Gifts that Give Back

This week, we will be posting gift ideas that we have collected over the past few months.  In a month with the theme of minimalism, these posts are decidedly maximalist, but they should help minimize your work as you search for great gift ideas.  Today, it’s gifts that give back.  In the days ahead we will have posts with ideas for gifts for teachers, mentors and coaches, gifts for the kids, gifts for him, and gifts for her.

The three of us celebrate a secular Christmas, but we have picked gifts that should fit into many traditions and gift-giving opportunities.

This month, 4mothers1blog became an Indigo affiliate, so if your shopping list includes gifts from Indigo, please consider getting to their website through ours.  If you navigate to their site from here, we will receive a portion of the value of your purchase.  Just click through from the Indigo logo on the right side of the page.

Our first collection of ideas is gifts that give back: gifts with a charitable side.

From Beth-Anne:

LiveFashionable is one of my favourite on-line retailers.  They are committed to helping African women start their own small business cooperatives and they partner with manufacturers that employ women and practice fair-wage compensation.  My Selam scarf is on high rotation!  (Tizita bracelet, $34 and the ABLEscarf, $48.)




FEED is an organization dedicated to fighting hunger and eliminating malnutrition throughout the world.  These organic cotton and burlap totes, if filled with food, would feed a school aged child for one year.  (FEED tote, $80)


Consonant, an award winning all natural skincare company, has developed the Today Body Bar for Causemetics.  $4 from each Today Body Bar is donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Support Fund that provides financial assistance to breast cancer patients to help ease their financial burden.  At $12 this is the perfect stocking stuffer! (Consonant Today Body Bar, $12)


Approximately 287,000 women die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth complications each year.  Founded by model, film-maker and activist, Christy Turlington, Every Mother Counts is dedicated to reducing that number through education, and providing transportation and supplies.  Several boutique shops and big-name retailers have partnered with Every Mother Counts and contribute donations based on products sold.  For example, these Citizens of Humanity maternity jeans, A Pea In the Pod collection are on sale for $159.00.  Citizens of Humanity will donate $25 and A Pea In The Pod will donate $15 to Every Mother Counts!  Visit their on-line shop for a complete list of retailers and products.


Two Penny Blue is the place to buy fashionable accessories and luxury blazers and jackets in a variety of punchy colours or reliable classics.  For every jacket purchased, Two Penny Blue will donate a school uniform to a girl in need in Africa – opening the door to her education.  And we all know the powers of education!  (Blazers range $325-$399)




Oliberté became the world’s first Fair Trade Certified™ footwear manufacturing factory in 2013.  Based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia the company believes in creating fair jobs and workers’ rights.  In addition to building a company based entirely in Africa (from materials to labor),  Oliberté donates 1% of its proceeds to non-profits dedicated to sustainability and the environment.  For a complete list of 1% For The Planet businesses click here.  Shoes from Oliberté range from $50-$160 and gear is priced from $25 -$300.





From Nathalie:

I met Rafik Riad, the managing director of Salt, at the Distillery District in the summer, and I knew right away that I wanted to spread the word about his company.  Salt sells earth-friendly, hand-crafted and fair-trade gifts at all price points that are made by artisans in impoverished communities.  They work from the ground up, helping to train artisans, and to ensure that they receive a fair payment for their craft.


I lived in Egypt when I was in high school, and when I saw the Sahara Leather Bag ($150), I was immediately taken back to the homes and the markets I visited there.  The bag is made from fabric quilted in the traditional tent-makers’ style, and you can see this kind of quilting on awnings in markets and on throw pillows and blankets in people’s homes, including my own!  It’s beautiful and bold and makes a great statement.

Far and Wide Collective partners with artisans in post-conflict and emerging economies to bring to an international market unique and high quality gifts.  I love that the website includes information about the artisans and their trade.  This sage green silk scarf ($60), for example, was made in Afghanistan by silk weaver Saleh Mohammad, who learned his trade while living as a refugee in Pakistan during the civil war.  Beginning at $20, there are lots of gifts here for teachers, hostesses and BFFs.


Indigo is the Canadian merchandiser for Angela & Roi vegan bags.  The bags are not only animal-friendly, they are wallet-friendly and charitable, too.  Priced from $75-$150, each bag is linked to a different charity, and a portion of the sales goes to that cause.




From Carol

Sayula‘s lovely agave bath mitts, soap pouches, wash cloths, and root brushes make perfect feel-good stocking stuffers.  The Mexican-Canadian company goes the extra miles for environmental and social responsibility, creating bath and kitchen products from regional plants that don’t require much water or any pesticides.  Sayula also works directly with rural communities to provide stable income and fair prices.  Available in Toronto at Little House in the City (Carol’s shop).

sayula mitt


root brush


The Fair Trade Jewellery Co. in Toronto is the destination for ethical jewellery, including nickel-free gold, platinum and Canadian (from Ontario’s Victor mine) and Australian diamonds.  FTJC is also known for its custom designs – the perfect place to shine with an easy mind and heart this holiday.



