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INSTYLE GUIDE | Vol. 10, No. 49, December 11, 2008
(Stopping The Runaway Train)

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Global Owl

by Jahna Jacobson

Local gift shop has global impact

Whether you want to give global and green this year or just give great and gorgeous, the Global Owl has an eclectic collection of home items, toys and jewelry for everyone on your list.

Pensacola's only Fair Trade store features products from around the world that reflect the unique cultures and traditions of their artist creators.

New for the holidays, the store is featuring nativity scenes in a variety of styles, materials and sizes, from tiny painted scenes to ornate carvings. The store also carries a wide range of ornaments, from scenes carved in gourds that originate from Peru to reindeer created from brightly colored, recycled soda cans from Africa.

Owner Kathleen Mooney says she had always wanted to open a gift shop, but when she started looking into Fair Trade and its global impact, the dream became a calling.

"It's a unique gift shop, and something that gives back," Mooney says. "It's rewarding and timely. I like the idea that I'm helping other people."

Fair Trade helps the economically and politically disadvantaged around the world by ensuring fair compensation for products and labor, equal pay for men and women, safe working conditions and no slave or child labor.

"The items we carry are environmentally responsible," Mooney says. "They are recycled and renewable resources."

The store carries beautiful gifts, including jewelry, purses, scarves, toys, quilts, pillows, books and wall decor. The bright colors and rich textures reflect the diverse cultures represented by the handcrafted pieces.

One of Mooney's favorites for kids is an unbelievably soft, knitted alpaca hat from South America. Another eye-catching piece is a trendy, pop-art clutch woven from recycled candy wrappers in Mexico.

"You are not only going to find unique gifts that you won't find anywhere else, but they are gifts that have a lot of meaning because you are making a difference in someone's life."

Many of the items are created by co-op groups. The co-ops provide opportunities to women, many of them single mothers, to start businesses, support each other and find success together. Some of the co-ops are successful enough to lend money to other small businesses, to open daycare centers and to provide scholarships for women who want to become teachers, Mooney says.

The store also carries items created by and benefiting groups in the U.S., such as a line of soaps from the Enterprising Kitchen in Chicago.

Since the store opened, animal-themed items made of wood, metal and soapstone have been big sellers, as have baskets, wooden bowls and brightly colored throw pillows.

Many items range in price from $5 to $30.

The in-stock items are always changing, sometimes because of the political and economic events in the countries where the artists live.

Mooney says she acts quickly after a crisis to check on the people she has come to know through their art.

"It shrinks the world for you," she says.