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Lofty ideals inspire Westmoreland craft shop

A small craft store in Westmoreland is inspired as much by lofty ideals as it is by commercial success. The business, called “Elevation Trade”, is across the street from the Sellwood-Moreland Post Office, at 1520 S.E. Bybee Boulevard. It features items for home and closet made by local and global artisans. Owner Shaunessi Lamm sells items that are recycled, organic, handmade, and “fair trade”-based. “Our goal was not to be just another import place; we wanted to carry unique items and deal directly with the artisans.

by: RITA A. LEONARD - Shaunessi Lamm displays the sort of Nepalese rice sack she and her mother use to make colorful tote bags (background). Selling these bags at local markets led the duo to decide to open their own store, 'Elevation Trade' in Westmoreland.“We aim to elevate the economy and personal living conditions of third-world craftsmen, selling handcrafted items made from recycled materials,” she explains. “It’s a way to respect the planet by reducing waste, while at the same time offering artisans a way to earn a living.”

Lamm grew up in Nepal, but returned to America as a teen. She now lives in the neighborhood, but felt a need to reconnect with Nepalese culture. “Support for our business has been amazing,” she says. “We already have repeat customers, and everyone has been so welcoming. We hope to attract more local artisans as well.”

Inspiration for the shop originated with colorful tote bags made from used rice sacks by native craftsmen in the Himalayas. “When Portland passed the ban on plastic grocery bags, the idea just clicked,” remarks Lamm. “Along with my mother, Maureen Sherpa, we started as a wholesale business in January of last year. The response was great, and we also sold some at street fairs.”

Conversations with other crafters at the fairs inspired the duo to open the Westmoreland outlet. The store features such items as tote bags, clothing, jewelry, cards and prints, natural juniper candle holders, hemp yarn, wind chimes and rain chains, and clocks made from used vinyl records. The shop provides “fair trade” merchandise, and also donates part of their profits to Mercy Corps International and KIVA.org, an organization that provides “micro loans” to women trying to support their families.

“We design all of our clothing here,” explains Lamm, a former graphic artist. “We go to Nepal with specific designs in mind, and work directly with artisans there to determine style and fabric. We feel it’s like extending an economic lifeline to a culture where so many people are living on the edge. I’m pleased to have found this way to do something useful with my life.

“About half our stock comes from local artisans, and half comes from Nepal. I’m going there next week with my teenage daughter. I want her to get a sense of recycling and respecting labor. Our motto here is ‘reduce, reuse, and respect’.”

Elevation Trade is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am-6 pm, and Sundays, 11 to 5 pm. Phone them at 503/869-5542, or find out more online at: www.elevationtrade.com