Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hatch Community Innovation Lab : New co-working space seeking social enterprises to share office and retail space at Portland location with Awaz Handcrafts

Awaz Handcrafts is excited to find a great new private office space at the Hatch Community Innovation Lab on NE Sandy Blvd - and we have space to share it.

We have secured a 367 square foot office space in this amazing building, and we are looking for like minded social enterprises, businesses and non-profits to share it with. Low cost and affordable, this could be the perfect opportunity to take your business, practice or organization to the next level.
Ideally - we are looking for 2 other people to share this large private room with to make it affordable for all. 

We are offering 122 sq. ft. office space for $300 or 244 sq. ft. office for $600. Lease starts December 2013, ie. now and revisited in 6 months. Offer is affordable and starts in December 2013.

Located at 2420 NE Sandy Blvd in Portland, Hatch is a newly renovated building with over 13,000 square feet of co-working space, offering private offices, cubicles, conference rooms, a café and retail shop for its members. With nearly 30,000 cars that drive down Sandy Blvd each day, the building is located in a central location in a thriving neighborhood with cafés, restaurant and other like-minded businesses. Sponsored by Springboard Innovations, Hatch is building a positive community by linking environmentally conscious and socially minded businesses and non-profits, sharing resources, and building stronger, more resilient places for communities to thrive. 

The Space -

We are offering 122 sq. ft. office space for $300 or 244 sq. ft. office for $600. Lease starts December 2013, ie. now and revisited in 6 months.

About Us:
Since 2008, we have been trading with small artisan groups in India, Nepal and Bolivia to create just livelihoods for workers, and improve the lives of women and families globally. We are fully committed to the economic up-liftment of small producers, honoring the human connection in trade, and creating an economic model that values people and the environment over profits. 

What else does Hatch offer? A lot! Not only will you be surrounded by a community of innovators, if you become a member or share our office space, you will have access to:

Workspace on the main floor of the Hatch building which features abundant natural light, couches, library tables, phone booths, café seating and free WiFi
Meeting and conference rooms
Discounted rates on after hour events in the Hatch building, which can host nearly 200 people
Professional workshops and presentations on relevant information to grow your organization or business
Bike storage and showers for bike commuters
Retail space
What else does Hatch offer?  A lot!   Not only will you be surrounded by a community of innovators, if you become a member or share our office space, you will have access to:

  • Workspace on the main floor of the Hatch building which features abundant natural light, couches, library tables, phone booths, café seating and free WiFi
  • Meeting and conference rooms
  • Discounted rates on after hour events in the Hatch building, which can host nearly 200 people
  • Professional workshops and presentations on relevant information to grow your organization or business
  • Bike storage and showers for bike commuters
  • Retail space
Check out the building layout here.

Shared Retail Opportunity 

We are also co-managing the Hatch retail space as well, and are looking for vendors who offer eco-friendly, socially-minded products to share this space with. Window front facing Sandy Blvd, the retail space is a key feature of the Hatch building. We are inviting both local artists and ethical businesses that work locally and internationally to share this retail space with Awaz Handcrafts. With low rent and high visibility, this space could be the perfect platform to share your products with an appreciative customer base and save money. 
You can use lots of space or less and pay from $100 - $500 a month. We want to create an eye catching mix of product and open to what you offer.

If you're interested in being a part of our community, want to share office space with Awaz Handcrafts, or collaborate on the Hatch retail space, let's talk.

Email Sarah Mitts, Director of Awaz Handcrafts at sarah@voiceforempowerment.com or call 503-995-5095 to discuss more or check out the building. Drop ins welcome - ask for Amy or Jon-Paul.


 The holidays are upon us!  And for most of us that means time with family,  gift giving, delicious food, and too many sweet treats.  But for many producers around the world, particularly those that grow and harvest our sweet ingredients, the holidays and life in general are not so joyous.  

 Lets take a look at two of the most popular baking ingredients, chocolate and sugar.  Both industries are laden with worker exploitation, extremely low wages, environmental degradation, and even child slavery.  According to the European Fair Trade Association, cocoa farmers on average get barely five percent of the profit from their chocolate. Compare this to the trading organizations and chocolate industry which receive upwards of 70 percent of profits - that's 14 times more than their producers!  But in an industry where 40% of the cocoa is slave grown, one might consider themselves lucky to even be getting that five percent.  In Cote d'Ivoire, for example, the US Department of State estimates that more than 109,000 children work under “the worst forms of child labor” in the cocoa industry and that some 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement.   And the sugar industry is nearly as bad as the Chocolate industry.  In places like Cuba and Belize, where sugar exports make up to 70 percent of the country's total exports, sugar cane farmers are extremely vulnerable to fluctuations in market prices and are some of the most impoverished farmers in the world.  

