Gifts That Keep On Giving

The "I am ____" Definicion shirt. Photo courtesy of Freedom and Fashion

Working with Freedom and Fashion has made me more conscious about what I buy, especially with all the things that are going around in the world. I want to make a difference, and you can too. This Christmas, why not give the gift that keeps on giving?  There are a lot of designers whose products benefit a particular cause. These organizations were also featured on the Freedom and Fashion (FNF) show last month. Read up on all the causes, from human and sex trafficking to clean water for underdeveloped countries to helping those affected by the North Korea crisis.

The summaries were provided courtesy of Freedom and Fashion and can be found in the FNF magazine. I’ve also made some comments on the products. If you know of non-profit organizations you think I’d be interested in, let me know!

Definicion Clothing

Cause: Education for Tibetan Children

Not only is Definicion Clothing comfortable to wear–I get to express myself. I bought one of the “I am _____” shirts and had fun defining myself. – Gio

Definicion seeks to define life with compelling messages and empower others to redefine the world. Each t-shirt is centered on a word or phrase that would inspire a dialogue among the public about the injustices affecting millions in the world. Definicion’s simple, yet powerful t-shirts speak the truth of a hurting world and gives at least 20% of its profits to organizations helping others redefine their lives through efforts such as education, job training and housing. Definicion is about defining life and doing our part.

Punjammies. Photo courtesy of Freedom and Fashion

Punjammies (The International Princess Project)

Cause: Women enslaved in prostitution

All my female friends love it. They say it’s extremely fashionable without taking away from the comfort. Hopefully, they’ll make a men’s line. I’ll be the first to buy it. – Gio

The International Princess Project is a way for women to sustain an income by sewing PUNJAMMIES™, drawstring pajamas made from beautiful sari fabrics that would be sold to consumers in the US. All profits from PUNJAMMIES™ are given back to these women to help provide for their housing, counseling and job training, creating a viable alternative to prostitution. IPP seeks to provide women with the opportunity to live physically, emotionally and spiritually restored lives of freedom and empowerment. “It humbles me to know that our little efforts can literally save lives,” Shannon remarks. “IPP will serve as a voice for those who have none.”

Kauzbots

Cause: Homelessness, Clean Drinking Water, Environment/Trees, Children with Autism, Refugee Relief, HIV/AIDS, Pediatric Care, Oral Health, Breast Cancer, and World Hunger

Kauzbots have quickly become my favorite gift to give by far. The cute 18″ plush bots are one-of-a-kind, with 10% of its retail price being donated to a non-profit organization. Each color is associated with a “kauz.” I bought Kruz, a blue Kauzbot whose kauz is to provide clean drinking water. – Gio

Multi-colored Kauzbots. Photo courtesy of Freedom and Fashion

Introduced at the International Toy Fair in February 2009, Kauzbots have caught the eye of the media and retail stores everywhere and have made their way into the arms of such celebrities such as Lisa Kudrow and Allison Sweeney. Non-profit gurus and former church pastors David Totter and Keith Paige have set out with the direction of John Weeks to put this creative idea into action to show how people of all ages can take tangible next steps to provide much-needed resources to communities everywhere.

KAUZBOTS are currently sold online  and in retail stores throughout the United States.

Dresses from Lalesso. Photo courtesy of Freedom and Fashion

Lalesso

Cause : Poverty in Africa

They have gorgeous bright designs. I’d buy it for my girlfriend. It would be nice to stroll around on the beach or a summer night around town with her wearing one of those dresses. She’ll make me stand out. – Gio

When Joanna Maiden visited Ukunda, a coastal town in Uganda in 2007, she learned of a program that employed local Kenyan tailors by paying a living wage and helping them meet a gap in the market. Joanna saw that the program was in need of the resources and staff to facilitate its growth.  In February 2009, Joanna made the decision to move to Kenya to establish SOKO, a project aiming to create sustainable and creative long-term solutions in Ukunda, Kenya by providing international markets with community driven, ethical and environmentally aware fair trade products.  After being in business for 7 months, SOKO has produced for several international fashion brands such as Lalesso, and seeks to create a sustainable business model that can be replicated in East Africa.

