Buvette Masthead

Global Sisters: Celebrating ethical shopping

Elizabeth Harris

Many a social enterprise will boast about “thinking globally and acting locally.”

Global Sisters, however, will do you one better: the initiative makes the ‘global’ local, and encourages a sense of international sisterhood which crosses boundaries to lift women out of poverty.

Recently shortlisted as one of three local organisations nominated to receive a grant from Capital Giving, Global Sisters is an online platform which aims to provide women with the resources to turn their own ideas into flourishing businesses.

“[We] take the ingenuity and drive of Australia’s most disadvantaged and harnesses it to help create profitable and sustainable businesses,” explains Olivia Loadwick, Chair of Global Sisters.

The organisation supports a range of programs to support entrepreneurs, including their unique Sister School. The School provides foundational business knowledge and acumen, with the aim of helping the 11 participants (most of whom are ESL and refugees) launch their new businesses.

Participants in the program are also paired with a business coach or team of coaches, all of whom are Canberra locals, including Nicole Damiani (Farmer’s Daughter) and Maarten Vlot (a legal advisor).

The end product is The Market by Global Sisters, a luxe, ethical store which sells products created by Canberra Sisters.

Although it would be easy to buy everything on The Market, here are some of our top picks.

Fabulous Fox by Teepaw, $50


Handmade from traditional fabric created by Burmese hill tribes, this adorable creature is filled with recycled fabric stuffing. Jennifer Teepaw Lowe, the owner of Teepaw – meaning ‘water flower’ – hand-crafts animals, bags and dolls. Growing up in Karen, Burma, Jennifer hopes that Teepaw will keep the Karen culture alive, through utilising traditional weaving methods alive.

Jennifer Teepaw Lowe

Jennifer Teepaw Lowe

Fleeing Burma to a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border in 1984, Jennifer has not only built her own business but works with refugees to cross language barriers. We think that’s a good enough reason to adopt this fantastic fox.

Soft Khadi Cushion Cover by Cloth & Co, $95


What better way to bring a touch of luxury to your home in these brisk winter months than this delicate, hand dyed cushion cover crafted by Cloth & Co?

Each cover is made from traditionally woven, luxuriously soft Khadi fabric in tones to suit any home. Made by women in rural villages in India, Khadi is a traditional form of weaving popularised by Mahatma Ghandi himself in 1918.

Tassel Earrings by Gypsy, $30


Handmade earrings featuring glass beads and multicoloured cotton tassels, these earrings are the perfect gift with an ethical touch.

Designed by Melbourne-based jewellery designer Maria Alejandra, these delicate, dangling decorations pay homage to Maria’s Chilean background. Originally working as a journalist in Chile, Maria turned to jewellery design when language barriers prevented her from continuing her journalism career in Australia.

Schooled in traditional jewellery making in the style of the city of Rancagua, Chile, Maria works with aluminium and Chilean materials including copper and lapis lazuli.

Find more ethical gifts and goodies at globalsisters.org.


Elizabeth Harris

Elizabeth Harris is currently studying Law and Arts at the ANU. She majors in Art History and has a minor in French. She has a hunger for fashion and food, and is a lover of the fabulous Canberra arts scene and many farmers’ markets. She has a deep interest in the intersection between the arts and law, and hopes to undergo further study in this area. Alternatively, she dreams of writing an art history thesis on the subject of memes. She can commonly be found enjoying a delicious cappuccino at any one of Canberra’s staple cafes, but particularly Tilley’s which she has frequented since she was four years old. When she grows up/old she wants to be just like Iris Apfel. More about the Author