Friday, July 1, 2011

Micro-Business Continued: Native Grace

Donna Bollinger with her working kids Amir (16, left) and Sahar Babi (15)

(This is part of the July cover story on Micro-Business in Valley Business FRONT.)

Owner: Donna G. Bollinger

Age: 48

Location: Roanoke

Type of Business: Fair Trade Retail

Founded: 2008

Financing: Personal credit ($30,000 on Chase credit card with a 2.9 percent interest for the life of the loan)

Total employees: 1 (her children Amir and Sahar Babi help; interns)

The Story:

Donna Bollinger parlayed her 20 years of working internationally into a business. “My vision was to create a space in the community for people to learn about cultures and artisans around the world, while supporting these fair trade initiatives,” she says. She opened in late 2008 and within a year had to double her space.

She envisions “a non-profit that promotes study tours to visit cooperatives around the world as well as extensive education about fair trade issues and specialty art workshops” and she hopes to make “strides in educating the area about fair trade practices and how we can make a difference in eliminating child labor and unsafe practices.”

Donna works with 40 fair trade groups, many of them small, and “trying to organize, identify and price items and provide information about the groups is a time-consuming task. The work … has a huge impact on lives and communities around the world while also bringing unique items to those who are purchasing.”

(Dan Smith photo.)


  1. It's a wonderful and beautiful store and Donna is just as wonderful and beautiful. :)

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