SOKO focuses on aiding men and women in poverty due to the economic downturn by providing training and employment in tailoring, sandal making, and accessories. 70% of SOKO’s profits are used to benefit local projects supporting orphans, disabled youth, schools and rehabilitation centers while 30% is used to expand the business.

Run DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone). Photo courtesy of Freedom and Fashion

LINK (Liberty in North Korea)

Shop LiNK from LiNK Global on Vimeo.

LINK takes North Korean propaganda and puts their own creative spin on it. the Run DMZ shirt is my favorite. It’s strong and stylish, an obvious reference to Run DMC. – Gio

North Korea is a country currently undergoing a devastating human rights and humanitarian crisis. Under the Dictatorship of Kim Jong II, North Korean citizens are virtually denied fundamental freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and worship. Over one million people perished in the mid 1990s famine due to gross government neglect and mismanagement. Citizens are indoctrinated at an early age to worship their dictator and those who are caught “subverting” the Kim regime in anyway are severely tortured or killed. In 2004 Adrian Hong and Paul Kim learned about these horrendous human rights violations occurring in North Korea and felt compelled to share with others what had been hidden away for too long. Adrian and Paul started by educating college students and young leaders about the crisis, and together they formed LiNK with the hope of spreading awareness and affecting real change.

Made in Mongolia bags. Photo courtesy of Freedom and Fashion

MIM (Made in Mongolia)

Cause: Mongolian women and children

MIM doesn’t just have handbags. They have all kinds of products, including pillows, toys, and scarves. I dig the scarves. They’re unique. – Gio

What does a Tibetan Monk and an Irish Designer have in common? Demonstrating how people from all walks of life can make a difference in the lives of others, Made in Mongolia(MIM) was formed through a partnership between the Mongolian organization Asral NGO, led by Tibetan monk Panchen Otrul Rinpoche, and Irish Designer, Pat McCarthy. Asral NGO started out as organization dedicated to keeping families together and preventing children from ending up on the streets. In the Autumn of 2009, Made In Mongolia(MIM) introduced fair trade crafts as a crucial endeavor to helping support women sustainable futures for Mongolian women in Asral NGO’s social welfare projects.

Handbag by Malia Designs. Photo credit: Malia Designs

Malia Designs

Cause: Human trafficking in Southeast Asia

I’m not a big jewelry fan (I love my class ring though), but they have all kinds of designs you can buy for your wife, girlfriend, sister, or even your mom. However, they do have some options for men. – Gio

Lia and Maria both independently witnessed first hand the horrors of human trafficking in Southeast Asia. Despite international recognition of these crimes and the government’s efforts to prosecute perpetrators,  Lia and Maria realized how pervasive the problem of sex tourism was Vietnam and Cambodia.  Being two socially-conscious entrepreneurial women, Lia and Maria formed Malia Designs as a way to combat human trafficking by providing a means for women to secure income and produce development in their communities.

Malia Deigns promotes handbags made by non-profit organizations that employ impoverished women in developing countries as well as small family producers across international borders. By exposing their craft to Western markets, Malia Designs help victims of human trafficking by donating portions of their profits to local and international non-profits in order to provide a larger amount of sustainable income for families in these regions.


Necklace by NightLight. Photocredit: NightLight

NightLight

Cause: Trafficked women and children in Thailand

It’s a great organization doing great things for women. Support them! – Gio

After ministering to women prostitutes in Thailand for 5 years, Annie Diselberg had the vision to start NightLight as an economic alternative for women and children trapped in the sex industry. With a team of 5 others that came alongside her, this vision became a reality in the Winter of 2005 when Nightlight became an officially registered Thai jewelry company. Women who had originally felt no hope for freedom from their circumstances could now learn how to make earrings, necklaces and bracelets and feel proud of their craft.

