Warm light pours out of big windows, gleaming off worldly wonders, inviting you to travel the world in the space of one store. Hands of the World has an impressive 35-year history in Pike Place Market, matched only by the countries represented in the store—Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mali, Kenya, Thailand, India—just to name a few.
As a young woman, Cynthia Hope took off to see the world. Her travels led her through Southeast Asia, including Thailand, where she met a missionary working with local tribal people. Inspired, Cynthia settled in Northern Thailand to work at a refugee camp on the border of Laos. The next two years would be an experience “like living in a National Geographic magazine,” and ultimately one that would change the trajectory of her life forever.
Cynthia returned to the states with a huge collection of handmade folk art from her time abroad. After selling pieces at street fairs for several months, she eventually made her way to Pike Place Market to open Hands of the World, which over the years would become one of Seattle’s most beloved independent shops.
Keeping the shelves full of beautiful jewelry, art, toys and accessories is no easy feat. Without revealing all her secrets, Cynthia notes that while it has become harder to source items for the store, she is able to source directly from people with whom she has built decades-long relationships, thanks to the longevity of her business.
By sourcing from various communities, Hands of the World helps to provide a fair wage and educational resources through a system that is now known as Fair Trade, putting the needs of the producer first. Since 1982, Cynthia has enabled the Market and the Seattle community as a whole to support craftspeople all around the world.
Visit Hands of the World on Market Level 4, open seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm.