Small-scale farmers near Kisii grow and handpick this tea on their 1-2 acre shambas. Women in the Kisii district of Kenya design and handcraft each label from banana leaves. 100% of the profits go toward school fees and the purchase of books and uniforms for the orphans of western Kenya.

This tea is naturally high in antioxidants. Kenyan black tea is among the world’s finest teas.

Recycled glass & (Kumasi) brass beaded, multi-strand necklace with various other locally sourced stone and ceramic beads. Handmade & fair trade from Ghana. Comes with a matching set of earrings.

Length: 13"
Earrings: 2.5" L

Purchase helps to support Joana Nelson and other women artisans by providing a fair wage and creating job security in Africa. Visit our artisan page to learn more.

Buy here.

Ayindisa’s owner has been in North Carolina at a Fair Trade conference. They now call Chris Mr. Colorful. Everyone in Ghana will be happy. His other Ghana nickname is All Weather because Chris works in the rain (which Ghanaians don’t like) and the hot, hot Bolga sun. The villagers also call him Chop Master 2. Peter is Chop Master 1 because he always eats a little more than Chris can.

Amazing large hand-carved Last Supper. Mahogany wood is sourced from tree plantations and is harvested sustainably in accordance with Ghana’s forestry department. Set includes Jesus and 12 Apostles, table with table stand and four cups and one large wine chalice. 

Figure Dimensions: 11-13" H

Purchase provides fair income and helps to create job security for our wood carvers in Ghana. To learn more about our woodcarvers visit our artisan section.

Buy here.

Ghana means “Warrior King” and was adopted as the legal name for the Gold Coast combined with British Togoland upon gaining autonomy on March 6, 1957 when it achieved independence from the United Kingdom’s colonial rule, becoming the first African nation to do so. Their flag has one stripe red, one stripe yellow and one stripe green with a large black star in the center. There motto is “Freedom & Justice”. (Wikipedia.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghana).

Today is Ghana’s Independence Day and it is the first time I have actually been in Ghana to witness the holiday celebration. I normally try and avoid March because it is so hot and coming from the Northeast my body is like what the @#%^%^&&(*. Maybe it was something I ate or all the mosquitos that attacked me the other day. Those skeeters love my blood. Seriously if there was a mosquito on the other side of Ghana it would find me. Then again it may be my malaria medicine. It always makes feel crappy. Either way it just shows you what people Ghana are up against every day.  I toast their resilience. It is not easy. In fact that is a common saying you may hear. My partner and Ayindisa co-founder, Dagando Dramani  is often heard saying “It’s not easy” or “No food for lazy man” His Dagondoisms as I call them are beautiful African proverbs weaved together with his own wisdom and keen observations of life. They are a pleasure to hear and often times they are powerful and very funny. So with that in mind I would like to welcome you to our new Tumblr blog post. Since I am in Ghana now visiting with Ayindisa artisans I look forward to posting more over the next few days if the internet will stay on.

Large colorful handmade quilt tote bag (also know as a crazy quilt bag). Leftover cotton tie dye and batik fabric strips are upcycled by Ayindisa artisans to create a unique and vibrant design on outside of each bag. 

The front of the bag also has one large pocket (11"hi x 7.5"w). Inside of bag is lined with a solid neutral or red wine color fabric and comes with three additional interior pockets, (two are 9"hi x 4.5"w, one is 9"hi x 7.5"w). Tote also comes with zipper to close the bag and has an Adinkra symbol attached with twine that has been hand-carved from leftover coconut or palm scraps. 

Comes in two different styles of colors: Regular or vibrant (vibrant tote on right in picture).

Bag Dimensions: 17"x17". Handles: 16".

Purchase provides fair income to Ayindisa artisan, Bernice Ankrah and single mothers that assist her in production. Also helps to create job security for women in Africa. Visit our artisan page to learn more.

Buy here.

