RYE, N.Y. – Inspired by worldwide travels as an international humanitarian lawyer, Natalie Kabasakalian opened The Kindly Fruits, a new boutique in Rye that sells handmade, ethically sourced and fair trade gifts from around the world.
“I have a great love for handicrafts, particularly textiles, and I wanted to be able surround myself with this stuff and bring it to other people,” she said. “It’s important for me with my human rights orientation to do it in a way that’s really about putting front and center that things can be made beautifully without exploitation.”
No, The Kindly Fruits does not sell fruits and vegetables, as the name may suggest, says Kabasakalian, though that does seem to be a common misconception. The store’s name comes from the Litany in the Book of Common Prayer: “That it may please thee to give and preserve to our use the kindly fruits of the earth, so as in due time we may enjoy them, we beseech thee to hear us good Lord.”
“I liked it as a name for the shop because it incorporates the ideas of stewardship, mindful cultivation and gratitude, which are central to the fair trade movement's ethos,” Kabasakalian said.
Fair trade is a trading partnership that “seeks greater equity in international trade” to secure the rights of marginalized producers and workers, according to the World Fair Trade Organization.
The Kindly Fruits opened at 15 Purchase St. on Black Friday. Kabasakalian said she is having some difficulty getting the word out about her store: It has a temporary sign in the front door window for now and despite its downtown address is located slightly off the beaten path for shoppers. It is blocked from street view, situated near Arcade Books but facing City Hall and the Rye Free Reading Room.
“What I liked about the Rye community is that there is definitely a cosmopolitan element here. I thought there’s no place quite like what I wanted to do, and I thought that there would be a receptive market here – there are people who are careful about what they buy, in the sense that they care about where their things come from,” said Kabasakalian, a New Rochelle resident.
The Kindly Fruits is chock full of things for the shopping explorer, from unique organic cotton coyuchi sleepwear, pillows from India and Vietnam, handmade jewelry from Tibet and decorative statues to fair trade coffee and tea, handmade paper, Peruvian dolls and ceramic kitchenware.
This season one of The Kindly Fruits’ most popular items is artisanal organic chocolates made with fair trade chocolate.
“If you’re buying chocolate that isn’t fair trade, it’s most likely made with slave labor,” she said. “I would like to let people know about that and make them more conscious of their buying decisions.”