Footscrubber, a terra-cotta tool from Pakistan distributed by Gilden Tree in Nebraska, is changing the lives of women and children twelve thousand miles away.
This unusual terra-cotta pumice stone is handmade by women artisans in Pakistan, giving them unprecedented economic independence and some pretty unusual benefits. As a newlywed in Pakistan, Ann Thariani discovered the foot scrubber, loved how it worked, and when she and husband Kumy returned to the U.S. in 1990, founded Gilden Tree to distribute it.
"Through a friend, we began working with two families of Pakistani women to make a consistent, sophisticated version of a traditional tool," explained Ann. "These women were from families of laborers, so they had no experience preparing products for export, or even working as a team. It was pretty challenging in the beginning." All persevered and soon the Footscrubber was a success.
Since 1993, Gilden Tree has paid for the education of the women's children, both boys and girls, and later, for the women themselves. Gilden Tree pays for tuition, books, uniforms and fees, even shoes and socks.
The foot scrubber, hand-formed, sun-dried and fired in a kiln, is one of the best-selling items for Gilden Tree.
"Every time we fill an order, I think about the changes we're helping bring about," Kumy said. "I think everyone at Gilden Tree realizes it's something pretty special."
Gilden Tree has expanded its line to include products for foot, hand and body care, both for personal and professional spa use. True to its corporate philosophy, the products contain natural, traditional, healing ingredients from cultures around the world including wild-crafted Shea Butter, Certified Organic Aloe Vera, Jojoba Oil and Comfrey Extract, helping protect consumers and the environment.