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Mary Embry
Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design

Jennifer Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, November 18, 2008

IU’s Fair Trade Bloomington group plans community-wide “green” Holiday Bazaar

Nov. 18, 2008

BLOOMINGTON -- Holiday shopping in Bloomington just got a little greener.

While Indiana University's Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design prepares for its fourth annual holiday sale, Dec. 4-5 in the Indiana Memorial Union's Georgian Room from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., apparel merchandising lecturer Mary Embry also is helping to organize the city of Bloomington's first "green" holiday festival -- the Fair and Green Gift Festival -- scheduled for Dec. 6 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in Allison-Jukebox Community Center at 351 S. Washington St.

Fair trade items from Ten Thousand Villages, A Greater Gift and Global Mamas will be available both at events.

The Dec. 6 sale also will include a new vendor, the Village Experience, an Indianapolis-based global tourism and fair trade product business that was founded by two alumni from IU's apparel merchandising program. Local green vendors have been invited to sell both gift items and green services at the Fair and Green Gift Festival, and Bloomingfoods Market and Deli will be on-site brewing fair trade coffee.

SIFE Fair Trade Sale

The 2007 fair trade holiday fair at the Indiana Memorial Union.

Print-Quality Photo

For the past three years, Fair Trade Bloomington -- a nonprofit organization created by IU's Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) group -- has hosted holiday sales featuring fair trade goods such as handmade jewelry, holiday ornaments, baskets, carvings, tableware, textiles and toys. This is the first year the sale will include green products, a move that Embry and students involved with Fair Trade Bloomington hope will inspire greater participation and attendance -- as well as heighten awareness of fair trade and green products.

"Hopefully, the festival will be of enough interest that we see more and more green vendors in the future," said Embry, who also is in the process of finding a storefront for Bloomington's first-ever fair trade store which is expected to open in the fall of 2009.

SIFE initially formed Fair Trade Bloomington to provide an opportunity for Bloomington residents to contribute to global economic development and poverty relief. SIFE students use the holiday sale as a learning experience and a means of reaching out to the community to explain how local consumer purchases of holiday gifts can benefit people worldwide.

The concept of fair trade is based on established business guidelines designed to improve the economic conditions of underdeveloped, poverty stricken countries. These guidelines include:

  • paying workers fair prices for their goods
  • paying workers in advance for goods
  • maintaining orders
  • monitoring working conditions
  • empowering women
  • maintaining environmentally sound business practices

Many of the fair trade products will come from 10,000 Villages, a major wholesaler in the United States with products coming from more than 120 artisan groups in more than 30 countries. "They always try to find artisans in the deepest need," said Embry. "And once you're a supplier for 10,000 Villages, you're always a supplier. There are assurances that you can build your business and your market will continue."

Embry said that SIFE students who end up involved with Fair Trade Bloomington don't necessarily come in with dreadlocks and "save the whales" T-shirts.

"I've been surprised at the people who end up running Fair Trade Bloomington. They aren't particularly in that kind of green, hippyish, protest-the-way-the-world-works kind of crowd. They're people who end up working in businesses, being buyers, who are the traditional students we see in apparel merchandising who want to work in a corporate office." That combination of business prowess and green-hearted awareness translates to future business leaders with heightened perspective, she said.

Embry said she hears back from project leaders years after their projects who tell her, "I see the world differently now. Thank you." "I have alumni come back and say 'I wish this had been going on when I was here,'" she said.

For more information about Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design, see For more information about Students in Free Enterprise and other student groups within Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design, see To view photos from last year's holiday bazaar, see