August Fair Trade Spotlight

Zee Bee Market is a fair trade retailer dedicated to socially and environmentally conscious products and practices. The vision of Zee Bee Market is to offer customers the opportunity to learn about and purchase products that care for the people who make them while also protecting the environment. Zee Bee Market was started by owner Julio Zegarra-Ballon as a mobile operation with online retail, and expanded to a permanent location in St. Louis, Missouri in 2014. Zee Bee has been a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation since 2016.

Giving back to artisans and farmers around the world through fair trade and to their local community is core to Zee Bee Market’s values. Their dedication to selling fair trade products from companies verified by the Fair Trade Federation allows Zee Bee Market to support talented artisan groups living in under-developed countries as well as products that are produced with environmentally friendly methods, such as using recycled materials and natural dyes.

In line with these values, Zee Bee Market launched their Giving Back Days program in 2015. The program supports local nonprofit organizations in the St. Louis area through a week-long campaign where 15% of their fair trade product sales, both in store and online, are donated to the partner nonprofit. Additionally, the organization is hosted at Zee Bee Market to share information about their work and to raise awareness. This year, Zee Bee Market has supported five non-profits through their Giving Back Days partnerships, raising $2,600 for their causes.

The most recent Giving Back Days featured the nonprofit group MICA (Migrant & Immigrant Community Action) Project. MICA Project is a community outreach and legal services organization promoting the voices and dignity of immigrant communities. It is the largest provider of nonprofit immigration services in St. Louis. MICA Project provides paths to lawful status and works to ensure that St. Louis immigrant families thrive. They also wish to change the narrative of immigration in the U.S., which too often dehumanizes newcomers based solely on their country of origin. Through their Portraying Humanity photo series, they create a space for their clients to share their experiences with the larger community; to write the narrative for themselves.

Additional local and international nonprofit Zee Bee Market partners have included FTF member Partners for Just TradeHeifer International, and FTF member Global Mamas’ Building Prosperity campaign. Through their Giving Back Days and fundraising programs, Zee Bee Market embodies the values of the fair trade movement: integrity, passion, hard work, and the deep desire to do good through fair trade.

Learn more about Zee Bee Market and their programs on the Zee Bee Market website. They are one of the many FTF members who are deeply committed to the fair trade principles and realizing them in unique and innovative ways. We also encourage you to explore what makes Fair Trade Federation members different or our list of FTF members.

Photo credit: All Across Africa and Zee Bee Market

Rachel-L-SpenceRachel L. Spence (rs@fairtradefederation.org) is the Fair Trade Federation’s Engagement Manager, responsible for communications, public engagement, and advocacy for fair trade principles and practices.