How sweet does that brownie taste now??  Don't worry, there are alternatives to this system. We don't have to give up our tasty holiday traditions just yet.  Many Fair Trade companies are working hard to provide fair wages, safe working conditions, high quality and environmentally sustainable products.  We just need to support them through our purchases. 

So in the spirit of the coming holiday festivities, and in the hopes that we can all become more conscious about what our holiday sweets support, Awaz Handcrafts is excited to be hosting our first ever Fair Trade Bake Off!

Sunday, December 8th from 10am-2pm 
at The First Presbyterian Church
1200 SW Alder St, Portland, OR 97205

For a complete list of the Fair Trade Bake Off Rules and instructions, click here.  

   Look for the label!

The winner of the Fair Trade Bake Off will not only bask in the glory of Fair Trade goodness, but will be awarded a whole basket full of Fair Trade gifts! 

We are so looking forward to tasting your delicious holiday sweets!

Please direct questions to info@voiceforempowerment.com.

The Awaz Team

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Awaz Handcrafts NEW Office + Shop @ Hatch in Portland | Listings for Holiday Market Series 2013

The Holidays are here - and our team at Awaz is launching new things, just in time for your ethical holiday shopping.
First - our new name, Awaz Handcrafts - to define our name and what we do better, we're adding Handcrafts. What do you think? 
Did you know Awaz means Voice in Hindi? We're voices for fair trade, for women and for handcrafts - let's work together to fuel it. Shop our collection of unique handcrafted gifts that make a difference - and fuel positive change with us!

Second - Starting in December, we have a one stop shop for all that we do. Now you can shop, connect with us, collaborate and join forces at our co-working space. FINALLY.
Read more about the new Hatch community ->>>>>

beginning December 2, 2013
@ Hatch
2420 NE Sandy Blvd.,
Portland, Oregon, 97232

Do you have a mission driven enterprise and want to sell your products in our Retail Shop?
Are you looking for affordable office space to scale your enterprise?
We are looking for like-minded organizations and businesses who would like to share our private office space with us. Affordable and low-cost. Co-workers get access to the abundant resources and benefits of the Hatch community and its networks.
Open House Tuesday November 19, 2013 – 4 – 7pm

Other times available for viewing – just contact us!
Email sarah@voiceforempowerment.com or call 503-995-5095 to get involved!

You're invited
Awaz Handcraft 
Ethical Holiday Market Series 2013

Sunday, November 17th
10am – 2pm
4th Annual Fair Trade Holiday Marketplace at First Unitarian Church
First Unitarian Church
Fuller Room
1011 SW 12th Ave.
Portland, Oregon

We return for the fourth year at the First Unitarian Church annual holiday fair trade market. We organize and co-sponsor this sale as members of the Northwest Fair Trade Coalition in partnership with the church Economic Justice Action Group to build greater community and support for fair trade in their congregation. We will be joined by Zimbabwe Artists Project, Imani Project, Thembanathi and other vendors offering unique holiday gifts.

Friday, November 22nd
10am – 6pm
4th Annual international Art and Gift Market sponsored by Women’s Opportunity Worldwide
Broadway Commerce Building, 44 West Broadway, Eugene Oregon
Corner of Willamette and Broadway

We are a member of WOWW and will be joined by Friendship with Cambodia, Thembanathi, CREATE and Anando Foundation downtown Eugene for a unique holiday gift show benefiting women and their families, locally and globally.
Women’s Opportunity Worldwide (WOW) was formed in the Spring of 2010 to provide opportunities for networking and collaboration among the many nonprofit organizations based in Oregon’s Willamette Valley working to benefit women internationally.

Sunday, December 1
10am – 4pm
World Aids Day Celebration sponsored by Portland Area Global Aids Coalition
First Unitarian Church
Buchan Building
1011 SW 12th Ave.
Portland, Oregon

Food, Live Music, Children’s Activities, Fair Trade Market and Information Tables -
Join us in celebrating amazing global progress in “Getting to Zero”.

Learn how you can be more involved in supporting the Portland community to address the impact of aids. Awaz is a member of PAGAC and actively involved in this network of over 200 global justice organizations around Portland addressing global health and poverty issues. Take a minute and join us in honoring the women, communities and organizations around the world working to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Learn more about the progress made and how you can help now!

