SHE Spotlight: Global Groove Life

Gina Hope (right), founder of global groove life, Choosing fabrics with Dia (Left), the master tailor and co-op coordinater in Chom Thong Village.

Gina Hope (right), founder of global groove life, Choosing fabrics with Dia (Left), the master tailor and co-op coordinater in Chom Thong Village.

Companies such as Global Groove Life infuse the fair trade market with so much color and joy and LIFE! Here at SHE Changes Everything, one of our favorite things is to connect with the talented, crazy inspirational people and companies that are making a difference in the world and championing sustainable, healthy, ethical (SHE) living.

Gina Hope, founded Global Groove Life with her husband, Greg, in 1997 as a fair-trade, brick and mortar retail shop, and then began developing fair trade lifestyle products in South East Asia, Nepal and India. Today it is a family-run business with their two children.

She is a warm, curious traveler at heart! And her first-hand view of the fair trade industry and all the crazy stories of what needed to successfully launch a family-run company in this space will inspire you. Oh, and she adores pom poms. What's not to love! Enjoy!  

What does your name mean and how did you choose it?

GINA: Global Groove Life is simple. It's a lifestyle built on the vibration of love and trust. We chose this name while traveling in India and Nepal when we were staggered by the smiles, generosity and love we experienced by complete strangers who had close to nothing.  A smile is the same in every language. That is our motto.

Can you tell us a few key moments in the creation of Global Groove Life? Take us back in time with you!

GINA: We're a bit chaos creative here, so I'll go ahead and tell you some of our funnier stories!

1. The first year of business we had a holiday kiosk and were only selling hand-painted Kashmiri Christmas tree ornaments (because why wouldn't everyone in the whole wide world want one)?! Anyhow, the box of “assorted” ornaments arrived and about 75% of them were painted orange! Of all the colors in the rainbow, ORANGE is a very difficult color to pass off for Christmas! Thankfully I got my hands on some cornucopia's and made a bunch of Thanksgiving center pieces but needless to say, the entire family got orange ornaments for Christmas....it's now a Hope holiday tree tradition! 

2. We once traveled overland from Southern India to Nepal with a pack full of the loveliest silk I'd ever seen with no plan of what to do with it.  We arrived in Nepal to find amazingly skilled embroiderer's lining the streets and so were born hand-embroidered silk cushion covers, luxurious enough to be coveted by queens.  Seriously.  I love the unknown in this story, the true journey. With photos flooding the Internet, I fear the sheer wonder of discovery is becoming lost.

3. Okay, scariest moment was when we had finally managed to ship an entire container load from Thailand to California to open a holiday store and we couldn't find a space to rent in all of California. Somehow, someway, making the right phone call at the very right second we ended up getting a 3200 sq. ft. store in a premium location because some corporate store was filing for bankruptcy and was vacating within days. We got that store set up in four days!  Love and trust (and possibly a little bit of pixie dust on that one)! Phew.

THE HOPE Family (KAI, devaki, GINA, AND Greg) traveling in London at St. Paul's Cathedral

THE HOPE Family (KAI, devaki, GINA, AND Greg) traveling in London at St. Paul's Cathedral

You are a member of the Fair Trade Federation! Tell us why you believe fair trade is so important?

GINA: Fair trade is important because it strengthens the ties between communities that produce the products and the end consumers.  At a time when the world is becoming smaller yet more and more automated, it keeps our hands in humanity. 

What is currently the biggest challenge of Fair Trade?

GINA: Education is the biggest challenge.  Even people closest to us confuse the terms Fair Trade and Free Trade and usually use Free Trade when referring to Fair Trade.  They are completely opposite! Interestingly, it seems to be most confusing to Americans, which is somewhat fascinating to me.  The confusion between the words fair and free, is something to look at. Another struggle is the myth that Fair Trade is more expensive.  It's just not. 

Colorful fair trade yoga ball covers and bright pillows from global groove life come in multiple colors and prints! 

