Photo Credit: FemTrade Box
Black Woman-Owned FemTrade Box Empowers Women Artisans Worldwide
New Jersey native Sedona Hill is the founder of Black woman-owned FemTrade Box, a unique subscription box supporting women around the world by sharing fair trade products.
While studying, Sedona wrote an academic publication on human rights practices in supply chains, urging businesses to focus on every aspect of their value chain. She became passionate about advocating for women and global human rights, and has spoken at women’s conferences about fair trade and being more mindful about who and what is behind products being manufactured and consumed. Her international travels continued to fuel her passion, and would eventually inspire her to create FemTrade Box.
As an avid traveler who has been to all seven continents, Sedona has witnessed many women around the world being underserved and exploited, living as second-class citizens. One place she has always gone in the countries she’s visited is the markets.
“I feel you get to experience the culture of a country best at the market,” she said to Travel Noire. “I always admired the Black women-owned stalls in the markets, some selling their crafts with their children right beside them. I always thought they deserved to have more visibility; they deserve to have a collective of women who back them. When women support women, magic happens. And when women have their own money, they don’t put up with shenanigans.”
In 2020, she began developing FemTrade Box, a non-profit charitable organization that focuses on the economic empowerment of women globally. FemTrade Box empowers women around the globe to gain financial independence through quarterly (every 3 months) subscription box sales and an online marketplace. The items featured in the box are all from fair trade brands, handmade by women in cooperatives.
Fair trade promotes local sustainability, better prices, decent working conditions, and fair wages for services and goods. This mission supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Responsible Consumption and Production. The cooperatives are worker-owned businesses that focus on sisterhood and empowerment. The women members have access to resources and services such as education, childcare, financial services, and healthcare.
“Our mission is to end the exploitation of women globally. So, when you donate to subscribe for the box, you get a little taste each quarter of what you are supporting women to create— a better life for themselves and their families, but in a fun way. (Who doesn’t love receiving a package at their door?) 100% of the proceeds are filtered right back into women artisans and cooperatives.”
“Each FemTrade Box contains women’s accessories, wellness, and lifestyle items. In this season’s box, there is a clutch from India, a candle from Chicago, earrings from Nepal, and tea from Kenya. The summer box will contain items ranging from body products to beach accessories. We want to make ethical consumption easy and cute! Bringing fair trade to your doorstep helps your fellow women worldwide, but also makes you feel good.”
Sedona wants women to know that fair trade is not just for wealthy women or hippies, and that all women can find ways to be mindful of their every day consumption. From the tea you drink in the morning to the clothes you wear each day, there are trendy and fashionable brands that will keep you looking and feeling amazing knowing that you are helping women receive the wage that they deserve, knowing that child labor was not involved, and knowing that women are not being exploited for our pleasures in life.
“Because of the fast fashion era that we live in, over 10 million tons of clothing waste is produced each year in the United States. This is due to fast trends and social media, where we ‘one and done’ an outfit because it is of little cost to us. But what we do not often think about is that there are women toiling in bad conditions, working for pennies an hour to make the clothing which keeps the cost ‘cheap’ for us. Fair trade was made to alleviate this exploitation. Women have the power to change the world, and FemTrade Box relies on this fact.”
One of Sedona’s goal with FemTrade Box has been to be intentional in ensuring more women of color take up space within the fair trade industry. One of few Black woman-owned organizations of its type, FemTrade Box believes not only in women helping women, but in women of color helping women of color, as well. So far, it has products from Ghana, India, Togo, Nepal, Ethiopia, the United States, Kenya, Peru, Zambia, Turkey, and Bangladesh.
“When a woman is supported, her children are supported. The futures of these communities will flourish and we will start seeing greater contributions within these communities. FemTrade Box is a community of women in solidarity who believe that we are all connected and deserve human rights. In one of my favorite quotes, Michelle Obama states ‘No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens.’ There is so much more that the world is capable of, if only we empowered each other and women were treated with equality.”
Sedona hopes to soon start building cooperatives through FemTrade Box so that more women can have the financial stability that they deserve.
You can subscribe to receive the box at www.femtradebox.com. Sedona also encourages anyone who is passionate about empowering women and ethical consumption to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via DM at @femtradebox.