Fair Trade shop in Edmonds to close

Dec 17, 2013

Fabric of Life Foundation's Fair Trade shop in downtown Edmonds will close its doors Dec. 31.

Founder Carol Schillios, better known in the community as "the lady on the roof," announced today the Foundation will transition to on-line retail and wholesale to Fair Trade retailers.

"The non-profit retail shop has served its purpose of funding our pilot program in Mali West Africa, where young women go from begging to self-sufficient artisans," Schillios said.

"The whole point of development is to help people help themselves.  Now that graduates have market-ready products, they are ready for wholesale.

“We're closing our non-profit store, because we want to re-direct our rising overhead costs to help more beggars off the streets through broader wholesale distribution."

The foundation's non-profit store, run by volunteers, made it possible for graduates in Mali to market-test their products and form their own artisan wholesale co-op this year.  The war in Mali left a struggling economy and even more girls begging on the streets.

Fabric of Life Foundation will expand its efforts in Mali and fund future students through a new sponsorship program and online wholesale and retail sales.

The foundation invites people to sponsor students and follow them as they become skilled artisans in less than two years.

"Saving a child from begging on the streets is a gift that keeps giving," Schillios said.

You can sign up at their shop to fund a student.  After Dec. 31, become a sponsor at the Fabric of Life website:  www.fabricoflife.org.

"The Edmonds Community has been a blessing these past five years because people shopped Fair Trade at our store -- our social non-profit business funded the wholesale start-up,"  Schillios said.

She expressed pride in the volunteers who gave their time and talents to the store since its opening in October 2008.

When asked what's next for Schillios, she said, "We will continue to run Fabric of Life Foundation with volunteers as we transition to wholesale and online. And I'm even more committed to expanding our outreach to begging girls.

“I will also continue my full-time consulting practice for credit unions across the U.S. and microfinance institutions in developing countries."

As to whether she plans to go back on the roof any time soon, Schillios said, "If that's what it takes to help more begging girls off the streets, then bring on the tents!"

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