Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Conversation with Fair Trade Advocate, Molly Stillman

I'm always looking for new places to network and of course, share about the Dunitz & Company fair trade jewelry collection. To that end, some time ago I was introduced to Molly Stillman, an active blogger and advocate of fair trade who among other things administrates an active Facebook group, Purchase with Purpose. As part of this group, I learned the depth of Molly's commitment to educating others about ethical and sustainable business. You can discover much more about Molly on her website. Me being me, I wanted to know even more. I asked Molly if I could interview her and she graciously said yes.

NANCY: Was there  a pivotal life experience that encouraged you to promote fair trade and ethically motivated business?

MOLLY: On my first trip to Kenya in July 2011, we toured the Kazuri Bead Factory in Nairobi. This was the first time I physically saw the impact that a fair trade company was having on its community. Kazuri really focuses on employing single moms and disadvantaged women and they are empowering them in so many amazing ways. I wanted to know more about companies that did this. This was the gateway for me to begin learning more about other ethical companies.

NANCY: I think I've been part of your Facebook group for at least a year.  It's quite active and there is a significant membership. How do you recruit such quality members?

MOLLY: I started by inviting a base of people I knew in the ethical community and then reached out to my own readers and community who I knew wanted to learn more.  Then I asked people to invite others they knew and trusted. It organically grew from there.

NANCY: I see many blogs about sustainable and ethical fashion. What really impresses me about you is the consistent output of podcasts you produce.  How did you get into that?

MOLLY: I actually have a background in radio and have been blogging for 11 years. I love the medium of "radio" and interviewing and had always wanted to start a podcast.  So, a little over two years ago, I sat down and just did it.  I reached out to about 20 entrepreneurs I knew or had contact with. And as it grew, I was able to connect with others. It's been such a joy for me and I love doing it.

NANCY: Assuming someone had never listened to your podcasts before, is there one or two you'd recommend or you're most proud of?

MOLLY: Oh man, this is such a hard question because I have loved interviewing so many different people.  My 100th episode was really fun because it was my husband and I talking about the previous 100 episodes. Liz Bohannon of  Sseko Designs our Episode 28 was a really good one. So was Zane Wilemon of Ubuntu Made. That one is Episode 17. 

NANCY: Can you share a story that makes you smile? I'm guessing with all of your involvement with sustainability, you must have one of two worth sharing. Or perhaps you were involved with a project recently where you feel you made a huge difference.

MOLLY: I've been working with a ministry through my church with a group of women in Thika, Kenya. We are in the process of training them to become an artisan group. These women are overcoming unthinkable odds. Their stories are theirs to tell, not mine. But, I will just say they have experienced so much hurt and pain and hardship. Over the past two years, I have seen them come so far. They were reluctant at first that they could "do it". They thought they'd never have the skills needed to support their families. Now I see them smile and take pride in their work. And they want to learn how to do even better and grow their skills. Seeing these women have hope is absolutely incredible and motivates me every day to keep doing what I'm doing.

NANCY: Do you have any tips for newbie bloggers? It's such a crowded marketplace online. Are there any pearls of wisdom you might share?

MOLLY: I always tell new bloggers or people just starting out to find their niche, find their why and focus on that. Blogging is not easy and you will burn out quickly if you try to do what everyone else is doing. Be yourself and focus on creating quality content that you are passionate about sharing.

NANCY: And finally this might be the most important question. (Asked with a smile.) It appears you're quite a burrito aficionado. Can you describe your fav? Or perhaps you have a recipe worth sharing?

MOLLY: I love this question! The best burrito I've ever had is at a place called Freebirds in Texas. But since I don't live in Texas, I eat at Chipolte regularly and I am not ashamed. I get brown rice, black beans, half chicken, half steak, lettuce, cheese, and mild and medium salsa. Oh, and don't forget the guacamole. (Mouth watering...)

---end of interview :)

Whether you work in fair trade or support it, you may benefit from being a member of Purchase with Purpose. I have Michele Adams of Village Country Store to thank for my intro to this Facebook group. If you're interested in joining in, let me know and I can submit your name for membership.
One final note. Molly has compiled a wonderful resource list of fair trade operations, ethical brands and Made in USA fashion companies. It's definitely worth checking out and sourcing from. And yes, Dunitz & Company's fair trade jewelry is noted in the accessories section. -ND