Simple, Beautiful, and Affordable: Everyday Wares from the Salvation Army Enterprise Others
Ever heard of the Salvation Army’s online shop Others? We hadn’t either. But the global social enterprise—offering quietly beautiful, artisan-made household objects—is now celebrating its 25th year. “Creating work for those with limited opportunities” is the group’s M.O.
“Our key goal is to create jobs and, in that way, contribute to empowerment and poverty alleviation,” explains Others’ general manager, Bo Christoffer Brekke. That includes “self-help groups focusing on women’s opportunities in Kenya; a production center in Bangladesh with our own sewing, handloom, and woodwork sections; and also partnerships with Salvation Army projects working with sex trafficking victims.”
In addition to applauding the ideas behind Others—including fair working conditions and wages, and the use of natural, sustainable materials—we admire the actual work being produced. A Scandinavian simplicity and notable sense of restraint runs through the home collection, which, we discovered, is no coincidence: All are created under the guidance of Oslo, Norway-based design director, Ellen Skaar, who says that minimalism appeals to the Salvation Army’s far-ranging markets.
“We usually start with the producer when designing: which production groups do we know need more work, what are their skillsets, and what are the available tools and materials?” Ellen tells us. “Some of our artisans come from a tradition of handicraft and are very experienced; some have just been trained to make a specific product. Our largest group are women who need to work from home. Small products requiring little equipment are perfect for this.”
Here are 10 of our favorite items from the Others USA online shop. Prices, you’ll notice, are very reasonable, and revenue gets funneled to the makers and to the nonprofit’s future projects.
The name Others comes from a telegram Salvation Army founder General William Booth sent to remind his officers of the reason for their work: it contained the single word “Others.”