Peace by Piece fair trade / A Different Approach
Peace by Piece fair trade began over 15 years ago as “A Different Approach”,a fair trade retail store in New Orleans, LA. Founded by Brenda Nims, the store was one of the pioneers in offering exclusively fair trade products to its customers. After traveling throughout Central America for a year, Brenda became fascinated with the amazing pottery and wonderful people she found in Nicaragua and began to buy direct from the artisans. The beauty and craftsmanship of her pieces attracted much attention and soon Brenda was importing for many other retailers as well, leading to the establishment of the wholesale operation.
In 2009, after 15 years of supporting families and communities and promoting economic opportunities thru her fair trade efforts, Brenda decided to make a career change in order to concentrate on her family. Her search for someone who would share in her passion for fair trade and her commitment to the artisans with whom she worked, lead her to a couple serving, at that time, in the Peace Corps in Central America. Brian and Nancy Benn were working in the Republic of Panama as community economic development and children’s education volunteers when they and Brenda connected. They had already begun developing a plan for a fair trade business upon finishing their service, and the opportunity with A Different Approach seemed like an ideal fit.
Upon their return to the United States in November 2009, Brian and Nancy got busy right away, first getting resettled, and then working with Brenda to organize their new business. In July 2010, Peace by Piece fair trade officially took over the operations of A Different Approach. The first year was very busy and challenging between organizing the business and making several trips to meet with artisans, designers, and export coordinators. And everyone who manages a business or non-profit understands the time and effort required for trade shows, building websites, and of course, accounting systems. But now the basics are in place and PxP is focused on providing outstanding customer service, quality products, and imaginative designs for their customers, and economic opportunity and advancement for the artisans and communities with whom they work.
As we enter our second year, we are proud of the organization we have created, the relationships we have established with our customers and artisans, and especially, the beautiful products we are offering. Our Nicaraguan pottery line has expanded greatly in the number of pieces, as well as, wonderful designs and styles. It has been a pleasure being associated with fair trade and to be able to continue the type of work we were involved with during our service in the Peace Corps.
Brian and Nancy Benn:
Brian and Nancy Benn had lived and worked in Atlanta, GA for 30 years prior to selling their home, cars, and packing thier possessions in a storage unit to follow a long standing desire to serve their country and to help the world's poor by joining the Peace Corps. Nancy had worked in the health insurance field, while Brian had been a manager of several sales and distribution companies over his career. They have been married for 30 years and now live in Asheville, NC. Prior to their Peace Corps service, both had been very active in volunteer work including Big Brothers of America, Literacy Missions, the Council on Battered Women, Boys Clubs of America, and several church based homeless shelters and tutoring programs. Nancy was born and raised around the Atlanta area, while Brian moved to Atlanta from his childhood home in Pennsylvania.