Stay tuned for a film screening of Fire in the Blood in Portland in January 2014 by PAGAC – as governments right now weigh the passing of the next biggest NAFTA, the Transpacific Partnership – which will extend patents and furthermore keep affordable AIDS medicine and healthcare out of the hands of those who need it most.

Friday, December 6th
4pm – 7pm

Wintergreen Arts and Craft Fair at National College of Natural Medicine
NCNM Annex
049 SW Porter St, Portland, OR 97201

Awaz is excited to be invited this year to join NCNM’s Art and Craft Fair. We are blessed to have the oldest accredited naturopathic medical college in North America right here in Portland. They offer gradudate programs in naturopathic medicine, classical Chinese medicine, integrative medicine research and nutrition blending ancient healing wisdom with modern science.
Come early to have tea at the Sokenbicha tea house at the Min Zidell Healing Garden that features a botanical teaching garden and labyrinth.
NCNM has great one day workshops, ongoing community classes and more to discover and learn about – join us!

Sunday, December 8th
10am – 2pm
4th Annual Fair Trade Holiday Marketplace at First Presbyterian Church
First Presbyterian Church
1200 SW Alder St., Portland, OR 97205

We return for the second year to participate at the annual holiday fair trade market at First Presbyterian Church downtown Portland. We organize and co-sponsor this sale as members of the Northwest Fair Trade Coalition in partnership with the church Fair Trade Leadership Team to build greater community and support for fair trade in their congregation. We will be joined by Zimbabwe Artists Project, Thembanathi and other vendors offering unique holiday gifts, food and snacks. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fair Fall Fashion Trends 2013 | Layer Naturally with Bright Statement Pieces from Awaz

My goodness did the summer fly by!  Cooler days, warmer colors, harvest markets and pumpkin everything is here...  Fall has at last graced us with her ever lovely, nostalgia inducing presence. 

But let's not get too sappy... Fall is a fashion lover's dream!  Here are some fall trends you'll love and some Awaz great picks to go with it.

Cable Knits and Full Warm Scarves:  Okay so maybe it's not quite time to whip out your winter coat... but warm and snuggley accessories are a must when the weather gets chilly!  Get cozy this season with a thick scarf draped around your neck and shoulders.  


We couldn't resist the comfort of this look... and you probably can't either!  Keep warm during the cool months ahead with our ethical cable knit scarf in creme made by women in Nepal. Here's a sneak preview of our Fall Knit Collection, with cute fingerless gloves and hats to go with - available online soon!

Bright Statement Pieces:  Don't box up your bright summer dresses just yet!  These summer go-tos can make great statement pieces for Fall and Winter.  Just slip on some dark tights or leggings, a cute pair of boots, and a light jacket or sweater and your slinky summer ensemble just turned into bundled up Autumn beauty! Say goodbye to seasonal and hello to your new year round essential!

Get the look with Awaz's Organic Cotton Lounge Dresses (pictured left).  Brighten up with one of these (available in other colors), and our new Artisan Embroidered Dresses (pictured right) so you can feel good about fashion year round! 

Lovely Layers:  Fall weather can be unpredictable everywhere... cool in the morning, warm in the afternoon, then downright freezing at night!  So layering is essential to staying comfortable throughout the day (and looking cute while you're at it, of course!)  

Awaz Voice for Empowerment has got you covered on the the layering basics.  From the outside in, start with our Organic Cotton Relaxed Tees (bottom left, bottom right) and Dresses. We've got the perfect, versatile layering piece, Awaz's Classic Black Dress, pictured below.

Keep your fashion fair this Fall with Awaz's ethical, handcrafted fashions and embrace the cooler months ahead with our great year-round pieces!  


The Awaz Team

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Making Food Fair! The Coalition of Immokalee Farm Workers Stages Labor Day Protests Against Publix

Check out these change inspiring protests by the Coalition of Immokollee Farmworkers this past Labor Day Weekend of Action!  As this article states, "The workers this time had a powerful new weapon in their arsenal as they headed into the long weekend of action — the Fair Food Program” 

The Fair Food Program is an “unparalleled human rights program that, in the course of the past three years, has become the model for social responsibility in the US agriculture industry”.  The program consists of wage increases for farm workers that are supported by a price premium paid by corporate purchasers of Florida tomatoes (one penny extra per pound of tomatoes purchased), and a human-rights-based Code of Conduct throughout the Florida tomato industry.  The price premium and Code of Conduct were developed in a groundbreaking collaboration between tomato workers, growers, and corporate buyers.  In short, the Fair Food Program lays the foundation for a new model of social accountability in domestic food production. 

