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I (Beth, that is) really love a trend I’ve been seeing more of lately, in which companies are bringing consumers together with the people and places their products came from.

With the rise of Etsy and other online marketplaces, people can purchase products while interacting with the person who handmade or handpicked the goods. I have bought a few things from Etsy, and it is worlds away from buying something in a store or even on Amazon or eBay. I’ve received handwritten notes with my deliveries, thanking me for my purchase, and I always send a follow up e-mail or message to let the person know I’ve received and love what I’ve bought. To me, it’s cool to have an idea of where my wares come from, and interact with the people who make them.

An organization I admire is doing a similar thing. Invisible Children, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness of and affecting change in Northern Uganda, brings people together through Mend – just one of their many creative programs. Mend employs women in Northern Uganda to make bags that are sold on the IC website; the pay the women receive helps them live independent lifestyles and provide for their families. The coolest thing about Mend is this: the woman who makes your bag sews her name on a label inside. When you receive it, you can go on the IC website and watch a video about her, so you can see where your money and support is going. It’s incredibly moving. Even if you don’t buy a bag, I encourage you to check out these women’s stories, as well as all the other programs IC has established.

Even major corporations are getting in on this! Frito Lay has a Chip Tracker for its Lay’s potato chips. Consumers can go to the website, input a code from their bag and see where in the country their chips were made.

I think it’s cool that, in the time of Wal-Mart, Costco and (though I love it) Target, people are trending back to knowing where their purchases come from – really come from – and, in a lot of cases, who they impact.

What do you think about this shift? Have you had experiences like this, either as a buyer or seller?

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

2 Comments

  1. Beth, I hadn’t heard of some of these initiatives before. How incredibly cool! I love my Invisible Children bracelet that I know was made from the wires of dismantled land mines slowly being recovered from the Ugandan countryside, but I hadn’t heard of other efforts to remind me of my consumer connection to the greater world. I can’t wait to go the Mend website. Thank you for this post!

  2. Mimi – that’s awesome that you’ve heard of Invisible Children; the things they do are so worthwhile. With regard to Etsy – it’s easily one of my favorite “places” to go for goods, and their daily e-mail updates are awesome! I already have found most of the holiday gifts I’ll be buying this year! And as for potato chips, well, they’re just yummy sometimes.

    Thanks for your feedback!

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