Local Store Supports Artisans: Here and Abroad Earth’s Elements Offers Fair Trade Items Direct from Craftspeople
Hem Rai, owner of Earth’s Elements in downtown Encinitas, has a mission: To provide high quality gifts, furniture, and home décor items made by artisans from around the world and here at home. Honoring the practice known as “fair trade,” Rai travels twice a year to locales such as Nepal, India, Tibet, Bhutan, and Thailand to obtain beautiful items for his new Encinitas shop.
Under the fair trade system, it is the individual artisan who sets the price of his or her work. Since the items are all hand produced, the price is the same whether the order is for one piece or 500 pieces. The middleman or wholesaler is eliminated, and the craftspeople, including apprentices, are paid a fair price. This supports their families and helps keep the crafts alive.
Rai knows the fair trade system well. Some items in his store come from his own family in Katmandu, Nepal. Colorful yarn, scarves, and bags are made by Rai’s aunt and her friends while they stay home with the children. The yoga comfort wear, Rai’s own design, is also made in Nepal. Housewives in Ghana make the colorful baskets and cottage workers in India create the beautiful quilts hanging from the walls of the shop.
Earth’s Elements features unique furniture designed in Bali. The pieces are made from dead mahogany and rosewood trees rather than cutting live trees. The shop also offers tables and chairs made of tree roots from Thailand. The final polishing is done here using eco-friendly water-based finishing.
Rai designs silver jewelry, then purchases the raw materials and stones and contracts with silversmiths in Bali to produce the items. He also purchases from a local artist who uses beads from Africa, Asia and the Middle East to create one-of-a-kind art jewelry pieces. Another local artist makes handmade paper scrolls. Rai also plans to feature books by local authors on spiritual topics and to host book signing events.
Guests at Earth’s Elements are treated chai tea made from Himalayan spices, making their shopping experience a feast for the senses as well as a way to support artisans throughout the world.
Earth’s Elements is located at 559 South Coast Hwy 101 in downtown Encinitas. For more information call 760-230-6145 or email [email protected].
ELAINE'S PUBLISHER'S PICK:
I dropped in on Earth Elements as they were opening their doors for business one morning. The minute I walked in the door, I was warmly greeted by the owner, Hem Rai, who instantly rolled out the welcome mat for me. I was served the best homemade tea I have ever tasted and spent a very memorable 20 minutes sitting on the couch talking with Hem.
While there, I felt like I was in the comfort of my own home. Hem was such a gracious host. He is interesting, charming, unique and inviting. His shop is a perfect reflection of his personality—it, too, is warm and inviting, charming, and filled with unique items from Nepal.
Stop in for a taste of Hai's tea and hang out for as long as you like. You will discover there is not any pressure but a welcoming yearning to stay. Enjoy.