Each holiday season, the question of ethical giving always seems to pop up. How do you balance giving meaningful presents with, well, the cool factor? Thankfully, social enterprises like Tradeworks BC get how gifts can be both well-designed and sustainable.
Tradeworks has been receiving a lot of local media attention these days, thanks to Executive Director and Top 40 Under 40 Recipient Maninder Dhaliwal. This means production at their DTES Workshop is booming, especially on the ever-popular Twelve Days of Christmas Gift Set (pictured below). During my interview, customers were constantly asking where to purchase the box and ornaments. (The short answer: try Vancouver Art Gallery and select RONA stores, or purchase online at the Tradeworks store.)
Leading from the top is always a sign of a healthy social enterprise, but I also wanted to get a sense of how these DTES women were empowered to become leaders through the training programs. So, I had the chance to interview Toni Glick: Head Designer, busy mom, and an artist with a story. We met at the Vancouver Art Gallery Store, which carries a selection of Tradeworks’ hot-selling gifts for the holidays.
Toni is a determined powerhouse with a knack for spotting new product ideas. She’s been working with Tradeworks for the last seven years, having originally received training in laser engraving. It was beautiful to see her speak about the confidence and independence that she’s found through gainful employment in the skilled trades, and her future goals of becoming employed full-time as an artist. There’s an easy camaraderie with her fellow coworkers; an understanding of the language and cultural barriers women face as new immigrants, or of the unique and shared struggles as single mothers.
It’s great to see Vancouver institutions like The Art Gallery taking such a strong stance on social enterprises that directly impact marginalized women and youth. Suzana Barton, the Gallery Store Manager, spoke to me on the importance of Tradeworks’ products in their store:
The Vancouver Art Gallery Store is proud to carry products from Tradeworks, not only as a way to support the community but also these products are high-quality, well-designed, and well-made… They are beautifully designed, exquisitely made, and environmentally sustainable… All of these fit in with our buying philosophy and we are happy and proud to be able to support Tradeworks by offering them in our store.
Want to give something beautiful that truly gives back to our local communities? Tradeworks should be one option for serious consideration – if you can find any in stock, that is.
Photo Credit: special thanks to Wendy D Photography.