The Good-Buy Girl
There have been growing pains, of course. But Shalit doesn't have time to pay much notice. Traveling back and forth between the company's offices—in Manhattan, Santa Fe, and Kigali, Rwanda's capital—she is taking her vision further. Beginning this fall, Fair Winds Trading will import silk accessories (purses, clutches, jewelry cases) from Cambodia, handcrafted (using ancient techniques) by artisans, some of whom are battered women and land mine victims. Indonesian bowls and picture frames made with seashells, bamboo, driftwood, and coconuts will also be added. "I like to find objects that suggest something about the country from which they come," Shalit says. "The women of Rwanda created their baskets as a way to weave a kind of peace. The people of Indonesia, who have faced so many natural disasters, use pieces of their environment to see meaning in what's happened to their nation. I find that very powerful. Stories—that's what sells these items."
That, and—not to be shallow—good looks. "It would be a different business if the things Willa finds weren't of the highest quality and extremely attractive," Lundgren says. Because they are, Macy's is putting a major push into a new online boutique called Shop for a Better World, in partnership with Fair Winds Trading. "If you shop wisely," Shalit says, "you get to own this really wonderful object and also transfer money to those who need it—in a straight line. It goes right from you to people who may have lived only by barter and never held cash in their hands before. That's a very direct way to effect reform. It's not abstract; it's not a fantasy. It's real. Let's hear it for consumers! You have the power to change the world."