Whether or not you’ve ever ventured to exotic places like Japan, Morocco, Mexico, Argentina, Thailand, Africa or Kenya, you don’t have to travel far to find hand-made treasures from countries like these, right here in Oak Cliff. Wendi Medling, owner of From the Ends of the Earth, imports goods such as chocolate, clothing, masks and bedding and offers them to CliffDwellers from her boutique at the corner of Tyler and Davis. Medling landed in Oak Cliff through her spouse’s job transfer after living in Austin, and thought this would be an ideal location for sharing the worldly possessions that she has always loved seeking. “You almost feel like you’re in Austin,” she says of Oak Cliff, “I wouldn’t live anywhere else in Dallas.”
Medling’s favorite way to find her goods is in person. Last year she made six trips abroad and this year she hopes to make as many. February was her two-year anniversary at From the Ends of the Earth, and Medling is proud to say that it continues to attract new and returning customers. Enjoying and targeting the artist community in Oak Cliff, she explains, “As Davis Street becomes more developed, this block will continue to gain more foot traffic.”
Medling includes her kids in the business, enlisting 18-year old son, Tyler, and 5-year old daughter, Maya, as part-time help running the store. “It’s good to let Maya see what I do. It’s empowering to little girls,” she states. “Maya loves to tag the merchandise, rearrange things and listen to the world music CDs.” Of balancing career and family, Medling says, “I love the flexibility of running my own business while being a mother. Of course it can be challenging to find the time to do it all.”
Medling’s maternal instincts go hand-in-hand with her decision to own a Fair Trade business, citing the desire to nurture her own family and the communities from which she purchases goods. Medling explains that Fair Trade Organizations differ from commercial importers in that their goal is to benefit the artisans they work with, not maximize profits. Many of the artisans themselves are mothers resolved to support their local communities. By reducing the number of middlemen and minimizing overhead costs, Fair Trade Organizations return up to 40 percent of the retail price of an item to the producer. According to the Fair Trade Federation, they work with co-operatives that use democratic principles to ensure safe and dignified working conditions, and that encourage producers to have a say in how their products are created and sold. Fair Trade policies also help producers to reinvest their profits back into their communities, with success stories including time and money dedicated to building health clinics and supporting other community projects in local villages. Medling explains, “Europe is very active in Fair Trading, but only .01% of America is Fair Trade. It is just now starting to catch on here.”
Upon your first visit, you will be struck by Medling’s passion for authentic, original goods. From the garden ornaments to the Japanese t-shirts, from the ornate calligraphy sets to the eco-friendly paper, the products are unique and cannot be found easily in a commercial retail establishment. Medling carries pieces from local artists as well. “Some people wonder why I have items from local artists,” she says. “Well, their creations are part of this earth also,” she explains. One such artist, Kurt Kistler, even created Medling’s globally-inspired logo.
From the Ends of the Earth has such a rare variety of gifts, it could easily fill your Mother’s Day shopping needs. Some of our favorite items are the Maasai-beaded sandals from Kenya, the layered semi-precious stone necklaces from India, the Mai Pai San Handbag from Thailand, the large selection of world music, and the “Crimson” Japanese lamp. Store hours are plentiful, with doors open from Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Visit them online at www.fromtheendsoftheearth.com.
Think globally, shop locally.