Welcome to VillagesAnnArbor.org where it is our profound mission to bring to you the hard work of artists from all around the world in complete adherence to Fair Trade principles. We firmly believe that hand crafted work from the most disadvantaged places on earth can be brought to you with minimal effort while ensuring that the artist is fairly rewarded for their work.

Our business revolves around three distinct areas:

1) Sourcing Art

wood toy1With our close contacts to charities around the world we have been able to make contact with hundreds of artists making everything from sculptures to toys and jewelry. The problem is that in many disadvantaged parts of the world people cannot simply set up an ecommerce store or ebay account to offer their products to people in the Western World.

This is where we step in and organize everything from transportation, customs clearance and direct payment of the artist. We pay upfront for the products they create and offer those products to customers directly in store and online.


2) Educating Artists

wood toy2Because we know what our clients do and don’t like we are able to feed that type of information back to the artist. For example, Christine is a young artist from Kenya who makes the most wonderful toy animals carved from wood. Exotic animals are very popular, but so are our local ones.

By getting some pictures of North American animals like bears, coyotes and eagles, she was able to extend the range of products and she now works full time on her passion while being paid enough for her to be able to feed and educate her three children as well as get all the health care she needs.


3) Educating Our Customers

Through the direct contact with our customers in store we are able to engage with them on how they are helping disadvantaged people. For many people the attraction is that it is not really charity, but an economic exchange where the buyer gets a unique product and the artist gets a fair price.

While Fair Trade is quite common on food produce we are not aware of this having extended to other areas of an economy. This is probably one of the most attractive reasons seen by our customers. Many of our customers have even become volunteers in both our store and in reaching out to people all over the world.

This has helped us establish much better shipping, storage and packaging resources that we simply would not have been able to achieve without the help of others.



I really hope you find the information on this site helpful and would invite you to get in contact with us. If you live in the Ann Arbor, MI area we would love for you to call into our store some time. Alternatively you can visit our Ebay store and directly make an impact on someone’s life by making a purchase. We would also appreciate if you could share our message through one of the social media links on our site.

This entry was posted on February 16, 2016, in Blogging.

Metal Work Art

In this article I want to introduce you a little more to José from Belize, whom we mentioned in our artist stories section a while ago. José is a mechanic by trade and owns his own small car and truck repair shop. Having followed his father and taken over his business he was able to create a reasonable living for him and his family.

JoséHowever, the local economy has been suffering for many years now and it became increasingly difficult for him to provide for his family.

His schooling and education background is remarkably good and above average for his country. He finished school and then went into a formal technical school for welding training. His dad had already taught him all there was to know about the mechanics of cars and trucks, but he still thought it was important to have a formal certification in welding.

It was through the technical school and his welding training tutor that he discovered more than just how to repair metal panels on cars. Something woke up an artistic streak inside him and he took advantage of all the scrap metal at the school to practice his new trade. At first it was just making small toys out of all the discarded pieces of metal that he would bring home to his little brothers.

But then he started making the most wonderful pieces of art that ranged in size from just under a foot to 12 foot tall metal sculptures. He’s back yard at home soon became filled with amazing art and some locals started showing some interest.

I happened to stumble across his work through a friend who had spent some time in Belize as an accountant. By pure chance he noticed some of the art and immediately put me in contact with José.

metal art joseSince then we have become quite close friends and I hope to go and visit him this year. The biggest problem for us now is that the large pieces of art that could make him a lot of money are very difficult to get shipped here to the US.

Between shipping costs and customs problems both in Belize and the US it has proven very difficult to make work. The smaller metal work has become very popular in our store and our ecommerce site, which is a great start for him.

What still surprises me is how a career in welding and metal work was meant to start out by repairing cars and trucks, but now he creates custom artwork for people here in the US. With your help and by sharing this story you can really make a difference to José and his family.

Also, if any of our readers are experts in international shipping and customs, I would appreciate some advice. Just use the contact form above or call into our store and we might be able to work something out that will help bring some of the larger metal work over here.


This entry was posted on February 16, 2016, in Blogging.

Volunteering For A Charity Organisation

New Project with the Paper from the Abandoned Concrete Plant - at MirrorGround - SpiegelGrund am Steinhof - im Spiegel - in the mirror
Source: Flickr

Many individuals volunteer to collaborate with charity organizations. It is an opportunity to help your picked charity by the offering of your time and skills, and also obtaining something back in return. If you intend to aid a charity, as well as you do not have much money to give up the method of donations to your chosen charity, why rule out volunteering?

Relying on what charity you prefer to volunteer for will depend upon specifically what you will do. So, if you are contemplating ending up being a volunteer within the charity there are some basic aspects that you should contemplate. The very first thing to think of is just what you can offer the charity. Check out what skills you have and exactly how they could be of advantage to the charity team. For example, if you are specifically efficient administration then your management abilities could possibly be of terrific advantage to the charity, and this is where you ought to supply your services. It’s no excellent volunteering with a charity as a counsellor if you have no qualifications or encounter in that department. Think of what you could do well and also supply to do it for the charity.

Another point to bear in mind when volunteering for a charity is exactly what you prefer to do. Volunteering in a charity is not nearly what you excellent at; charity job is also concerning what your passion is. For instance, if you appreciate fine art, yet have not had the opportunity to working from it as high as you would certainly such as, after that integrating this with charity operate in a volunteering capability can be a smart idea.

