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Hope for Women greeting cards send a fair-trade message with a delicate artistic touch

Seattle Times

Author and essayist Phyllis Theroux said, “To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” I appreciate her sentiment and love the way a handwritten card can connect friends across miles.

In addition to warming the heart of your pen pal, if you send a fair trade Hope for Women Portraits of El Salvador card ($5.50) from Market Street Traders in Ballard, you’ll also help support a community of artisan women in Central America.

The new cards each display the portrait of a woman whose hair is made of flower petals native to the highlands of El Salvador. “I think people will love the cards because the women are so beautiful; it’s the type of card that someone will receive and frame or keep because they’re so unique” says Peg Boettcher, a long time employee of Market Street Traders.

Open since last October, Market Street Traders carries sustainable and fair trade gifts from the far flung corners of the world. Since they take great care to root out fair trade wholesalers of good repute, Boettcher was thrilled that the Hope for Women cards hailed from El Salvador — a country where it is sometimes difficult to find transparent and accountable fair trade distributors.

Hope for Women, a member of the Fair Trade Federation, distributes beautifully crafted gifts made by women in remote areas of the world. The El Salvador cards are created by a resilient group of women who founded artisan organization Arte Comasagua when their homes and fields in the highlands of El Salvador were devastated by mud slides and earthquakes.

When you purchase one of the distinctive El Salvador cards, the women of Arte Comasagua directly benefit from the sale. “You have a connection between the creator and your gift,” explains Boettcher.

I recommend coupling an El Salvador card with one of Market Street Trader’s fair trade wines for a thoughtful, celebratory gift. Market Street Traders, Boettcher explains, is the only fair trade wine retailer in the state of Washington and has fantastic Argentinean Pino Grigio, Shiraz, Malbec and Torrontes to choose from ($16-$24 a bottle).

Once you’ve finished shopping in their retail space, take advantage of Market Street Trader’s Café, which opened this past June, and sit down with an Athenian Panini ($6.95) and a cup of local, fair trade, Pangaea coffee ($1.50) as you pen a message in your El Salvador card.

If you have a shop, sale, event or great product tip you’d like to share, e-mail seattleshopping@nwsource.com.

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