One of the values we applaud here at Redress Raleigh as we define and promote “responsibly made” fashion is fair trade. Fair trade is a socially responsible business practice that ensures the people who are creating products are paid livable wages for their work. We’ve had the great fortune to work with and be supported by Sara and Phillip Dail, owners of Beleza Fair Trade Boutique, since our very inception.
Sara and Philip go the extra mile to address the fair trade issue with great compassion: on top of paying the artisans liveable wages for their work, Beleza also provides help and guidance for growing these small businesses and communities.
Located in the heart of the Cameron Village shopping center, Beleza’s signature look and feel is exotic authenticity. Every piece in the store is unique to its origin country’s culture, and through the stories on the tags, one can tell the kinds of close relationships the owners form with the artisans.
It’s a far cry from the typical outdoor strip mall accessories boutique or store that sources mass-produced, cheap and trendy items which offer significant markup opportunities. Philip’s first buying trip to Brazil taught him “more than you can read about working with international markets and how it affects you as a small business when you are dealing with families and very small groups of community members.” This all leads to fresh inspirations for Beleza, and is evident in the product mix available in their physical and online store.
As Philip traveled to various countries, he noticed that many talented and hard working makers needed connection and engagement with the global market. “I wanted to provide [artisans and makers] a platform where others could see and feel their work and, as much as possible, meet them through their products and their stories” Phillip said. Phillip befriends all of the artisans he works with, many times even staying in their homes and immersing himself in the community culture during buying trips. His ambition is to help every artisan community prosper through their trade. Recalling the greatest communal transformation, Phillip tells us about the Soatanana village:
One of the most remarkable transformations has been the village of Soatanana in Madagascar which was the first village we worked with. As a result of Beleza purchasing lambas from them, they have been able to build infrastructure in the village including a place for the government nurse to provide medical care, a place for the children to have school, and more. Most of all, they have a much better food supply now because they can purchase more and better foods to supplement what they raise. They were able to purchase cattle and hogs to use to produce offspring that they can use to barter with other villages for items they need. These livestock are like a saving account for them. Perhaps the most exciting development is that the village was able to afford to send some of their children to high school which means sending them to live at a boarding school in a city some distance away. Overall, the women in the village are happier and proud of their accomplishments.
Sara and Philip’s ultimate goal is to “help people around the world improve their lives with emphasize on improving the lives of children.” Beleza has become more than an a fair trade accessories boutique; it is an international community of valued artists, art enthusiasts, philanthropists and travelers. As you walk through Beleza’s doors, you instantly connect with communities all over the world - Madagascar, Brazil, Haiti, Uganda, Turkey and the U.S., to mention a few of the 27 different countries represented in the store.
Visit Beleza at their Cameron Village boutique in Raleigh, or online to experience the beautiful aspirations of talented makers come true.
Written by Kim Ring and Mor Aframian