A small fair-trade stop offers kinder ways to shop

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Audra Dick, Staff Writer

With Black Friday and the holidays approaching, many people are opening their wallets to give back to the community and purchasing presents for loved ones. But what if you could do both in the same store?

A new shop in Lakeland has solved that question. A Kind Place, owned by Ida and Nate Mundell, is a place where you can buy meaningful gifts and help make a difference in someone’s life too.

“Everything in the shop is either from a local artist or it’s from a fair-trade or a giveback company,” Ida said. “So obviously we believe in local art, because if you look around the walls and just look around the shop there’s so many local artists represented, that’s one way we give back. If you don’t value the art community, you might not think that that’s giving back, but imagine Lakeland without art.”

One of the artists that’s featured in the shop is Ian Millican, the owner of It’s Ian’s Arts. Millican creates digital designs and then prints them on t-shirts, greeting cards, bags and more.

Personally, his cards are some of my favorite to look at when I go to A Kind Place. They’re very cheerful and are honestly my go-to cards when I’m wishing someone a happy birthday or even a seasonal message. What’s special about Ian and his designs are that they’re “powered by AWEtism.”

“I am like most young adults,” Millican’s website says. “I hate getting up early in the morning. I prefer flip-flops over shoes. I love French-fries and surfing the net…people say I have a unique talent, digital art. I just like designing and creating with vivid colors… I can make a design just for you. You will love it! Oh, and I have autism.”

The shop also carries fair-trade items, which means that whoever makes the items, (farmers, workers, laborers, etc.) are fairly compensated for. One company that Ida highlighted is called MudLOVE.

“One bracelet is a week of clean drinking water for someone,” Ida said. “So rather than going to a big-box store and buying a bracelet, you’re literally changing the world for someone.”

The shop has items not just from the states, but from all around the world. Places like Haiti, Guatemala, Peru and Africa all have artisans who are apart of the fair-trade business.

“Each one of those separate companies are supporting artisans that might not otherwise have an opportunity,” Ida said.  “So when you shop here you’re supporting our local economy, but you’re also supporting people spread all over the world and giving them an opportunity they might not otherwise have.”

So how can students, businesses and organizations get involved? The answer is simple, Ida says.

“Taking what you have in your hands, and using it for something that is greater than yourself,” Ida says. “Like you do your talent, you do you. It doesn’t always have to be this big dinner or this big thing. We can use what’s in our hands for great, great things.”