Tango Zulu Blog Redirect

Hello, readers! We are retiring this blog and invite you to follow us at our other Tango Zulu blog. We have maintained a Blogspot blog since 2010 and have decided that one is enough. We hope to see you over there so you can keep with our adventures in fair trade. Cheers!

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Celebrate Fair Trade Month with Tango Zulu Imports!

Check out this cute cat and mouse that arrived at Tango Zulu Imports just  in time for Fair Trade Month! Made of soapstone, this beautiful item hand-carved by Teresa Moraa of Kisii, Kenya empowers her and women like her to provide an education for her children.
Here at TZI, we are proud to be part of the Fair Trade movement and invite you to come visit us to see how you can become a part of improving lives and protecting the environment while enjoying quality products!. In the meantime, enjoy this video and head on over to Fair Trade USA to learn more and count yourself in! Have a great week and hope to see you soon whether online, on Facebook or Twitter @TangoZuluKitsap or at the store in Port Gamble, WA.
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Hello and Welcome!

Lucy will work for biscuits and belly rubs!

Hello and welcome to the Tango Zulu Imports blog! If you have been here before now, welcome back! My name is Patricia Young and I am the newest employee at Tango Zulu Imports (TZI))…okay well besides Lucy who I hear is willing to work for biscuits and belly rubs! 😀

Since this is my first blog entry on behalf of TZI, I would like to share a little bit about myself and what led me to the Pacific Northwest and more specifically to seek out a job in fair trade.  I will also share with you a few of my favorite items in store to date. There are too many to cover in just one sitting!  Sigh!! 😀

So here’s the part where I talk about myself (you’ve been warned). I am originally from the East Coast where I grew up in the small town of Elizabethtown near Hershey, PA.  My love affair with all things international I guess started when I was small when my parents chose to adopt my brother, Kevin from Vietnam.  I remember we were the same age but he was so much smaller than me which made me have a lot of questions.  He also did not speak English when he came so as a family we taught him English.  In fact, I think there is an audio recording somewhere with my two older sisters teaching him to say “Patty is a dummy” which of course is an extremely practical thing to learn for beginners of English! 😀

The experience with my brother shaped me in many ways.  It opened my eyes to prejudices that I might not have known existed had I not shared a world view with a sibling of color. It taught me the power that a shift in geography can have and the integral role language plays in sharing needs and human emotion. As I got older, this led me to become a Rotary exchange student where I took a second senior year representing District 0739 while attending high school in Alcoy, Spain.  It also I believe played a role in determining my major in college which ended up being International Studies with a concentration in human rights and refugees along with a second degree in Spanish.

Over the course of the past 15-20 years, I have had the privilege of working both at home and abroad with many different cultural and ethnic communities.  For a short time, I was blessed to work with women and children in a rural part of Pakistan.  Several years later, I had the privilege of mentoring newly resettled refugees from all around the world in their efforts to rebuild positive, self-sufficient lives while living in the Phoenix area.

A year ago, the definition of what mattered most in life changed as my husband and I said goodbye to my father-in-law after a six month battle with lung cancer.  He made us promise to not wait to live the kind of life we always wanted so just a little over a year after his diagnosis, we made the move to the Pacific Northwest and specifically to Kitsap Peninsula to be closer to not only the water but a community that values the local farmer, small businesses, the environment as a whole and a socially just way of life.

In seeking out employment, I wanted to find something that would meet two goals for me.  The job had to speak to my life experience and desire to do something socially just but it also needed to serve as a way to help me become more connected to the community around me.  After all, we came here not knowing anyone and really desired to become a part of this great place over time.

When I found Tango Zulu Imports in Port Gamble, WA and discovered  not only was it a family owned business but  it sold fair trade as well as locally made artisan products with a view of Port Gamble Bay on Puget Sound, I was sold! I did not just want to work here…I had to work here! In fact, I wanted to learn and grow here. I love the baskets and my favorite right now definitely has to be the cream/multi spiral Zulu telephone wire basket from South Africa.  And the clothing, scarves and hats…where do I even begin? I think I am currently in love with the Mud Cloth Skirt in Black and White.

