The Creative Women of the World shop is a peaceful hide-away among the rush of downtown Fort Wayne. Located at 125 Wayne Street, it’s like Indiana’s own little culture hub. The shop itself is filled with beautiful products, each one unique, handcrafted by a woman from somewhere in the world. The store is set up like a gallery, which is fitting given that each product is a piece of art. Fair Trade is one of the main objectives of CWOW. What is Fair Trade? Fair Trade means treating producers with respect, this includes: paying fair wages, fostering development, and keeping environmental standards. Not only is it just a cool fair trade store, but the primary focus of Creative Women of the World is to offer business training so women can get out of poverty. Taking a look around, you might notice that each product has a white tag on it. The tag informs customers of where the item is from, a little bit about who made it, and their story.
Creative Women of the World has helped around 150 artisans in 10 different countries and they don’t plan on stopping there. Lorelei Verlee, the executive director of the company, has always had a passion for art. Growing up in Japan has given her an early start to a global perspective and outlook. Creativity is very important to Lorelei. She believes that bringing the creativity out of people and turning it into an asset that will help them meet market needs and help them rise out of poverty and human trafficking. What better way to contribute to the world than by doing something you love? Lorelei isn’t the only passionate woman in the business, all of her staff and artisans have their own reasons for becoming part of CWOW.
Each member has the opportunity to go to one of the countries and assist in training the artisans, giving them an even better perspective of how the products are made and what they mean. Lorelei’s next big trip will be with another artist, Nicole Moore, to Haiti to assist in training and product development with a company she helped start in 2007 called Haitian Artisans for Peace International (HAPI). There are opportunities to volunteer as well that don't require traveling all the way around the world. Head over to their website to see all the ways you can help.
Of course, the simplest way to contribute to the cause is by buying the products -- and that’s easy. The products range from elegant pieces of jewelry to fashionable clothes and fine chocolate. That in no way covers everything, a visit to the store is the only way to see how absolutely wonderful all the products are. I only stopped in for a quick look around and ended up buying three magnificent items. If you want to help women both in the United States and around the world, all it takes is a walk down to 125 Wayne Street.