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About Us

New storefront

Welcome to HumanKind Fair Trade. We are San Luis Obispo’s first and only fair trade store, bringing you ethically handmade goods from all over the world. Since we first opened our doors in 2009, we have been serving a community of shoppers who love beautiful things and want to make a difference with their dollar. 

Our Products

Anna Lappe Quote At HumanKind, every item in our store has been ethically made and carefully chosen. We like to introduce unique products that have a story to tell and think about how each item can fit into your lifestyle. We are drawn to joyful colors, interesting textures, and things that make us smile. 

Our products come from suppliers we trust. 75% of our suppliers are members of the Fair Trade Federation– which means they must pass rigorous fair trade practice standards– while the other 25% are required to meet our internal fair trade standards. To bring you a collection we can stand behind, we actively seek out brands that align with our mission and values.

William Morris QuoteOur products allow us to feel connected to different parts of the world. And even though we can’t visit every maker, we do create touchpoints with our suppliers in other ways. We’ve had the opportunity to visit bakit makers in Ghana, we’ve collaborated with glass artisans in Ecuador for HumanKind custom designs, and we’ve attended fair trade shows and conferences to meet suppliers and to keep in step with where the fair trade movement is headed. 

 

Our Story

Margaret Mead QuoteThe idea of opening a fair trade store was first planted in 2004 when our founder, Elizabeth Aebischer, started selling fair trade items at her church’s holiday Alternative Gift Market. Her community loved knowing that their gift had a positive impact in the world and wondered, why can’t we have a store that sells goods like this year round?

In 2007 Elizabeth gathered a group together to form a 501c3 nonprofit and began fundraising for what would soon be known as HumanKind Fair Trade. The SLO community rallied behind the cause. Our very first fundraiser, the Winter Ball, raised more than $11,000. More support came through individual donations, a pledge from the First Presbyterian Church, and even a middle school rummage sale. Things were looking up until 2008, when the financial crisis hit.

HumanKind’s Board of Directors wrestled with fears about starting a retail business in such a tough economy, but news from the fair trade community strengthened our resolve: with inflation rising and ordering from North American consumers dropping, fair trade cooperatives were suffering. Though we were only halfway to our goal, we adapted our business plan to meet the challenges of the changing economy and began looking for a space in downtown San Luis Obispo. 

HumanKind Fair Trade’s doors finally opened in April, 2009, and ever since then we’ve been growing, learning and evolving. The pandemic was an interesting inflection point for us– as our storefront closed, our revamped website flourished. Online orders spiked and we got through the pandemic because our customers were dedicated and more than happy to do curbside pickup. We were even able to upgrade to a larger space just two doors down, which has opened us up to the community even more. We’re excited about where we’re headed and proud to have you in our community.

 

Our Team

HumanKind Staff HumanKind Staff: LynAnne (Manager), Tim (Assistant Manager), Katie (Sales Associate)


HumanKind Board of Directors
Part of the HumanKind Board of Directors at the grand opening of the new location

HumanKind Volunteer Gathering
Part of our HumanKind volunteer team!


 

 

Our Mission

To create a fair trade marketplace that supports the efforts of producers who live in communities that have been negatively impacted by inequality and lack of opportunity. We strive to inspire our community to think critically about their purchasing power and the impact it can have in our world.