As published by and

July 17, 2017

cloth gift wrapping bag

Ellyn Ito, Founder and Executive Director of Seeds to Sew with Teresa Njuma, one of the seamstresses in Enkiteng Program sewing Enkiteng bags (eco-friendly reusable cloth gift wrapping bags)

Seeds to Sew International, Inc., a Hopewell-based 501(c)(3) organization has passed the stringent requirements of the governing body and is now a proud new member of the Fair Trade Federation. The Fair Trade Federation is the trade association that strengthens and promotes organizations fully committed to fair trade.

The Fair Trade Federation is a membership organization, not a certifying body. Rather than certifying individual products, businesses must go through a rigorous screening process in order to become members. This screening is a holistic evaluation of the business’s fair trade practices.

“It means that supporting fair partnerships with the women and girls involved in our programs is the primary goal of ours. We aim — above all — to improve the lives of our participants and their communities,” said Ellyn Ito, the Founder and Executive Director of Seeds to Sew. “We invest completely in those who make the products that we sell, which is a rarity for many, and we are proud that this sets us apart in the fair trade movement.”

“We have always adhered to all nine fair trade principles by default, and it is rewarding to see it being recognized,” added Nina Moukova, the organization’s Operations Manager. “We are extremely proud of our work and accomplishments. We look forward to growing our operations and empowering more women, helping them become part of their economy, and helping underprivileged girls pursue their dream of education.”

Seeds to Sew’s mission to improve the lives of women and girls in disadvantaged communities through education and job skills training. Currently, they work with women and girls in subsistence farming villages in rural Kenya. The participants in Seeds to Sew programs are learning how to sew by making eco-friendly Enkiteng bags (cloth gift wrapping bags). Mothers make jewelry and handicrafts as a way to pay for school tuition for their daughters and nieces.

Githomo crafts

Founder and Executive Director of Seeds to Sew Ellyn Ito, left, with Mercy, one of the artisans making Githomo gifts using banana tree bark sisal and other natural materials.

All products are sold in the US market at the Seeds to Sew store at 16 Seminary Avenue in Hopewell, NJ, on their website and through various resellers such as Ebb, Sticks and Stones, Friends Salon, and T. Johnson Design in Hopewell, Pennington Market and Chance on Main in Pennington, and My Fair Trade Lady in Haddon Heights, NJ, African Endeavor in New Hope, PA.

Seeds to Sew further collaborates with other area community organizations to improve the lives of those in need. This July, several Hopewell Valley Central High School students and teachers will be traveling to Kenya with Global Connections, a service-learning organization founded by HVCHS science teacher, Dr. David Angwenyi. They will be building upon Seeds to Sew programs in Kenya first initiated by students who travelled there last summer.