The Intersection Fair Trade
Our goal is to combat poverty and injustice by purchasing products from fair trade cooperatives in developing nations. Most of these cooperatives are made up of people who were living in poverty, or who have been rescued from situations of sex trafficking or abuse. They are now being offered employment making products in order to offer them a new life and a new start. We are purchasing these products to sell in the North American market.
We want to connect North American shoppers with quality, ethically sourced Fair Trade items at a reasonable price. Our goal is to provide you with an alternative– products that you want and would buy anyway, but with origins that you can know and trust. We want products that we can match faces and names and stories to. We want you to know that there are real people who are receiving real benefits for their labour– ones who were faced with poverty and hopelessness but have now found hope.
The story of The Intersection: Fair Trade began when we (Dane and Meghann Jaeger) were in a village in Kenya called Kithituni with a group of women whose families had been devastated by AIDs. When we met them, they had found hope and income through the rolling of paper beads, which they made into jewelry. We loved hearing the stories of these women, and we loved their workmanship, and so we bought a whole bunch of jewelry to bring back home to sell to our friends. As we shared their stories with our friends and sent the money back to the women we realized that this is what we wanted to do. We wanted to invest our time in connecting people in developing nations with outlets to sell their goods, and in turn connect the stories of people purchasing items with the stories of those who produced them. We wanted to create an intersection at which their stories could meet. We wanted to change the way people thought about what they purchase, and cause them to investigate the origins of their products, and the conditions in which the creators of their products are working.
So we started a business. We called it The Intersection: Fair Trade. Our tagline is “At the corner of their story and yours.” Since we began, we’ve been introduced to many more stories. We’ve found out that everyone knows someone somewhere who could use a platform for their story and their goods. We’ve also found out that there’s a yearning in peoples’ hearts to connect to something greater and know that they are doing good.
For the first 8 years we went to every market, festival, fair, and church event we could get into. Our weekends were full of loading up, setting up, sharing stories, selling goods, packing up, and loading stuff back into wherever we were storing it. Sometimes we had great sales and shared a lot about our artisans. One time we drove all the way to Kamloops (3 hours away) and didn’t make a dime. But during that time we learned, we grew, we developed, and our heart for the producers and the cause grew and grew.
What also grew in us was a passion for the rights of the enslaved and abused. We began to narrow our focus with our products and our time to seek out groups who were involved in the prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation of people who had been trafficked throughout the world. Human trafficking is one of the greatest sources of oppression and injustice in our world, and we want to do all we can to fight against it. Many of the products we began to carry were from survivors of trafficking, who had found a new start and new hope making goods and selling them as part of their rehabilitation.
In 2018, we opened our first brick and mortar store, which we simply called “The Intersection: Fair Trade.” It was a store, but to us it was so much more than that. It was a place where we were able to educate about anti-trafficking. It was a place where we could meet others with a similar passion and share experiences. It was a place where there was another layer of stories intersecting and lives being changed. During that time we saw our team and our networks grow as we were able to connect with more like-minded people who had a heart for justice.
Tragically, in January 2020 we experienced a fire next door that flooded our store. We were just recovering from that, and had just re-opened when CoVid restrictions came in, and we made the difficult decision to close our doors. While we were sad to see the store go, we are so grateful to have an online presence still. Despite any circumstance we face, there are a few things we know. What we know is that every product has a story, and every purchase has an impact. We may not see it, but there is a ripple from any purchase made anywhere that affects real people in real places. We want to know that that impact is positive. We want to provide or point people to ethical or fair trade alternatives for as many items on the market that we can.
What we also know is that the stories of fair and ethical trade are stories of hope, of restored dignity, of rescued futures. We’ve encountered cooperatives made up of women who were trafficked for sex slavery and were rescued and given employment. We’ve encountered stories of communities getting water and access to health care through premiums paid back into their communities from the sale of their goods. We’ve heard of children getting a chance at education because there was finally enough income in their family so that they didn’t have to work. These are the stories we want to share. These are the stories we want to intersect with. This is the impact your purchases and ours can have.