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Millennium Goals Get a Boost from a Brooklyn Business
Emily Gertz, 23 Dec 06
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from Worldchanging New York local blog editor Emily Gertz

If you've been walking along 7th Ave. in south Park Slope for the past few years, you've probably noticed the bloom of new small businesses aimed squarely at the steady influx of younger professionals and families into the neighborhood. Greenjeans is one of them: a small, bright space featuring goods made by accomplished artisans all over the United States.

No log cabin quilts, macrame owls, or knitted tea cozies here. Instead, you'll find housewares, textiles, jewelry, art, and other handcrafted goods that combine high quality and classic Americana references with a fresh visual and tactile appeal.

Greenjeans is the brainchild of Jae Kim and Amy Shaw (who also writes the store's fun blog), who've founded the business "on the values of craftsmanship, sustainability, and conscientious living," to provide an alternative to anonymously mass-produced goods, as well as creating a "craftshed" that will bring handmade goods to the city, and send income back to artisans in the region and beyond.

Amy and Jae especially prize wares made from recycled materials, and seek to create a selection at varied prices, so that handmade goods can be accessible to people with different amounts of money to spend. A one-off handmade chair from Greenjeans is certainly a bigger investment than one of its thousands of flatpack distant cousins from Ikea; but buyers have the satisfaction knowing that their hard-earned cash is going to a locally-owned business, as well as an independent crafter. And, the chairs are really comfortable.

Looking for other ways to use their enterprise to make an impact on the things they believe in, Jae and Amy recently invited several artists to create limited edition holiday cards for the store, on 100 percent recycled plain paper card stock that they themselves supplied. The cards cost around $3.50 each (a very reasonable price compared not only to the average drugstore card, but also the schmancier handmade ones you'll see at specialty papers and stationary stores around the city), and all the proceeds of the sale price will go to The Millennium Villages Project, which (according to the project's web site) is investing time, training, and materials in more than 75 villages in ten different countries -- Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda -- so that these communities can improve their health, food production, education, access to clean water, and essential infrastructure via sustainable development -- all crucial components of the Millennium Development Goals identified by the United Nations.

I've enjoyed getting to know Greenjeans duo over the past year, stopping in as I take my walks around the neighborhood -- their entrepreneurial endeavor is a good example of how worldchanging values can inform and drive business, with the potential for big impact in all sorts of ways.

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