I am so grateful to Tracy for hiring me and excited for the chance to learn and grow in such a wonderful setting.  I look forward to getting to know all of you and sharing with you.  I also am looking forward to sharing with you all of the different products, people and places we are blessed to be a part of here at the store.

In the days to come, I hope to share with you some of the unique and fun events that always happen to be taking place in and around Port Gamble, WA.  As someone new to the state and the store, I am also enjoying my adventures of the area and meeting new people.  As a part of this journey, I will try to let you in on my discoveries as I uncover the many distinctive natural wonders and beautiful people who make up this part of the country.   Feel free to ask any questions you might have along the way whether about a particular product or anything at all that might strike your interest.  Thanks for stopping by and until next time.

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Ten uses for African baskets

Sometimes people discover our African baskets quite by accident either online or in the store; other times, we have customers who come in looking for a basket with a very specific shape or size – even color!  Over time we’ve heard some excellent ideas for how to use them either in the home or on the go, so we thought we’d share the list with you.

1) Farmer’s market tote.  The capacity and heft of our Large Market Basket is perfect for produce, flowers, or other purchases – hence the name!

2) Crafting.  If you like carrying your yarn and knitting needles, embroidery projects, or handwork along with you, the Basket with Upright Round Handles makes a terrific, roomy tote.

3) Newspaper and magazine storage.  In the living room or even the commode, having a handy Rectangle Basket nearby for all of your reading material makes for an organized and comfy home.

4) Toilet paper.  Speaking of the commode, if you want to keep spare rolls easily accessible but can’t find a pretty way to store them, our Small Oval Basket in Natural holds several rolls, keeps them off the floor, and matches any decor!

5) Firewood and kindling.  If you find yourself constantly sweeping up loose bark and chips from your hearth, keep it all under control with the beautiful and functional Moroccan Kindling Holder.

6) Easter/spring basket.  The “Little-Bo-Peep” shape of our Oval Tapered Basket, or even our sweet Flower Baskets, would be perfect with a little bit of greenery, some candy and a dyed egg or two!

7) Trash.  We know, it’s hard to imagine using one of these beautiful works of art as a garbage bin, but the Waste Basket is actually made for that very purpose, so why not let it serve its intended use?  It has handles for easy emptying, and it’s so handsome you won’t mind giving it a place of prominence next to your desk.

8) Kids’ belongings.  If the little one’s bedroom is a cluttered maze of blocks and stuffed animals, but you want everything to be within reach, keep toys, building sets and dolls in the Large Open Storage Basket.  You or your child will be able to see individual items and the nice wide top makes for easy grabbing, and it will all be in one place.

9) Laundry and linens.  The Extra Large Market Baskets are very versatile, and have many uses beyond market shopping!  They are big enough to store extra blankets and linens for guests, and light enough to use for carrying loads of laundry from room to room.

10) Serving bread. If you’re having a crowd over for dinner, upgrade your rolls or loaf of bread from a plate to a beautiful African Bread Basket.  Bread is no longer just an accompaniment or vehicle for yummy spreads – now it gets to be the center of attention!

We hope this list has given you some helpful ideas and suggestions.  Let us know in the comments what you use our baskets for!

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An elephant never forgets

We have recently received a shipment of carved stone sculptures from Zimbabwe, and among them are three very handsome Shona elephant sculptures.  They are highly detailed and very dynamic; the elephants appear to be heading somewhere important and raising their trunks to sound a trumpet call.

They make me think of a very poignant story I read not too long ago about a man who lived all his life out in the South African bush.  When a particularly restless herd of elephants began to wander outside the boundaries of a large game reserve called Thula Thula, they caused trouble for the owners and were on the brink of being shot as pests.  Lawrence Anthony managed to subdue the elephants and earn their trust, and he somehow convinced them to remain within Thula Thula where they were safe.

