing skills and they offer other classes for them. They do not have the capability to advertise and get their name out so I just order items over email. I found this to be true of so many I met there. They have skills and abilities to make things but no real way to advertise their work.

  8. Angela Lambright

    I recently bought a bookmark, a keychin made of coconut in the shape a starfish, an amethyst chip bracelet,and a beautiful pair of earrings from http://www.warinternational.org. Women At Risk International is an organization with programs in over 18 different countries that help at risk women and those who have been rescued from sexual slavery. Each item I bought helps a precious woman to be able to earn a living with dignity.

  9. Ellen R.

    Sadly, I don’t think I have a single accessory or clothing item that was purchased because it supports a worthy cause. The closest I would get is purchasing through Etsy because I like support handmade items, especially items made by stay-at-home-moms.

  10. Denise

    Wherever I go, I am on the lookout for locally made items too. Supporting local artisans in our own country is important as well. I love buying items from other countries also,(like the beautiful scarf you brought back from Cambodia!) but let’s not forget that there are people HERE that need our support too and we would do well to distribute our purchases evenly.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I agree and disagree, Denise. I think it depends on what you mean by “distributing our purchases evenly.” Compared to the rest of the world, there are very few people in America living on less than $1 a day. And most (not all) of them can get at least some sort of government assistance. There’s no such thing as government assistance in most third world countries. For a lot of these bag/jewelry/clothes makers, it’s a matter of life and death for their families. So “evenly” for me will lean heavily on the side of those in Africa/Asia/South America.

      1. Denise

        I understand. I still say don’t forget those right in front of you. Because yes, we have government assistance, but for various reasons there are those who cannot get it, and literately do depend on that sale to eat that day.

  11. Rachelle

    A couple of my current favorites!
    Mercy House Kenya:
    “The Mercy House exists to provide alternative options for pregnant girls living in the streets of Kenya. The Mercy House will aid them in nutrition, housing, prenatal care, Bible study, counseling and job skills for sustainable living”.

    Mercy House sells jewelry, tees, accessories all made in Kenya at Mercy House. I have the black “Act Justly,Love Mercy, Walk Humbly” tee and it is oh so soft. One of my favorites!

    This one I just found!
    Sak Saum:
    “Started in 2007 in Cambodia, Sak Saum is a ministry that offers rescue, rehabilitation and restoration to vulnerable and exploited women who have experienced firsthand the devastation of trafficking”.

    “100% of the sales from the online store go back into Sak Saum’s ministry budget for salaries, housing, transportation, healthcare, educational opportunities and more”.

    Sak Saum sells handmade purses, wallets, aprons and they have a good selection. I just ordered an ADORABLE purse from here and I am anxiously awating arrival! I feel so blessed to spend my money at Sak Saum, it is a priviledge.


  12. valerie (in TX)

    I’ve decided there’s no reason for me to (almost) ever buy another gift from any place other than an organization that supports those in need. There are SO many of them – you just have to look. This is a great resource, Marla, thanks for doing it!

    I love Krochet Kids. It’s an organization that was started by three GUY college friends. They teach women in Peru and Uganda (so far) how to crochet hats, which they then sell to support their families, provide education, and break the cycle of poverty. They are expanding their product line and now have several other items in addition to hats, but the crocheted hats are really cool!


  13. HopefulLeigh

    One thing I’ve learned in recent years is to research whether those purchases actually do any good, both short-term and long-term.

    I support the work of Trades of Hope and Ten Thousand Villages.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Yes, research is important (and I haven’t always been super careful about it). I’m thankful for the opportunity to see several of these organizations with my very own eyes. And several are run/supported by people I trust deeply.

      1. HopefulLeigh

        It’s definitely something I’ve had to learn and the book When Helping Hurts is making me learn it on a whole other level.

        That would be cool to see the ins and outs of the organizations you support! I’m sure that would make me want to buy one of everything. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Jennifer

    World Crafts Village is great!


    They sell items (jewelry, handbags, home decor, Christmas decorations) made by artisans overseas who are working under the larger umbrella of a mission group. As the artisans make a living with their work, they’re working alongside an in-country missionary, learning about what it means to have freedom in Christ. When you order something from World Crafts Village, you receive your item along with information about the group/artisan that produced it. Half of my Christmas decorations are World Craft products, and I’ve given and gotten so much jewelry from them that I can’t even remember it all. Great organization and great products!

  15. Jennifer Ekstrand

    I don’t wear a lot of accessories, but I occasionally give them as gifts. I like buying them at Just Sourced, an online FairTrade store that sells overstock, closeouts, and samples at a discount, which doesn’t decrease the amount artisans are paid. They usually tell a little about the “partner” who created the product.

  16. Leslie

    I am a complete and total sucker for “do-good” accessories — my Sunday School class teases me about it. “Where’d you get that scarf – Africa?” As a matter of fact…
    So, in addition to a pair of Toms (or 2) a few accessories I’ve bought for a cause include:
    — Hello Somebody gigantic yellow watch – a definite conversation starter – the organization helps feed and educate children and halt the cycle of hunger and poverty-http://hellosomebody.bigcartel.com/product/watches
    — A necklace from Noonday Collection, raising funds for adoption, orphan care and prevention, and providing jobs for families – http://www.noondaycollection.com/necklaces/bouquet-necklace
    –And while this isn’t necessarily a fund-raising item, by go-to, wear-everyday necklace is this one from Dayspring:
    (My t-shirt collection mainly consists of shirts bought to support friends’ mission trips or Dnow shirts. Yeah, and I’m 50. Love me some church shirts!)

  17. Ruth

    I will definitely spend more on accessories that go to a good cause than I will on non-good-cause ones. I like earrings (like the one pair I bought from you from Sisters of Cambodia) because that’s mostly the only type of jewelry I wear. I don’t carry a purse most of the time (the one I do carry was given to me), & I haven’t been presented with the opportunities to buy good-cause shirts so I haven’t thought much about them.

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