Sunday, May 09, 2010

Bargainista interviews Patricia Pinkney from Pangea Collection

Patricia Pinkney introduced herself to me on Twitter last winter. We got to know each other on Twitter a bit and I invited her for a Bargainista interview to learn more about Patricia and the work she’s doing with the Pangea Collection – her fair trade jewellery business.

What can you tell us in a nutshell about your different collections?
The name Pangea Collection comes from the name of the continent “Pangea” (or “Pangaea”) which was the name of the super continent that existed before the break up of the continents as we know them today. The idea is brings the world back together again so you can find all the beautiful fair trade and artisan jewellery from around the world in one easy place, at a click of a mouse.

Each jewellery collection reflects the culture from which it originates. Pangea Collection has jewellery from Asia, Africa, North and South America and Europe. Some of these jewellery crafting techniques date back centuries. Purchasing a piece of jewellery from these fair trade and independent artisans not only helps the artisan achieve the art of self reliance but also helps to preserve traditional techniques which might otherwise be lost if a market couldn't be found for their jewellery artwork.

Pangea Collection jewellery is fashionable AND socially conscious. That's what our customers love about Pangea Collection jewellery. They feel like they have a little piece of culture adorning them and they feel good about supporting the artisan.

Our most popular collections include the Handmade Silver Jewelry from Mexico, the Bali Jewelry (Harmony Balls in particular) and the Fair Trade Indian Jewelry.

What type of customer do you have in mind when choosing pieces for your collection?
Pangea Collection customers look for pieces that reflect their personality. Jewellery that they won't find at mass stores or shopping malls. They like to travel and explore different cultures and usually shop when travelling. I look for jewellery that reflects the cultural origins and when our customers wear them they will get that "that's beautiful, where did you get that?" question. They can then tell the story of the jewellery, it's origin and artisan who handcrafted it. Our customers love that.

Where can Bargainista readers buy items from Pangea Collection? – everything is available online, starting at just $20 including free shipping! That's a bargain, for a bargainista!

What inspires you?
Travel and the discovery of how much beautiful creative work there is in the world. I am also inspired by women entrepreneurs, especially women in developing markets who start businesses even under very challenging market conditions and through pure persistence make a viable business to support their families.

I‘m also a huge fan of micro financing and organisations like Opportunity International. For as little as a $50 loan, a women in a developing market can use that loan to start a business.

What would you like people to know about your approach to jewellery?
That I seek the world to find the most beautiful jewellery pieces that are handcrafted by fair trade and independent jewellery artisans so that every woman can feel beautiful. The woman who wears it and the women (and sometimes men) who handcraft it.

I am aware of trends and always keep them in mind but that is not what drives my buying. I look for jewellery that I would feel great wearing today and in 20 years. Sometimes a piece that Pangea Collection has had in stock already becomes “trendy” the next season.

Why Twitter? Is it helping you build your business? How do you know? Are you using other social media tools? Which ones and why?
Twitter (@pangeacollecton – no “i” in collection) and other social media are fascinating. I use both, Facebook more than Twitter but I really need to find more time to use Twitter. These social media tools aren’t really driving sales for Pangea Collection but they really do help me from other business perspectives such as finding new artisans understanding who is talking about issues that are important to us and connecting with media, etc.

How do I know if social media is successful? I measure everything I do. I use the available free tools to measure success of any initiative that Pangea Collection uses.

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