Programs like the Fair Food Program are critical to securing human rights for marginalized farm workers and producers here in the US.  With the high degree of consolidation in the food industry today, multi-billion dollar brands on the retail end of the industry are able to leverage their high volume purchasing power to demand increasingly lower prices for the food products they buy – resulting in unlivable, low wages for farm workers. 

Publix, the largest and fastest growing supermarket chain in the United States, has yet to sign on to the Fair Food Program.  Hopefully protests like the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers Labor Day Weekend of Action can sway their opinion.  But it may not be enough.  As consumers, we need to let our grocers, restaurants, food carts, and co-ops know that Fair Food matters to us!  Buy products labeled as Fair Trade and shop at places that have already signed on to the Fair Food Program such as Trader Joe’s, Chipotle, and Whole Foods Market. 

For more information on the Fair Food Program and a complete list of companies participating, visit http://ciw-online.org/ffp_faq/

And don't let your ethical shopping stop at tomatoes!  Shop ethical, Fair Trade, and sustainable all the time with AWAZ Voice for Empowerment.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Al Jazeera America Fault Lines: Made in Bangladesh Video. Children as Young as 12 Are Making Clothing for Old Navy in Bangladesh

I found these two videos today on ecouterre. They blew my mind when I took a minute to watch them.

It was clothing for Wal-Mart’s Faded Glory brand that was being made when the factory in Rama Plaza in Bangladesh collapsed. Still the families who lost lives have yet to be compensated.

Go Behind the Scenes in Bangladesh Garment Factories and see how Wal-Mart evades accountability for their cut-throat business practices. 

Thanks to Al Jazeera  America’s latest edition in Fault Lines – holding the world accountable.

It's not only Wal-Mart. It's Old Navy, it's everyone else doing business as usual. Watch this short 2.5 minute video and see why Awaz is working to do something different.

Help Workers stand up against Wal-Mart. Learn more about the Making Change at Wal-Mart Campaign.

and don't forget to fuel the change....shop ethical clothing.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

AWAZ at Portland's Yoga Shala Shop!!

Hey everyone!

Do you love AWAZ products, but hate shopping online?!
Then come check us out at the Yoga Shala Shop on North Williams.  

The Yoga Shala of Portland is now carrying AWAZ's conscious collection in their boutique—all natural cotton women's long tunics and tops, organic cotton yoga pants, hand block printed men’s shirts, recycled silk sari purses and yoga mat bags, and more!  Spare yourself the clicking around and get on down to the Yoga Shala! It's our favorite center for yoga and spiritual studies in Portland.

3808 N Williams Ave  Portland, OR 97227
(503) 963-9642

Don't forget to check out their amazing yoga classes and related studies, Portland kirtan singing nights and workshops!



Recycled Sari Yoga Mat Bags on the go.

Men's Artisan Printed Cotton Shirts

Organic Cotton Long Tunics, colorful Active Wear Cotton Pants, Summer Cotton Scarves

Up-cycled Purses and Cotton Totes

You Are What You Wear! Toxins in textiles today.

They say, “You are what you eat” – and that’s true!  But could we also be what we wear?  The correlation between chemicals and illness is on the rise and research suggests that we should not only be conscious of the food we eat, but also of the shampoos and detergents we use, the medicine we take, and now even the fabrics we wear

It’s not something most of us think about when we go shopping.  We are typically far more concerned about the style, color, and fit of the clothing we buy than we are about what exactly went into that material.  Unfortunately for us consumers, the fabric industry is highly unregulated, especially in the United States where there are virtually no requirements that manufacturers disclose the chemicals used in processing—chemicals that remain in the finished fabrics and are eventually worn and absorbed by our unprotected bodies. 

So just how bad is it?  There are over 2000 chemicals used in textile processing today, including some of the most toxic—lead, mercury, arsenic, formaldehyde, and Bisphenol A (BPA).    These chemicals are added to make clothing softer, wrinkle-free, fire-retardant, moth-repellent and stain resistant, but at what expense?  Not only have the chemicals used in synthetic fabrics been linked to health issues like cancer, immune system damage, behavioral problems, and hormone disruption (to name a few), but their production processes are extremely harmful to the environment and other species.  Nylon and Polyester, for example, are made from petrochemicals whose production creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is over 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.  In addition, petrochemical dyes and their fixatives are often laden with heavy metals which pollute our water systems.  Other commonly used chemicals include volatile organic compounds (hazardous air pollutants) , and dioxin-producing bleach which has been linked to reproductive and developmental problems, immune system damage, hormone interference, cancer, liver problems, and metabolic and thyroid malfunctions.  

