Green Business Feature | Fair Trade and Sustainable Gift Choices at ECO-tique

By LeRae Haynes –

Gift giving takes on a whole new meaning when one-of-a-kind beauty is layered with a piece of culture that means something deep and beautiful. Open for a limited time, November 14 to December 23, at the ECO-tique Pop Up Store in Williams Lake you can find home furnishings and décor, clothing, and accessories from places around the globe, featuring fair trade and sustainability and helping to preserve culture and build economies.

Penny Hutchinson and Maureen LeBourdais bring beautiful, global, sustainable art to ECO-tique. Photo: LeRae Haynes

ECO-tique features collections from three local businesses: Satya Yoga Studio, MamaQuilla Textiles, and Worth Every Penny. It was a big success last year, meeting the needs of the community and delighting shoppers with beautiful, thoughtful gift options, and has returned this season to enhance the downtown shopping experience.

When you give a gift from this shop, you give a piece of culture being preserved and loved. Every piece represents a living wage and good working conditions, values that are increasingly important to shoppers.

In 2010, MamaQuilla Textiles owner Maureen LeBourdais did a tour on the Silk Road throughout Asia and Europe. “Textiles was a big part of that tour, and while traveling in Central Asia I met some families and some artists—artisans working to restore their traditional hand crafts,” she explained. “Most of them were from U.S.S.R. countries, places where all traditional ethnic directions, language, arts, and music were outlawed and discouraged. Now they’re trying to restore local economies.”

LeBourdais met families working toward this restoration, including a woman named Miriam Danniarova, who was in her 70s, in Kyrgyzstan. She and her family were making beautiful Shyrdak felt rugs, some of which are featured at ECO-tique.

“Felt has always been part of their culture,” said LeBourdais. “A nomadic people, their homes were traditionally yurts; people of the new generation are trying to pass on the culture before it disappears.”

“What struck me about Miriam was her commitment to her culture and its preservation, working at the same time to restore the economy.

“They’re very pragmatic. It’s a business, and if they can employ a couple of people in the village as they get more orders, that’s economic development.”

When you buy one of these rugs, you’re taking home a one-of-a-kind work of art. “It’s an old skill and an old culture,” said LeBourdais. “The colours are bright, true, and lovely—passed down through generations. The motifs and designs all have meaning.”

Miriam speaks no English. “Her youngest son, who went to Moscow and got a degree in tourism, speaks English. Since I met them, they now have some internet. The son and I email back and forth, and they can also send FedEx now,” she said.

“When I met them in 2010, they were really happy that we were interested, and completely honoured and delighted that the western world was interested in, not only in the rugs themselves, but in the stories behind them.”

Penny Hutchinson, from Worth Every Penny, fell in love with Flores Huichol art in a small shop in Puerto Vallarta. That’s where she met artist Jose Carrillo, who told her the stories behind every piece of art.

Also a great lover of Cariboo-Chilcotin beading, Hutchinson said her heart stopped when she came face to face with the detailed and exquisite Huichol art. This art includes beaded masks, framed pieces, jewellery, ceremonial bags, and beaded bowls made from gourds.

She said, every bit as beautiful as the beaded pieces, are the incredible stories behind them. “The stories behind the art tell about their ancient culture and beliefs,” she said, adding that she also buys thing like beadwork and drums from local bands throughout the northern Shuswap and the Chilcotin.

“What speaks to me are the commonalities of their pieces, their love of culture, and their desire to share the love of the natural world around them,” LeBourdais added. “We’re more the same than different.”

For more information about ECO-tique, located in Delainey’s Mall at 271 Oliver Street in Williams Lake, find the company on Facebook at The ECO-tique Pop Up Store or phone (250) 305-4422. To find out more about the individual businesses, find Worth Every Penny, Satya Yoga Studio, and MamaQuilla Textiles on Facebook, and visit www.mamaquillatextiles.com and www.satyayogastudio.ca.

LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, song writer, community co-ordinator for Success by 6, member of Perfect Match dance band, and instigator of lots of music with kids.

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