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Local Boutique Sells Fair Trade Clothing and Accessories

Revive ensures people who make its products are paid fairly and treated well

 may look like a regular boutique, but owner Lisa Dunn makes sure she knows exactly how the artisans who design the delicately hand-knit scarves and sparkly hand-crafted jewelry are treated and paid.  

Dunn, a 10-year Heights resident, regularly spends 80 hours a week at the shop, which has locations on Lee Road and at Legacy Village. She handles everything from marketing to human resources. Her husband Korey Freeman, who works his own full-time job, spends weekends maintaining the Revive website. And her mother single-handedly scraped and repainted the boutique’s ceiling.

"It's been blood, sweat and tears literally," Dunn said. "I work morning until night on this, and we don't pay ourselves from Revive, but I didn’t start this business just to make a profit. I wanted to provide artisans with the opportunity to sell their products to new customers.”

Revive, which opened in 2006, carries everything from clothing to pot holders. The two locations employ three full-time and six part-time employees. It was Dunn's dream to open a fair trade store after she went to El Salvador with The InterReligious Task Force on Central America and met women who made their own hand-woven clothing.

She realized she could run a boutique and produce the products ethically.

Brian Stefan-Szittai, program coordinator at The InterReligious Task Force on Central America, said Dunn "has a passion for bringing the handiwork of people from around the world to Cleveland."

She "has taken on this task at great personal sacrifice," Stefan-Szittai continued, "but she is dedicated to alleviating poverty and providing education to poor children."

Revive works with about 70 artisan groups in places as near as Alabama and South Carolina and as far away as Ghana, India and Nepal. Among those groups is a cooperative in India that has more than 2,000 members. Women there receive job training and attend self-esteem and literacy workshops. Among other items, they make purses from recycled saris.

"I have a high standard of what we carry," Dunn said. "These are heirloom-quality pieces."

Dunn said she makes sure that every group she works with offers its members health care and a fair wage. She designs about 20 percent of the products sold at Revive including a moderately priced line of clothing. That line includes Ugandan-made organic cotton tees and tanks from $22. They have the soft feel of jersey knit.

"I hope that people become more aware of what our money is being spent on," said Dunn, 37. "It's so important to support local business."

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