This information can be overwhelming, especially considering that we encounter these fabrics and their chemical cocktails every day.  But fear not!  Here are some easy steps you can take to protect yourself:

       Go All Natural!  Buy products made of natural materials like cotton, wool, silk, and hemp.  Check out these great hemp-cotton pants from AWAZ!

  Read Your Clothing Tags!  When purchasing clothing or other fabrics, steer clear of products that use rayon, nylon, polyester, or other synthetic materials

 Organic, Organic, Organic!  When you purchase organic products, this not only ensures that the material itself is chemical free, but also the production process.  Here are some great new organic cotton dresses and tops from AWAZ to get you started!

          All Natural Dyes!  Buy clothing made with natural dyes.  Natural dyes are often made using vegetables and fruits, herbs and flowers so they are totally safe for you and the environment!  

Recycle!  Recycle fabric whenever possible to save our soil and waterways.  Here’s an idea!  Check out these recycled silk sari yoga mat bags and purses from AWAZ!

The chemical onslaught brought on by today’s fabric industry is dirty and dangerous for our health, and the health of our planet. That’s why AWAZ is so proud to bring you handcrafted, all natural and eco – friendly products.  Check out our webstore for more good-for-the-planet, Fair Trade products!



Friday, June 28, 2013

Media and Graphic Design Intern for local Portland sustainable handcrafted business

Job Title: Media and Graphic Design Intern

Description of Company:
Awaz (meaning voice in Hindi) is a locally owned and operated, Portland sustainable business dedicated to providing high quality, ethically-sourced handcrafted fashions from natural fibers through fair trade business practices.
We believe in an economic model that honors the producer, consumer and the environment with every purchase. Since 2008, we have been trading with small artisan groups in India and Nepal that help to create just livelihoods for workers and improve the lives of women and families in the Global South.
Our unique line of handcrafted fair trade products are made from natural fibers, recycled materials and support the preservation of traditional craft work such as block printing, handloom weaving and kantha embroidery . We are proud to offer Fair Trade Clothing for Men and Women made from 100% Cotton and Hemp for a sustainable lifestyle.

Overview of Internship:
We are looking for an experienced graphic designer to play a key role in elevating AWAZ’s brand presence in printed and online materials. Our sales are growing and we need a strong, consistent brand image to take our company and webstore to the next level and strengthen our market presence for ethical handcrafted products. This internship will provide exposure to a variety of graphic design tasks in a collaborative, innovative work environment with the opportunity to create or expand on a portfolio of finished products. This is a critical, hands-on position in AWAZ’s integrated Marketing and Communications Team, helping to ensure brand integrity and consistency in all published materials. The ideal candidate will work our team to contribute to ideas and develop and implement all areas of media and marketing. Your voice is important!
Design tasks include:
  • ·         Web and newsletter graphics
  • ·         Photo editting
  • ·         Promotional merchandise
  • ·         Business cards
  • ·         Flyers and brochures
  • ·         Create mock ups and sketch concepts
  • ·         Product Catalogs
  • ·         Stickers and buttons
  • ·         T-shirts
  • ·         Etc.

·         Enthusiasm and passion for our mission
·         A passion for design, and a constant drive to learn
·         Ability to provide creative input on product marketing and webstore branding
·         Collaborating with photographer
·         Excellent time management and communications skills, a collaborative work ethic
·         Ability to meet project timelines and juggle multiple tasks
·         Ability to work independently, but seek help when needed
·         A portfolio of outstanding work
·         Solid skills in Photoshop, Illustrator and/or InDesign
·         Video editing skills a plus! We are currently creating a series of short Youtube videos    to tell our story.
·         Creative writing skills a plus!
·         Previous webstore and/or retail marketing experience a big plus!

Minimum 15 hours/week or as needed for project deadlines.
To Apply:
Please submit a resume and a PDF of design samples, or supply a link to your online portfolio, to the attention of Sarah Mitts to sarah@voiceforempowerment.com.
Include a brief letter of interest and why this position is perfect for you.
Start Date: Immediately
Location: Portland, Oregon.

Salary: We are looking for a person to fill this role on a long term, paid basis. Reliable, successful candidates will be given $100 monthly stipend during initial stage and travel reimbursement. This will be revisited as candidate proves their work and commitment. Can be negotiated depending upon experience.