Carol Schillios, founder of the downtown Edmonds Fabric of Life store, announced Monday that she is closing the doors of her Fair Trade shop in downtown Edmonds as of Dec. 31.
Schillios, who spent 113 days on the store roof four years ago to raise money for her Fabric of Life Foundation, said she will transition her efforts to online retail and wholesale aimed at Fair Trade retailers.
“The non-profit retail shop has served its purpose of funding our pilot program in Mali, West Africa, where young women go from begging to self-sufficient artisans,” Schillios said. “The whole point of development is to help people help themselves. Now that graduates have market-ready products, they are ready for wholesale. We’re closing our non-profit store, because we want to re-direct our rising overhead costs to help more beggars off the streets through broader wholesale distribution.”
While on the roof from July-November 2009, Schillios raised nearly $100,000 to help people become self-sufficient in both the U.S. and developing nations. The Fabric of Life Foundation’s non-profit store, run by volunteers, made it possible for graduates in Mali to market-test their products and form their own artisan wholesale co-op this year, she noted in her announcement.
A struggling economy due to war in Mali meant that even more girls were begging on the streets, so the Fabric of Life Foundation will expand its efforts there and fund future students through a new sponsorship program and online wholesale and retail sales, she said.
Schillios invites people to sponsor students through the foundation and follow them as they become skilled artisans in less than two years. “Saving a child from begging on the streets is a gift that keeps giving,” Schillios said. Through Dec. 31, you can sign up at the shop to fund a student. After Dec. 31, become a sponsor at the Fabric of Life website: www.fabricoflife.org.
“The Edmonds community has been a blessing these past five years because people shopped Fair Trade at our store — our social non-profit business funded the wholesale start-up.” Schillios said. She also expressed pride in the volunteers who gave their time and talents to the store since its opening October 2008.
In addition to her work with the Fabric of Life Foundation, Schillios said she will continue her full-time work as a consultant for credit unions across the U.S. and microfinance institutions in developing countries.
As to whether she plans to go back on the roof any time soon, Schillios said, “If that’s what it takes to help more begging girls off the streets then bring on the tents!”