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Danish-born Hedvig Alexander worked for the UN in Afghanistan for seven years before moving to Toronto to found Far + Wide Collective, an online marketplace that allows craftspeople in developing countries to sell their goods around the world. In November, she launched a Kickstarter campaign called The Pin Project, selling kite-shaped pins made by people in refugee camps. We caught up with her after a trip to Jordan to expand the initiative with Syrian refugees.

Hedvig Alexander


What type of packer are you?
A terrible one. Efficient packing requires knowing what you’ll be doing ahead of time and most of my trips are unpredictable.

Why did you choose to create kite-shaped pins for this campaign?
Canadian jewellery designer Jenny Bird said bracelets and necklaces have been done, and pins are in. She came up with this very relevant kite design, a sign for prosperity and hope in many central and South Asian countries.

Where did the idea for your online marketplace come from?
When I was working in Afghanistan, I saw how badly trade relations had been damaged. I wanted to help craftspeople connect to the global market equitably.

Do you have a favourite country for crafts?
Places like Uzbekistan create pieces that mix colour and geometric minimalism from Islam. It matches my Danish design sensibility.

Do you have any tips on shopping for artisan goods?
Go to hidden spots instead of markets. I just bought a green embroidered jacket in Amman. I asked my guide where I could find treasures and she took me to a shop run by a woman who gets pieces from all over the Middle East and tailors them herself.

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LEADERS OF THE PACK    

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