Venture Imports Soapstone
Venture Imports is owned and operated by Jennie Nichols. She is a graduate of Calvin College, where she earned an undergraduate degree in Economics with a minor in Third World Development. Her studies nurtured her belief that where one is born oftentimes unfairly dictates their opportunities in life. This, in turn, fostered a desire to help balance the scales of that inequity.
During a college trip to South Africa, she came to believe that a good way to help people in developing countries is to provide them a market to sell their goods, so, in 2001 she started Venture Imports with that goal in mind.
After graduating Jennie returned to Africa to look for products and meet local artists. This time, in addition to returning to South Africa, she expanded her visit to include Kenya and Zimbabwe. As the business grew, Jennie went on to travel to Mexico, Panama, Bolivia, and Morocco and has been able to expand the product line to include various goods from those countries. With success came opportunities to make real differences in the lives of the artists abroad who have benefited in various ways.
Most of the artists use the money for basic necessities like food for their families and school fees for their children. While the money is usually a survival tool, some of them, like Samuel, are able to use some of the money to provide for HIV orphans. Every dollar makes an impact: in a country like Zimbabwe, where unemployment is so high, it typically takes only one person with a job to provide for an entire extended family.
Venture Imports subscribes to the principals and standards of Fair Trade, following these principles:
Producers receive a fair wage in the local context.
Producers work in healthy and safe working conditions in the local context.
We strive to establish long-term relationships with our partners.
We respect the cultural identity of our partners.
We work to protect the environment.
In 2009, Venture Imports expanded to include sculptures from Kenya, acquiring the Kisii soapstone product line from Bright. Today Venture Imports is the exclusive distributor for the Kisii soapstone hearts, turtles and dishes we are proud to offer at The Cottage. These colorful little items are great pickup gifts that graciously, lovingly tell someone that you were thinking of them while on your visit to Jekyll Island.
“Adding Value to Others Lives While Adding Beauty to Ours."