Sojourns-Fair Trade, where Birmingham meets the world

Sojourns -Free Trade owner Melissa Kendrick (center) surrounded by customers. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

“Where Birmingham meets the world.”

That is  the best way to describe  Sojourns – Fair Trade, located in downtown Birmingham at 2017 3rd Avenue North.

Alabama’s first Fair Trade Store

Established 13 years ago in the Magic City, Sojourns-Fair Trade  is the first wholly fair trade store in the state of Alabama.  The local independent store works with 400 artisan cooperatives in 59 countries. 60% of the artists they work with are women, who are the most marginalized in the world. About a third of those women have either been liberated or protected from sex trafficking .

None of the items are from sweat shop labor, child labor or forced labor.

“We are working with the most vulnerable, poorest populations in the world to give them hope, dignity and a better tomorrow,” said Melissa Kendrick, owner of Sojourns-Fair Trade.

  10% to local non-profits

Collection of Alabama ornaments at Sojourns-Fair Trade. Photo by Pat Byington Bham Now

Along with its global approach to Fair Trade, Sojourns gives back locally.

One such example is its collection of Alabama ornaments.

“We had a lot of people asking for Alabama ornaments, so we first designed a Birmingham ornament with the skyline,” added Kendrick. “We give 10% of our annual profits to local non-profits, so we decided use our products to raise awareness of about certain groups. We created the Alabama watershed ornament that supports the Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Coosa Riverkeeper and Alabama Rivers Alliance. We couldn’t leave out the Cahaba, so we created the Cahaba lily ornament. Then people wanted a generic Alabama ornament, so we crafted a Sweet Home Alabama ornament that supports Alabama Arise.”

Each ornament is made by an artisan from Ecuador.

Open through Christmas Eve

Russian nest dolls highlighting iconic Birmingham sites at Sojourns-Fair Trade

Sojourns-Fair Trade will be open Saturday, December 22, 10 to 6 and on December 23-24,  Sunday and Monday 11am-3pm.

Sojourns has everything, from home decor, clothing, jewelry, toys and perfect stocking stuffers.

Check out their website and journey to downtown Birmingham and “meet the world!”

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.