Seattle Pike Place Market Stores - african art, fair trade artisans store - Hands of the World
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Meet the Producer, Cynthia Hope, Hands of the World
It all began with wanderlust. While working in Singapore in the late 1970s, Cynthia trekked with her family to see friends near the Thailand-Burma border. These friends had created a co-operative in refugee camps to preserve folk art traditions while also promoting education and self-sustenance. The tribal peoples created arts and crafts to be sold overseas, and in turn the profits paid for their education.

With education came a promise: Return to the co-operative for at least one year to serve the residents. Doctors, nurses and other professionals came back.

This inspired Cynthia to work for two years at a U.N./Oxfam-sponsored refugee camp in the same area. As director for a non-profit, self-help handicraft project, traditional crafting skills flourished, giving opportunities for people to better their living conditions.

When she returned to the states, she settled in Seattle, selling imported crafts out of her two-door Toyota at fairs. It was her experience as a vendor at the 1982 Market Street Festival that led to her decision to open a shop at the Market in December of that year. You can find her in the main Market building, down the ramp from City Fish.

Hands of the World, as the name implies, specializes in handmade crafts, jewelry, decor and accessories from around the world, especially from developing countries. There are ceremonial masks, deities, world-music CDs, carvings and much more from over 30 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Look beneath what sells, though, and you'll find commerce with a conscience.

Her passion for development projects and co-operatives continues to motivate her to grow her business after all these years. "After all these years, I love what I and doing it in the Market," she says. "The creative spirit of people around the world still inspires me."

She continues to support six to eight development projects, including the Woman for Woman Project, which helps Cambodian women fulfill their educational goals and further their career skills. In a twist of fate, the woman who started this project, Suely, was born in a Thai refugee camp in the same region where Cynthia worked.

March 2010
'10 great places to shop for stocking stuffers.'
USA Today, Dec 08

Nov-Dec 08

Commemorative Ornament and Market Charms were featured in the Seattle PI, Life and Arts section Thursday November 29th.