On March 9th it was the first time I was able to meet with the Ayindisa Sirigu basket weaving group. This second group was created during the third quarter of 2012 in Northern Ghana outside of Bolgatanga. Around 8 am Dagando or Peter as he is also named, Adumbila, A.K.A. Jo, Moro or Moro and I piled into our little red rented taxi and drove on roads a car like this should not go. Bolgatanga means land of rocks. It shares this commonality with Connecticut where I live. In CT you stick a shovel in the ground you hit a rock. This is why there are so many rock walls in New England. These three hard working men are my backbone and they work with all the artisans Ayindisa currently has relationships with in Ghana. Since they are all from the Northern region it helps tremendously because this is where some of Ayindisa’s biggest and most economically disadvantaged artisan groups live and work. On the way to the village we drive through an area that is developing and changing from traditional mud huts to concrete and zinc houses. The area recently discovered gold and many local politicians or big shots from the town have made their homes in this area.

My guys all comment on the various political and social challenges occurring in this area as well as their mistrust of the Chinese companies that have moved in and are working side by side with the Ghana government exploiting the indigenous population of their rights. Fighting they said had almost broken out with people living on the land and the government over this. As of now I do not believe Ghanaians  are getting access to the huge amounts of money being made by the Chines and the Government. Thoug they pay taxes and discover gold on their lands and dig it out. Recently oil was found in a different region of Ghana called the Volta region and the government sent soldiers in and kicked everyone out including those that made the discovery. Ghanaians want to be a part of the process. This is an extreme but valid contrast or example of how different fair trade business and its framework and structure are in comparison to the corporations operating in this particular area. I ramble.

Anyway we eventually had to park and walk  into the village where the weavers had gathered as a group. I was happy to see they were gathered beneath the shade of a mango tree. The mango tree is my favorite tree in Ghana followed by the baobab tree because I love eating fresh mangoes but the shade it provides is very good and it saves my exposed, wintery white skin from looking like a tomato. Our meeting then began with a heartfelt prayer from one of the weavers. They welcome us after we introduced ourselves and then they begin spontaneously singing and dancing often times the women would end on a crescendo and stomp there feet and come at me then smile. It’s threatening and non- threatening at the same time but it’s all in fun. They also are using this opportunity to teach the younger group members these traditions and have them participate in the singing and dancing because they are messages from the group shared and given to me and Ayindisa workers. When they are done its talky time. Peter calls the group officially to order and I say something from my heart and he translates for me. This back and forth dialogue goes on for some time and everyone has the opportunity to speak or be heard and say whatever is on their mind or in their heart. This is Fair Trade principles in action.

There is also a cacophony of sounds swirling around me. A funeral is taking place just beyond in the distance and you can hear the music pulsing through the air. Goats, sheep, guinea fowl, ducks, chickens, turkeys, dogs and children all run into and out of the group discussion. This actually reminds me of my own family. I am the oldest of seven and we are animal lovers. Add spouses and children to the mix at family gathering and you have a tribe. A tribe of Gays, why gays? Because that is my last name. Gay, it’s French. Got a problem?

Women are weaving baskets and we discuss how the basket market is in the USA and exchange advice on how we can be a successful group. The women’s demeanor and faces change as they recognize their potential and that Ayindisa is serious and has a track record as well of success. Any skeptics in the group were now no more. A group does not just form overnight. Peter had been laying the foundation along with Adumbila last year. I came after all their hard work and together we all joined into one. It was the cherry on top of a beautiful sundae. Oh I wanted a hot fudge sundae under that mango tree. The heat had begun to make me delirious.

The basket weaving season is year round but not really once you factor in local traditions, the farming and weather seasons. All these things can really interfere with production and these are major challenges to manage and navigate so disappointment does not come. This also where creativity and out of the box thinking occurs. I graduated with a BFA in sculpture and I think sculpture is very over looked and even looked down upon by some other academics. It provides ample opportunities and challenges where you must problem solve, overcome difficult obstacles, use math in a non-traditional way and then execute and often times be ridiculed and judged and misunderstood by everyone you show the final piece to. It’s great, no really I love a good critic. What I am trying to say is it toughens you up, sharpens your mind and has helped me tremendously working in the challenging environment of Africa but also with all the other aspects of Ayindisa and running a business. After years of creating sculpture I had developed a very steady and hardworking work ethic as well. This is essential if you want to make something of your life.