More Gifts That Give Back

When Nathalie, Carol, Marcelle and I started 4Mothers, we had a vision of being a “virtual watercooler” where parents could come to hear different perspectives, offer advice, share ideas and learn from each other.  We always joke about how great it would be to overhear someone in the school yard say, “Oh, did you read 4Mothers today?”.

On Monday, I posted Gifts That Give Back.  My intention to was shed light on organizations committed to empowering women and educating others through artisan products.  I listed some of favorites: Live FashionABLE, Eat My Words and Two Penny Blue.  At the end of the post, I asked you to share some of your favourite Gifts That Give Back.

The few responses that I received reinforced the basic foundation of 4Mothers: this is a site to share ideas and learn new perspectives.

A reader reached out to me through email and shared her story of a recent trip to Africa inspired by a speaker she heard give a talk about Maasai culture at a fundraising event.  During her trip, that was organized in part by Me To We /Free The Children, she was immersed in Maasai culture.  This was no touristy trip.  She walked with the warriors, fetched water and learned beading from several local women.

She saw first hand how Me To We supports local artisans by selling their wares through the Me To We website.  By doing so, these women are empowered and enabled to care for their families.

Take a minute to explore the website and you will find artisanal gifts for everyone on your list, like these Ugandan stuffed animals ($24.99) that are perfect for the little ones in your life.

The Tatu Three Wrap bracelet ($29.99) and the Pamoja Unity bracelet ($49.99) are sure to put a smile on any woman’s face.

Another reader sent me the link to a fabulous website called Cause and Object.

The site features a product each day that gives back. To kick off Movember and to benefit prostate cancer research, the Urban Demistache Mustache necklace ($42) was highlighted on November 1.

Even though Halloween is over, if you have a super hero who loves to play dress-up consider this Pip and Bean cape ($45).  For every cape purchased, Pip and Bean will donate a cape to a patient at one of the children’s hospitals in Columbus, Ohio.

I hope you take a minute to share your favourite Gifts That Give Back in the comment section!

Gifts That Give Back

With Thanksgiving and Halloween past, for many of us, December marks the start of the holiday season and gift giving.

4Mothers are all about gifts that give back and from now until the end of the year we will highlight some of our favourites.

Two Penny Blue

Founded in 2010 by designer Marie Whitney, Two Penny Blue is known for their luxury, limited edition blazers in addition to an impressive assortment of beautifully crafted jewelry, bags and umbrellas.

Each season Marie offers her clients a unique collection in limited quantities.  The blazers (starting at $275) come in four distinct styles and a variety of colours, but the attention to detail is nothing short of bespoke finery. I purchased the Opal Appliqué Clutch (now $59.25) and it was my go-to bag this summer when heading out without my usual mom-satchel.

For every jacket purchased, Two Penny Blue will donate a school uniform to a girl in Africa in need.  By purchasing a uniform these girls are afforded the opportunity to attend educational institutions where otherwise they’d be denied based on their inability to pay for the required dress.  In Sub-Saharan Africa it is estimated that close to 24 millions girls do not go to school and Two Penny Blue is making it their mission to lower that number because educating girls is the most effective way to overcome poverty. (image credit: Two Penny Blue)


FashionABLE is a non-profit organization committed to empowering African women exploited by poverty.  Founded by the force behind the Mocha Club, Barrett Ward, after he witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of women forced to work as sex workers.  Ward was moved to make a difference in the lives of these women and partnered with “Women At Risk” an organization committed to the rehabilitation and support of sex-workers.

For every scarf (starting at $28) purchased, jobs are created.  Women at-risk, coupled with other Ethiopian resources are employed and the product is made.  The money from the scarf is then re-invested into the community to further support women living in poverty and to provide additional job training that helps to restore the dignity of women who are no longer prostituting themselves to feed their family.

There are some special women on my list who will be receiving these beautifully crafted scarves from Live FashionABLE this holiday season. (image credit: Live FashionABLE)

Eat My Words

Do you have people on your shopping list who have absolutely everything?  Everyone eats!  Why no gift them a dozen of the most gorgeous cupcakes you’ve ever seen delivered in a signature blue hatbox?  They are doubly sweet because the monies raised from the sale of these confectionaries go directly to supporting the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Eat My Words was founded by South African native, Jeanne Grierson in 2001 and she has since been joined by her daughter Sascha.  Both women are committed to a world without AIDS and have dedicated much of their lives to supporting the HIV-AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Eat My Words is a gift guaranteed to put a smile on the face of even the most discerning recipients. (image credit: Eat My Words)

How about you?  Do you have any favourite “gifts that give back?”  Please share!