Elegant Roots and Turquoise Mountain

A Social Biz Teams with a Not-For-Profit
Nov 5, 2010 9:00 AM ET

ElegRoo Blog

On a 2004 state visit to Britain, Afghan President Hamid Karsai discussed with Prince Charles the imminent loss of Afghanistan’s traditional crafts and how revival of those arts would help renew a sense of national identity. Prince Charles, an aficionado of traditional arts, committed to help. He raised seed money for a charitable foundation and enlisted his friend (and former tutor to his sons), Rory Stewart, to lead the effort.

As Executive Director, Stewart, (author of The Places In Between and now a Member of Parliament), shaped a 3-pronged mandate for the non-profit TM: regenerating Murad Khane, Kabul's ancient art center; establishing artisan collectives to renew traditional Afghan arts and architecture, and spur sustainable development; and to establish schools.

In 2007, Rob Favole and his team began turning a concept, an idea, into a social business, ElegantRoots.com designed specifically to serve people, planet, profits.

In October 2008 -- exactly the time that The Great Depression became a topic for current events, ElegantRoots was launched as an online boutique offering design-forward jewelry and accessories For Her, For Him and furnishings For Home – and all of it is green, either eco-conscious, socially responsible, or both.

One Elegant notion is that traditional arts and artisan techniques when applied to updated designs can support traditional lifestyles around the globe, bringing some benefits of globalization to those who had previously been on the margins, or worse, had been victims of globalization’s press for cheap labor.

The ElegantRoots.com team sees its place as helping to provide access to the wide US markets for artisans from outside as well as within the US. And to provide them some measure of recognition through a commitment to transparency. Thus, for each product, the Roots, or story, is presented through “our 4 Ws” (who made it, where, from what, and, why, beyond its beauty and function, it is a worthy purchase) and our designer profiles. This transparency also serves ElegantRoots.com customers, enabling an informed selection that allows them to align their purchases with their values. Everyone wins -- from artisan, to customer, to recipient of an ElegantRoots.com gift -- upon delivery of an item of greater meaning than even its beauty or soulful qualities.

Meanwhile ... to achieve the revival of Afghan arts and the creation of a thriving art and design community, Rory Stewart brought in to Turquoise Mountain many talented volunteers – architects, urban planners, engineers, and artists. Among them was Pippa Small, renowned designer and anthropologist, whose design brilliance resulted in “Pippa Small for Turquoise Mountain”, a line designed around Afghanistan's native raw gems. All TM's products are hand-crafted in TM's Kabul studios by master artisans using materials indigenous to Afghanistan.

Turquoise Mountain has restored many of Murad Khane’s historic buildings, employing many talented wood carvers and bringing life back to the arts center; has created the Institute for Traditional Afghan Arts to pass along the skills, create employment and preserve these arts; has created primary schools for children many of whom had never been to school before; and has created a girls’ school.

There could be no better match than that of Turquoise Mountain and ElegantRoots.com. TM's vision is to revive and restore Afghanistan's traditional arts and thereby revive Kabul's art center. ElegRoo's is to open the US market to artisan products made by applying traditional techniques to new designs to help preserve traditional lifestyles.

Now, Turquoise Mountain and ElegRoo have teamed up to bring the compelling jewelry designs of Pippa Small for Turquoise Mountain to the wide American market.

Wearing this hot designer jewelry with cool raw emeralds, rubies, amethysts or lapis promotes fair trade. Join Prince Charles, Pippa Small, Rory Stewart and the international community in remaking Afghanistan. And support our troops' efforts to bring stability and security through economic development and opportunity.

TM has moved mountains in pursuit of these ends. Now you can help and wear the hottest pieces. Visit ElegantRoots.com and open the American market to Turquoise Mountain's jewelry and silk.