We joke a little and laugh as well. All of us our smiling and listening and there is progress being made. I asked them to guess how old I am. They said 29. I said how did you know that? No one likes getting old. However, many of them actually do not know their own ages. They use information gathered from stories of their ancestors, their family names and oral history’s to help them arrive at an approximation of their birth. The meeting lasted two and a half hours and it was nice to meet everyone finally face to face. There are 30 women in the Ayindisa Sirigu basket weaving group ages 19-60 years old and all of them have children to support. The meeting ended with another heartfelt prayer offered by a weaver. Then we took photos to document the group and we were off putting along in the little red taxi to meet with our third basket weaving group.

I could see some children in the distance pumping water from the bore hole well as we drove into the village. There were yellow, blue and silver metal bowls gathered around the pump and they were filling them to drink, bathe with, wash clothing or give to their animals to drink. We got out of out the small taxi and walked over to some of the basket weavers that were now gathering under a tree to say hello.  Unfortunately not everyone in the group could attend because March is a funeral month in Northern Ghana and everyone is trying to bury their loved ones before the rainy season starts in April. We then walked with members of the community down a path to the well Ayindisa & Engage Now Africa, our humanitarian partner helped build in November 25, 2011.

To see the water flowing and the pump being used made me so happy, especially all the smiling faces from the children and older women in the village. This time and in particular on this visit I truly saw  happiness on their faces and a genuine appreciation for the life giving water and access they now had to it. It improved their lives and this impact was immediately apparent by just everyone who was there enjoying it. I even pumped some water for the children with Dagando and the kids played with the pump like it was their personal playground.

Fetching water used to be a difficult, burdensome and physical act but now it had become fun. They no longer had to walk miles and miles away or carry heavy 5 gallon plastic containers on their heads or backs. The basket weavers and community members started sharing with me how they now bathe in the morning and evening every day. Before the well was built they would only really bathe once or twice in a month. They had even planted a garden at the end of the well which I though was awesome. They were using the well water runoff like gray water and didn’t let it go to waste. They were now growing pumpkins and all manner of vegetables. The fence around the garden even acted as a laundry line where they could hang their freshly washed clothes to dry. The well was in magnificent shape and so was the land around it. They had swept a large area around the well and kept it clean from trash, plastic bags, rocks or debris. The community had kept their word and their well maintenance communities were very active.

On March 8, 2013  the well has been in use for one year and four months and they tell me there have been no water shortages not even in the dry season. The water is cool and deep below the surface. Our investment in working with good companies and constructing high quality and thus more expensive wells is already paying everyone back. I say hi quality because not far from our well is an example of good intentions but poor investment and planning.

There is a well that a reputable organization built in this community but it has been dry and not working now for several years. I do not think many donors to various organizations realize that there are different kinds of wells and various qualities of wells that can be dug and built. Unfortunately, this is not the only well in the area built by local & International NGO’s (Non-governmental organizations) or the local government that do not work and now have the appearance of a well but are really an empty vessel and are now collecting dust. Not to mention many organizations do not even test the water to see if it is actually safe to drink or do what is necessary to make it safe. This is a whole other issue I am not going to get into in this post.

The next big step to be helping the basket weaving group is building them a weaving center or shelter where they can gather as a group year round and be protected from rain in the rainy season and hot sun in the dry season as well as exchange ideas teach each other so they can improve their weaving skills. After saying construction of this would begin this year they said the following.


The group had been waiting patiently and working hard over the years and we had established trust.  The well was their first priority but it was still difficult for them to not have a proper shelter to work in. In artisan relationships you should not make promises you cannot ever keep. We wanted to help with a shelter but it simply was not possible so we focused on other things we could do to demonstrate our commitment as a company and devised a plan that all could agree upon. Always keep your word. Nobody likes disappointment. Everyone should be able to share and voice their own concerns and praises. These should not be kept inside. Otherwise division can foster and problems can really come. This is one major piece of advice I would share with anyone thinking about creating a fair trade business. It is in my opinion also one of fair trades greatest principles and strengths. Now we were finally in a position to invest once again in our artisans and the community and they were over joyed and a celebration erupted. I even danced a little which brought tremendous laughter and smiles.