One more aspect when volunteering for a charity is to make a decision how much time you need to donate. Think about the amount of hours every day you can offer to volunteering to a charity. You may just have the ability to visit the charity in the evenings or on weekends, but you need to be aware of just how much time you can give to the charity prior to you volunteer. In this way you will comprehend in advance exactly what is involved in the charity job and also how much you can anticipate to be working.

Volunteering for charity work ought to be helpful to both the volunteer as well as the charity. Along with offering your time to the charity you ought to likewise obtain something from the volunteering job that you do. You should find contentment along with gaining idea into the charity you are working for. Volunteering with a charity is a fantastic means to satisfy new friends, take pleasure in brand-new tasks, and also find brand-new skills whilst helping others at the same time. If you have some downtime on your hands and also would love to be associated with a charity then volunteering is a terrific choice.

Wood Work Art And Music

For this article I want to present another wonderful artisan success story that we have been able to make possible. Our mission is pretty clear and we keep it in mind with everything we do. Help aspiring artists from around the world connect with buyers in the US to achieve much better prices for their work.

A Brazilian Genius

Pedro from Brazil is one such success story and is one of our youngest artists at 22. What is incredible with what Pedro does is that he has combined two of his passions: Music and wood work. As a trained carpenter his dad wanted him to follow in the same footsteps, but he decided to deviate a little into cabinet making which allowed him to work in a more artistic way and environment.

guitarFrom a very early age his grandfather had taught him to play the guitar and as he got older he was fascinated by the different types of guitars and sounds they produce. Then one day, he decided to make his own one.

The first attempts did not work out so well and he soon figured that there was a lot more to it. With no resources or anyone to help him he started on a different approach. The problem was mainly that he couldn’t get a good or consistent sound.

Starting Over

So he basically took an existing guitar and started adding carved wood plates. This resulted in some wonderfully beautiful designs and some local musicians were quick to buy some of his work. He also started buying old electric guitars and carving them into wonderful designs.

But this was just a little side passion and the local market was neither large enough nor was there enough money to help make a living. That is where we stepped in to help him and I am delighted to report that just a few days ago we sold one of Pedro’s 20th guitars.

It is still not a full time income for him but he is starting to make a name for himself oin the intricate designs he comes up with.

The Future

We are planning to reach out to musician here in the US to see if can get to a place where he has a back log of custom orders. So far the response has been good and we are hoping that this will only keep getting better.

As you can see there are some incredibly unique ways that artists figure out how to make a living with their talents and passions. With your help as a supported, buyer or volunteer we are making a real difference in the lives of these people. Check out our designated pages for the various art works we offer and feel free to contact us if you have specific questions.

As always, you can help not just by volunteering, but also by simply sharing these stories with friends and family and maybe buy some of the art we have on offer. They make great gifts for all types of occasions.

This entry was posted on February 5, 2016, in Wood Work.

The Online Art Gallery: Gaining Momentum

The Internet has actually increased our world in numerous ways. Today, with using an on-line fine art gallery, we could get huge exposure for many works of art. If we are good enough, we could even market our art work to the whole world.

Nobody wishes to be a deprived artist, however it can be difficult for an up-and-coming artist to obtain enough people thinking about his or her works to get them to purchase some of it. That’s only one of many factors an online fine art gallery may be a blessing for, and those artists trying to find their big break.

Marketing Online

An online art gallery is an internet site that includes fine art of different kinds. Whether the fine art itself is painting, sculpture, or any other type, the piece can initially be digitally photographed and enhanced and then displayed on the internet site as a page picture. Frequently, an online fine art gallery will certainly display the works of numerous artists simultaneously, or could supply a number of pieces from the very same artist.


In return for this solution, an online gallery might make its money by receiving compensations from the sales of the work of the different artists. Typically, an agreement works wherein any piece that is offered through the on-line art gallery goes through a commission fee process agreement. The gallery withholds the charge once the art is marketed and paid for.

Source: Flickr

This sort of arrangement functions well for both gallery and artist. The creator can showcase their work to a wide target market, without the marketing expense having to come from their own pocket; the on-line fine art gallery benefits because they collect a repayment for the pieces that are offered and have a continuous supply of fine art to attract possible customers.

Other Types of Contract

Nonetheless, not all art galleries on the internet utilize this type of setup. Some choose to bill the artist a charge, which must be paid ahead of time. Normally, this fee is made use of to offset the bandwidth expense sustained by the website owners, as well as the cost for the internet site style itself. The good side of this is the artist will usually not have to pay a payment to the online fine art gallery once the sale is made.

Worldwide Exposure

An essential added positive aspect to utilizing an online art gallery is that the artist obtains direct exposure too. The art gallery earns a profit only when people visit the web site and also purchase from it. Due to the fact that it remains in their own best interest to do so, they will work hard at advertising their online area, which, subsequently, advertises those artists showcased there. For the artist, this implies even more exposure, which can translate into more sales.

If you have an interest in displaying your artwork in such a fashion, you should do some research as not every on-line art gallery is willing to showcase the work of promising artists. A few of the more prestigious galleries favor to concentrate on the jobs of more recognized people.

Whether you are an artist, or just a fine art aficionado, you need to browse the materials of an online art gallery. The level of high quality and the sheer variety of just what you could find can amaze you.