Shoes by Not For Sale Campaign. Photo credit: Not For Sale Campaign

Not For Sale

Cause: Human Trafficking

They have products for men and women. And the fact that it’s called “Not For Sale,” really gets people thinking. And when you realize that they’re talking about human beings–well, that stirs something deep down in a person’s soul. – Gio

The “Not for Sale Campaign” was launched by University of San Francisco Ethics Professor David Batstone. After becoming a firm advocate and expert on human trafficking, Professor Batstone decided to get his students involved in mapping slavery in San Francisco, the 12th largest human trafficking hub in the world. This daunting task sent students looking for ads of massage parlors in newspapers and magazines to discover possible human trafficking sites. Students spent months on watch investigating and observing these sites to see how many women would enter and leave during the course of a 24 hour day. Students had reason to believe that human trafficking was occurring when women who had confirmed to be working were not seen leaving to go home at night. Some students would walk into shops posing as customers looking to find women to entertain their bachelor party in a hotel next door. Students were shocked by their finding and recorded them on a slavery map using open for public to access and use over the internet. As word of these investigations spread, advocates all over the country became empowered to began their own investigations in cities across the country. Slavery maps began to spread and soon today there are over 140 confirmed human trafficking sites recorded across the nation.


Tag Bag. Photo credit: Tag Bag

Tag Bag

Cause: Residents of Kayamandi, South Africa

They are one-of-a-kind bags. No two license plates are exactly the same. They’re unique and if you are traveling around at night…well, I think it’s a safe bag to carry because it illuminates when you are crossing the street. – Gio

Tag Bags are handbags made from recycled South African license plates, which supports a global initiative to reduce carbon footprints. There are 8 different bags, all named in honor of a woman in the township of Kayamandi who is making a difference in her community. Tag Bags create jobs for members of impoverished communities and tells the stories of real people with real needs. With a growing market in the US, the expansion of Tags Bags overseas allows for increasing employment opportunities for the residents of Kayamandi suffering from poor living conditions. Tag Bag has been featured in Beverly Hills Lifestyle magazine and as well as on a series of websites including BagBunch.com and PurseBlog.com.


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3 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Fashion, Issues/Causes

3 responses to “Gifts That Keep On Giving

  1. Pingback: Gifts That Keep On Giving « Identity Revealed | Headlines Today

  2. Dear Sir/Madam,

    Greetings from Common Ground Program (CGP) based in Kitale, Kenya. CGP is a registered Kenyan non-governmental community-based organization with its headquarters in Kitale, Kenya. CGP’s mission is to help mitigate poverty, the single largest threat to human well-being and social stability in Kenya. Poverty breeds hunger, disease, illiteracy and environmental degradation. It also sharpens civil conflicts. To this end, CGP strives to reduce poverty while conserving the Earth’s natural heritage and biodiversity, and to demonstrate in a concrete, observable way that modern human societies can live sustainably and comfortably in harmony with nature.

    CGP founded and operates a primary school (Pathfinder Academy) with grades 1-8, with over 360 students, mainly orphans and vulnerable children. Each year students and faculty go out to groups such as AIDS widows groups to teach them Biointensive growing methods in order to help them become self-reliant and attain food security. As a result of its community service, the school has received awards from the Ministry of Education for four consecutive years for being the best school in reaching out to communities. Experiences gained at Pathfinder Academy have been shared with many others through local media and international forums, which are being replicated in other countries.

    CGP works with communities to use and adapt their existing technologies and resources; helps strengthen local institutions; uses participatory methodologies; brings in expertise to focus on the needs of the community; is gender sensitive; promotes income generation; promotes environmental protection; and implements childhood education and protection programs.

    I would like to participate in the SOKO projects. Please let me know how.

    Sincerely,

    Joshua Machinga.

    • Gio

      Hi Joshua,
      I am not actually affiliated with SOKO. My organization, Freedom and Fashion, have worked with Lalesso in the past. Lalesso helped influence the start up of SOKO. If you are interested, you should contact them.

      I am, however, quite interested in your project for Village Volunteers and your work as Coordinator of Common Goal Systems. I would like more information so I can feature it on my blog.

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