Eau Claire Global Market supports worldwide missions

The event featured 28 vendors with products made around the world


Photo by Owyn Peters

The fourth annual Eau Claire Global Market was held last Saturday at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, where 28 vendors sold products originating from countries throughout the world.

There is a community in Kenya where widows are expected to marry their deceased husband’s brother. The few who reject this custom are ostracized by their society and forced to live on the outskirts, and find ways to support themselves, Karleen Reller said. Their occupations range from seamstresses to paralegals and from stonemasons to caretakers of local orphans.

Reller works for Grandmother Circles and is one of the 28 vendors who sold wares at the fourth annual Eau Claire Global Market. The proceeds from the jewelry and fabric goods that she sells goes directly to supporting this group of women called “Monica’s Group,” after St. Monica, Reller said, as well as supporting girls so they can go to a boarding school high school.

“I’ve been there three times, so we know these people, we stay with these people when we’re there,” Reller said. “And we get to experience how they live in their rural area.”

Tiffany Leighton-Giffey was a lead on the committee that helped plan the event.

“We’re in our fourth year,” Leighton-Giffey said. “Every year we’ve seen growth, which is really exciting.”

The event started as a Serrv sale, Leighton-Giffey said, but after a year off they decided to change the format and have now had multiple vendors for four years running.

Leighton-Giffey said the vendors themselves are primarily out of Wisconsin and Minnesota, but they all have connections to communities worldwide — India, Haiti, Guatemala and South Africa, to name a few.

“None of these people are out here to make a ton of money,” Leighton-Giffey said. “But those that make this a small business purchase their products at a fair wage to provide a living for those who sell them.”

The event itself was the idea of Ginny Close, a member of the First Congregational United Church of Christ on the corner of Broadway Street and Third Street, Leighton-Giffey said, which is where the event has been held each year.

Taylor Hall was selling products produced by a group called Global Mamas in Ghana, which provides prosperity through fair wages, Hall said.

The products she was selling ranged from small fabric bins to headbands and scrunchies, as well as ornaments and jewelry.

Hall said the fabric products were made from organic cotton and hand-dyed using a method called Batik, where the designs are stamped onto the fabric with wax, and then soaked in the dye. Once the fabric is removed from the dye, it is placed in very hot water, which melts the wax off. The process is repeated when more than one color is used on the fabric.

Global Mamas, founded by six Ghanan women and two American women, now sell products  in the U.S., Europe and Australia, Hall said.

“We are supporting people on a local level who are trying to help people abroad,“ Leighton-Giffey said, via scholarships, creating community libraries, providing healthcare and more.

One of the premises of the Global Market is voting with your dollars, Leighton-Giffey said.

On the brochure for the event is a quote from Anne Lappe: “Every time you spend money, you are casting a vote for the type of world you want.”

Leighton-Giffey believes that where we choose to spend money shows what we support. 

“The stories behind it make you really excited about the things you’re purchasing,” Leighton-Giffey said.

For more information on the vendors, the people they support and how to purchase products, visit the Global Market blog or find them on Facebook.

“We’re putting people first,” Hall said.

Hagmann can be reached at [email protected]