Colorful fair trade yoga ball covers and bright pillows from global groove life come in multiple colors and prints! 

It seems too simple to be true…so how does purchasing fair trade support human rights?

GINA: Fair trade is all about the relationship with producers – knowing their circumstances, their skills, what their needs are financially, culturally and even environmentally.

By purchasing fair trade, indigenous communities and largely female-run cooperatives are empowered,which in turn strengthens their social standing and status.

Purchasing fair trade products allow us to continue to work directly with artisans, and influence their standard of living by providing equipment, flexible working hours, and a living wage. Your purchases also enable us to continue to support women's cultural identity and community by offering the opportunity to work from home and stay in their villages, rather than come down to the already crowded and polluted city. 

Chatting with Dia's mother in the Karen Village (Baan Pha Mon). Dia is the master tailor and co-op coordinater in Chom Thong Village.

Chatting with Dia's mother in the Karen Village (Baan Pha Mon). Dia is the master tailor and co-op coordinater in Chom Thong Village.

What do you really want women to know based on the travels you’ve had around the world?

GINA: Support one another.  Empower one another.  We still have a long way to go.

Global Groove Life is a family business, right?! How does this change your approach to business? 

Well, I'm not really sure because it's all I know!  I think what changes our approach to everything is actually the decision we made to raise our children in Asia. The joint family system is the norm and everyone pulls together as a team in all aspects of life. One of my favorite examples was when a friend of mine was setting up a little ceramic shop because her mother had retired and needed something to do. They think like that. That make sure that everyone feels useful. I think that's the takeaway that I apply to our family business. I try to make everyone feel like they participate and that they are useful.

What is the inspiration for your product and fabrics (and what is your personal fav piece!?)

GINA: Travel. Always travel inspired. And sometimes I'm inspired just by dreaming about the next place I'm going. For example, the teal and gray color combo for the flower of life cosmetic bags was inspired by an upcoming trip to Greece. I like to get into the mood. As far as favorite pieces, I'm on a never ending pom-pom kick.  Give me anything with pom-poms and I'm happy!  Seriously, I have to hold back! Doesn't everything look better with pom-poms?

A rainbow of laughter with Jeap, Gina, Joy, Grandma and baby playing with pom-pom colors for the summer collection!

A rainbow of laughter with Jeap, Gina, Joy, Grandma and baby playing with pom-pom colors for the summer collection!

What are your favorite sustainable, healthy, ethical (SHE) brands you use?

GINA: Well I do love my Lush travel shampoo and face creams! I used to have to wait until I travelled outside of Thailand to buy my supply, so I'm thrilled they've just recently opened shop in Bangkok! My new fave SHE item is a product a friend of mine developed in Thailand to help combat the overuse of plastic. The business is called Superbee and they're beeswax coated fabric food covers. Like Saran Wrap, but not. Super colorful, reusable....I even pack a few in my suitcase when we travel, they're so convenient!

What's each of your favorite healthy guilty pleasure when the going gets tough – even if you are halfway around the world?

Gina—Raw Chocolates—I always travel with coconut oil so I bring a bit of raw cacao to make some in case I have an emergency craving!

Greg---Green Tea (he shares)!

Kai---Pinto beans, the boy needs his Mexican food!

Devaki---Pasta, she can only go so many days without it and she could pretty much live on pasta alone ;)

Actually, speaking of travel, you’ve been traveling for decades – way back to the days of the Lonely Planet books (pre-Internet ; )?

Yes, we lived and traveled in that prehistoric world!

What is your best sustainable travel tip for women?

GINA: The Diva Cup changed my life. More luggage space, no more hunting high and low for tampons in strange places, and no more guilty feelings contributing to more waste in countries where it's in-your-face obvious that there is a very big problem figuring out what to do with it all!

How can our readers best link arms and cheer you on??

GINA: It's as simple as ABC.  Join us on the Adventure. Engage in the Beauty that is fair trade by joining our Facebook and/or Instagram communities. Contribute to a healthy, sustainable world by choosing fair trade.