“It’s the idea that business does not have to exploit people,” she said. “I believe business can be an agent for change and a vehicle for social good.”
The idea for Eclipse Trading Post took root when Blasingame set out to start a business that would help women everywhere.
“I asked myself, ‘what do women who really need money, and need it right now, do,’” she said. “Women have always been good at making things, so I decided if I could start a business where we sold the things that women made, that would be one way of helping them.”
She began researching fair trade, an instrument for improvement that was already in place out in the world to help exploited and impoverished people.
Eclipse Trading Post initially opened at the NewBo City Market in November 2013, and this past May, Blasingame moved her curated fair trade business into its own building in downtown Marion, offering unique gifts and green home goods from all corners of the earth.
At the shop, customers will find gifts, jewelry, pottery, wood items and textiles from countries such as India and Egypt, Brazil, Ethiopia and Tunisia. A line of natural food items and toiletry products made in the United States by women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction also are for sale.
“I have bracelets that come from Laos,” Blasingame said. “They’re made from bombs that were dropped during the Vietnam War. The company clears the land for farming and uses these pieces for the jewelry.”
One section in the shop, called the Village Table Collection, features artisan gourmet products from Iowa and elsewhere in the United States.
Blasingame said she is very picky about the products she offers. She stocks handmade items from individual artisans as well as companies that donate to organizations that work for human rights and fight against trafficking and exploitation.
“I have a lot of generous customers who want to give gifts that are unique, and who do care about supporting fair trade,” Blasingame said. “They want a gift that means something and when they buy something that has a story behind it, they love that.”
Blasingame said she knows what it’s like when women lack an income.
“My mother had four children under the age of 7 when our father abandoned us,” she said. “It was the ’50s and what does a woman do with a high school education and some secretarial skills when she has four children to raise?”
Her mother ended up opening the Country Cafe on the east edge of Marion, a business that turned a profit within its first three months.
“That seeded everything that I’ve done since,” Blasingame said.
AT A GLANCE
Owner: Beverly Blasingame
Company: Eclipse Trading Post
Address: 777 11th St., Marion
Phone: (319) 400-6854
l Know a company in business for more than a year that would make an ideal My Biz? Contact Francie Williamson at firstname.lastname@example.org