Veda Dante, one half of on-line ethical business Little Gypsies, with traditional Indian doll.
Veda Dante, one half of on-line ethical business Little Gypsies, with traditional Indian doll.

Home to world-wide business

From the outside, the house at Brunswick Heads has the lovely air of a typical seaside dwelling of another era.

Painted fibro walls and well-worn wooden steps leading up to the front door.

But where once a family of fishing folk may have gathered to prepare the day’s catch, now media professional Veda Dante sits at her computer to co-run an on-line business that reaches out into the world to support countless numbers of people whose livelihoods depend upon a traditional way of life.

 Little Gypsies is the on-line business started two years ago by Veda’s friend Casey Arnaud, a businesswoman who had been searching for something that would give more meaning to her life than the body products range she had formerly created.

Casey took her small daughter travelling to celebrate the sale of the business, and, impressed by how enriched her little girl’s life had become after spending time with underprivileged children in Asia, began to think about ways of sharing those riches with children in Australia.

Little Gypsies sells clothes, toys and games for children, as well as gifts for mums, and everything it sells has to satisfy at least one of the ‘core values’ that Casey and Veda have established as essential.

They look for goods that are produced in places where workers are fairly treated, for pieces made in traditional ways where the impact on the environment is minimal, and for toys and games that will stimulate a child’s imagination and have educational value.

“There are dolls with different skin colours,” said Veda, “as well as a puzzle that teaches children how to say hello in different languages, Children of the World lacing cards and Life on Earth dominoes.

“We look for the old-school toys, those that last, and that promote fine motor skills.

“And we look for clothes that preserve a child’s youth and innocence.”

Little Gypsies stocks nearly 300 different products from almost 30 different countries all over the world, and predominantly from developing countries.

“When you buy something from Little Gypsies, it’s the gift that keeps on giving,” explained Veda, “because you are supporting a traditional industry in the source country.”

And not only does Little Gypsies sell ethical, sustainable products that help cottage industries in the developing world, it also helps disadvantaged children in Cambodia.

Since its inception Little Gypsies has donated three per cent of every sale to The Green Gecko Project, a charity founded five years ago by Byron Bay’s Hug-a-Bub co-director Tania Palmer.

“Casey wanted to find a youth-orientated charity in a region she’d fallen in love with,” said Veda.

“What started as a table feeding street kids has now grown into an extraordinary charity supporting 67 families, where kids can eat a hot lunch, attend English classes, get a hug, have a shower and receive medical attention.”

Little Gypsies is at www.littlegypsies.com and the Green Gecko at www.greengeckoproject.org

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