Baton Rouge’s first fair trade shop celebrates its forever home in Mid-City

Baton Rouge is home to many locally owned mom and pop shops. Each one you enter has a unique story behind it. But every now and then, you stumble across a shop that brings a whole new meaning to supporting local. This is what you will find if you ever come across The Hope Shop in Mid-City.

Photo courtesy of The Hope Shop 

Rebecca Gardner is the founder and creator of the only fair trade shop in Baton Rouge, The Hope Shop. But before Gardner opened her doors to the community in May 2020, her time was devoted to her non-profit, Hands Producing Hope.

“Hands Producing Hope works with disadvantaged women around the world and helps provide them with job opportunities and education,” said Gardner.

It all started in 2010, when Gardner was living in Costa Rica. She met an oppressed community of women stricken by poverty, but skilled in working and dreaming. Gardner saw an opportunity and ran with it.   

“We started The Hope Shop to create a permanent space for our artisans’ goods,” said Gardner. “We have our own women’s cooperatives in Rwanda and Costa Rica, and we work with refugees here in Baton Rouge.”

Photo courtesy of The Hope Shop

For Gardner, the goal of opening a fair trade store became a no brainer.

“With fair trade, you are tangibly helping a community rise above poverty because they are actually being paid well and you know that they have good working conditions and that they are really treated with human dignity,” said Gardner.

The Hope Shop sits tucked away on Government St. It offers different items for purchase including clothing, accessories, home goods, body care, children pieces and gift items. Each item comes from one of 15 different fair trade organizations across the world including Haiti, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and many more.

Each purchase from the store goes directly back into the nonprofit, Hands Producing Hope, “which helps us hire more women and grow our educational programs,” said Gardner.

Photo courtesy of The Hope Shop 

It’s a step in the right direction, starting with the Baton Rouge community and expanding to others across the world.

“To me, it shows progress in our city because the concept of the story is something that isn’t new, and stores like us do exist all over the country, but it is something that has not taken off in our city,” said Gardner. “I am pretty honored that we get to pave the way in our city of people understanding the impact they can make with their purchase. Our city, little by little is moving in a really great direction.”

If you are interested in visiting The Hope Shop, click here or shop online at handsproducinghope.org.