Having heard about Anthony’s skill with the intelligent but often intimidating animals, people began sending solitary elephants as well as groups to Thula Thula for Anthony to rehabilitate.  There are now two full herds living safely in the game reserve thanks to his skill and determination.

When Anthony died in March of this year, he had not seen the elephants in over a year and a half.  But according to his son, Dylan, the two herds arrived at his home within a day of each other, having traveled over 12 hours in solemn single-file lines through the bush to pay homage to him.  How could they possibly have known that he had died?  Moreover, how could they have communicated with each other to stage a simultaneous memorial?  They stood vigil for two days before returning to their territories within the reserve.

Although the Shona carvers are from a different part of Africa than the elephants Anthony worked so hard to protect, it is clear from the sculptors’ attention to detail that they recognize these animals’ extraordinary qualities.  Please share your favorite stories about elephants with us in the comments!

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New Products from Kyrgyzstan, South Africa, and Exotic Kitsap County, WA

We are ecstatic over our products from Kyrgyzstan, like this felt peacock ornament  We have assorted ornaments, scarves, toys and throws made from felted wool and silk, all handmade in a fair trade workshop in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan.

Also, our collection of African baskets continues to expand.  We now have Zulu telephone wire baskets, Swazi baskets, Botswana baskets, and more varieties of Bolga baskets.  All are beautiful, practical, handmade, and fair trade.

Last but not least, we have some incredible artisan chocolates made locally here in Kitsap County, WA.  We are especially in love with the salted caramels.  Stay tuned for some fair trade and organic chocolate from Congo.

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Tango Zulu Imports Celebrating Two Year Anniversary

It was exactly two years ago on this night, Tracy and I stayed up till early morning, finishing up final steps of preparation for our big day – the opening day for Tango Zulu Imports – on May 8th, 2010.  The walls had been painted, displays set, signs made, price tags applied.  All that remained was for us to carry the cash register to the shop the next morning, plug it in, and ring up our sales, except one minor detail.

 We did not how how to program or operate it.

Fast forward 24 months, Tango Zulu Imports is becoming a favorite stop for many visitors to Port Gamble, looking for a unique gift.  We are getting mentions in both local and national press, and with the support of our customers have operated successfully for two years while bringing truly unique, handmade artisan gifts and products from over thirty countries.

From the first pair of chopsticks we sold at the store, Tango Zulu Imports has grown tremendously.  We have now nearly 2000 followers on Facebook, and have become one of the most prominent online sites for African baskets, which has become a favorite for both our customers and ourselves.  Meanwhile, our other fair trade, handmade artisan goods selection grows daily.

Both Tracy and I started this business as newcomers in owning a business, retail or otherwise.  From the start, we know we picked a very challenging time to start a business, when the country is still struggling mightily to recover from the deepest recession over 70 years.  We wanted to make sure we do our best to ensure the artisans who make our products are paid a fair wage, so we focused on fair trade products; we wanted also to make sure our products are priced reasonably, that we will sell only at prices that we would have been willing to buy had we been a customer, so we focused on running the business as lean as we could.  We did not hire an accountant, a consultant, a tax adviser or any other help.  We did everything ourselves.  It made very long days, but hard work paid off.  We managed to grow the business without borrowing any money from the bank or injecting any additional equity.  We are now ready to hire a couple of part-time employees.

The past two years have been fantastic.  We have met so many thousands of people coming through our store front, many have wonderful stories of their own, some have become friends.  We have built up the largest inventory to date.  Whether someone is looking for a one of a kind birthday present, a unique gift for Mother’s Day, a gorgeous present for a wedding or buying Christmas presents for the entire family, Tango Zulu Imports will certainly have many choices that are fun, surprising and memorable.

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