Not every store dedicated to sustainable products and organic living can count Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron as a fan.
Online retailer hip and zen, which recently introduced its new South African Chic Collection, can make this claim. All of its fashion accessories and goods are organic, natural, handcrafted, recycled and/or fairly traded.
The South African collection showcases the work of that country’s artisans, and a portion of all proceeds benefits women and children there who suffer from AIDS.
“I was amazed at the wonderful creativity emerging from local designers on my last trip home,” says hip and zen founder Karen Clothier, a South Africa native. “I loved the innovative and fresh direction the artisans were taking and knew these unique pieces would bring a bit of the exotic and untamed to the states. And the products are all sustainable and fairly traded—truly hip and zen!”
The new collection includes jewelry, handbags, bowls and gift items, many of which feature intricate beading and wire work. The Peace Beaded KeyChain ($8.95, above), for example, is handmade by formerly unemployed artists who learned wire craft as children, when they made their own toys.
“I wanted to do something to help heal the tragedy that has befallen the women and children of South Africa,” says Clothier, who shares profits with the Topsy Foundation. “This organization appealed to me because of its multifaceted approach. They provide home-based care where appropriate, in-house care at their facility as a last resort, skills development, community outreach and poverty alleviation. Their assistance is aimed at helping people to become self-sufficient and remain with their family unit when possible, which I feel is a very holistic and humane answer to the crisis.”