A present to you from Tokyo, via Tibet & Tohoku

As most of you lovely regular readers would know, fair trade and other social enterprises really float my boat. So I was thrilled to be able to visit the Shokay showroom while I was in Tokyo. Shokay promotes sustainable development to create employment and opportunities for Tibetan herders, using the yak wool that they harvest to create super soft yarn and luxury knitted garments and homewares. (The Shokay official website in English wasn’t working on my computer so this article may be handy if you’re having the same technical issues but want to know more). In Japan, the brand is represented by two sisters who I used to work with, so I had a good old yak while I checked out the brand (yes, pun fully intended). 
The Hayashi sisters run an NPO called Social Concierge and an online magazine/store called Do Good Be Happy (both only in Japanese, sorry!) and as part of their work, they supplied Shokay yarn to women in the Tohoku region of Japan who were affected by the Fukushima earthquake last year. The women have used the yak yarn to create items including corsages, the sale of which gives them some income, but just as importantly, some work and a way to interact positively with their community and the outside world again. The Social Concierge sisters kindly gave me this corsage to give away to a reader, so if you’d like to win it, just leave a comment on this post by October 31 – I’ll select the winner randomly on November 1 (make sure I have a way of contacting you!). And because the corsage is the result of so many people from across the globe working together, I’ll post it to you no matter where you are in the WHOLE WORLD! 

私のことを知っている人はもう、分かっていると思いますが、フェアトレードやソーシャルエンタプライズに大変興味を持っています。だから、結構前からShokayというブランドが気になりました。昔一緒に仕事していた林姉妹二人が日本でShokayのプレスをやっているので、今月東京にいる時にショールームに遊びに行きました。Shokayもやりながら、Social ConciergeというNPOもDGBHというオンラインマガジン&セレクトショップも経営している林姉妹ですが、東日本大震災で被災した女性たちのサポートにもなっています。どういうことかというと、Shokayのヤクウールをその女性たちに渡し、手編み製品を作ってもらっています。女性たちの収入にもなっていますが、コミュニティ作り運動としても効果的な企画ですね。