Kasandy is a fair trade store, where customers can buy handmade products made by artisans in Kenya, East Africa as well as local artisans and other groups from around the world. At Kasandy, we are aligning handmade talent from East Africa with global fashion consumers. We work closely with artisan entrepreneurs to improve, introduce or advance their product design and quality to meet the current market trends, build their businesses, and sustainably increase their income. Our mission is to partner with you our customers to introduce you to the global marketplace and expand the reach of the small, micro-economy artisans of East Africa, to enable them to earn enough to support their families, business, and community.  By providing a platform for underemployed artists to share their work, we are bringing beautiful, high-quality, design-led, ethically produced, and environmentally friendly one-of-a-kind products to the global marketplace. We believe that buying small, supporting one another, and creating opportunity, empowers people, their art, and communities.

Question: How are you supporting other local businesses?

Answer: I am an immigrant and I come from Africa. My goal was to support artisans there and elsewhere. Many of my global products are from Africa, but also Peru, Bangladesh, Palestine, etc. What I do is to find all the products made by people we can support with our fair trade values. I curate the products so they really work with what’s in the store and what people want. I have 7 to 10 local BC artisans whose products I sell, including jewelry, soap, beauty products, coffees, and teas. For example, we sell Birch Artisan Studio, Reward Your Skin soaps, Justea teas from Vancouver, Level Ground Coffee from Victoria, pillows and table linens from Threaded Needle Design, soups and energy bars from Raising John, salts from Bowen Island Herb Salts, and facial products from Wildcoast Apothecary. I also have some Canadian products from outside BC, like Galerie Au Chocolat from Quebec.

A lot of my service purchasing is with local businesses too. I bank with Vancity, a local community bank, and my insurance is with a BC company. I also do partnerships with local businesses.

Question: What social and environmental practices are you proud of?

As much as possible, we work to reduce packaging. We also focus on products that are upcycled, recycled, made from natural fibres like jute, made from recycled clothing, etc.

Everything we sell supports fair wages for artisans. We follow the 10 principles of fair trade. Most of the products are ethically sourced, recycled, upcycled. However, I’m not satisfied with fair trade, because it’s such an expensive process, and I want to foster small and young artisans who are too small to get certified. I foster them and develop them.

Kasandy is a female-led business, with an almost 100% female workforce. In the future, I’m looking to expand that into all sorts of women. I’d like to focus on differently-abled staff once I have more time and money. In the future, I am hoping to engage Indigenous and immigrant women partners to produce goods for us here. We love to support the community, whenever we can, we donate to a lot of charities and events with donations.

Woman-Owned, Black-Owned Business

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