The Ayindisa basket weaving group has a great spirit within it and I believe this spirit can be felt when you touch our baskets as well. You can feel the actual hand and energy of those that make them and all that takes place to get them in our store and into customer’s hands.

Part 2. written in Bolgatanga, Ghana.

After discussing the Independence holiday and many other issues with my Ghanaian partner we are both reminded of our humble roots. It seems like it was just yesterday that Dagando and I met face to face in a busy and crowded marketplace in the capital city of Accra, Ghana. He was carrying some djembe drums over his back and I was searching for a nice djembe to buy. Ayindisa began with a friendship and six djembe drums.

We struggle and continue to struggle today with many challenges that exist running a global artisan business. However with trust, friendship, patience and the support from our customers we keep advancing “small, small” as they say in Ghana or a little at a time.

What I love about Ayindisa and fair trade are all the beautiful people and lives you become a part of and the relationships that are forged. It enables artisans from developing countries access to the global marketplace and this trade is helping to improve people’s lives and the planet. Creativity is also at the roots of fair trade.

Artisans create and develop products born from their personal experiences, cultures and traditions, but another way creativity is used by Ayindisa is to help our artisans in ways most people including our customers do not ever get to see. Beyond the product tags with pictures of producers and information about the product they have made are real people. We have real relationships with these people. We know them and their families. I personally visit them every year and meet face to face with them. It is hard to truly convey these experiences, the joys, the hardships. To me these experiences are sacred. They are powerful, sometimes overwhelming and difficult but also a lot of fun. From these conversations, meetings and discussions we learn and hopefully grow together. It is a creative process. We use this process as a means to a better existence. One that our customers play a vital role in when they choose to buy fair trade products. I am always amazed when I am told how lives are impacted for good in ways that I would never know unless the artisans themselves were to tell me. So I am thankful for the good that takes place in our artisans lives but also in the lives connected to theirs that you and I will not always see and I am thankful for everyone who plays a role in this process from start to finish.


“Our artisans are so thrilled to get this order. I’m excited knowing this is going to help so many people in Africa and create hope for children facing significant challenges here in the USA. This is how I like to do business!”

Chris Gay, Ayindisa founder/owner

Ayindisa fair trade gifts, located at 18 Prospect Street in Ridgefield have been tasked to make hundreds of duffle bags for the Forever Young Foundation, a non-profit founded in 1993 by NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young. Currently over 25 Ayindisa artisans are busy at work producing 450 unique handmade duffle bags each with various decorative African designs and colors. They will then be delivered in groups of 150.

Each group of bags this year will have a different look and color scheme from the next. When they are finished being made they will then be filled with various FYF sponsors products and information and given to hundreds of donors at three separate fundraising events throughout the year to help raise money for children facing significant physical, emotional, and financial challenges here in USA as well as humanitarian and educational projects in Africa.

This is not the first time Ayindisa has provided Steve Young and his organization with a unique product. They have had great success using several of our products at various fundraising events over the past few years. Also every purchase at Ayindisa (Eye-In-DEE-Suh), provides a fair wage, helps to create job security and preserves traditional techniques and methods for the artisans living and working in Africa.

To learn more you can visit: http://www.foreveryoung.org/ and www.ayindisa.com.

National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. All businesses have supply chains. Numerous small companies work to provide the cotton in our t-shirts, the metals in our laptops and cellphones, as well as the sugar in our desserts.  These raw materials come from all over the world. The businesses selling our t-shirts and chocolate and cell phones rarely know where these raw materials are coming from, or who is assembling the products before their final stages. This lack of transparency allows for unregulated production and many times unsafe or illegal practices in the workplace, including modern day slavery.
From Not For Sale Campaign

When you support fair trade it prevents human slavery.


Fair Trade and handmade custom tailored trench jacket with decorative African fabrics. Comes with large buttons, waist cinch belt and two outside pockets, fully lined inside, perfect to wear in spring and fall weather. Comes in various sizes but tends to be cut a bit small regardless of size. Jacket is not water proof, can get wet, will not harm jacket and colors will not bleed. Dry clean only!

Purchase provides fair income and helps create job security for Ginatu Doe and other women artisans in Africa. Visit our artisan page to learn more.

Buy here!