About Us

Serrv artisan partners

Authentic Connections

This is what we believe here at Serrv. We believe disadvantaged artisans and farmers around the world should have the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and support their families through fair payments and respectful relationships. Every basket, every tablecloth, every necklace we offer has a story behind it–of an empowered artisan or farmer who works in a safe environment, can send his or her children to school, and can save for the future with the reliable income he or she earns through fair trade.

We create direct, long-term relationships with small organizations and cooperatives in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and here in the United States, connecting you to the handmade products and foods their members make. We emphasize the word "partnership" in our work because that's really what these relationships are–we've created a system of creative collaboration based on mutual respect and trust, creating high-quality and well-designed items using sustainable materials and production techniques. Some of these partnerships have lasted for over 35 years!

The values of fair trade are central in everything we do. We collaborate with our partners in creating and maintaining programs for artisans and farmers focused on women's empowerment, educational support and skill trainings, sustainable community resource development, and more. Prepayments are always offered for orders, reasonable production timelines are agreed upon, and we provide grants so artisans can expand their businesses. And of course, we pay a fair wage.

In our 65th year of operation, we are dedicated to offering you, our customers, unique handcrafted products and superior service, along with the knowledge that you are helping to build a more sustainable world for us all.

Mission Statement

Serrv is a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide.

Serrv history

Our History
Serrv is recognized as a leader and pioneer in the fair trade movement, with origins in 1949 as one of the first fair trade organizations in the United States. As a founding member of both the World Fair Trade Organization and the Fair Trade Federation, Serrv has touched countless lives with opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.

Serrv began with a small group of Church of the Brethren relief workers helping refugees rebuild after World War II. The first product sold was a cuckoo clock from Germany! SERRV originally stood for "Sales Exchange for Refugee Rehabilitation and Vocation", but since our mission and work has expanded greatly since then, we now use Serrv as a word on its own. In 1999, Serrv incorporated as an independent nonprofit organization.

Over the decades we have steadily increased our impact through the number of partners we work with and the depth of our development work. From what began as a small catalog of a few items and one gift shop located in New Windsor, Maryland, we have grown to offer a large range of products through seasonal catalogs, three Serrv stores, and hundreds of stores and churches throughout the country.

Our Core Values
Our organizational values guide how we work and interact with partners, customers, staff, and volunteers. These include prioritizing improved quality of life for low-income artisans and farmers, collaboration, transparency and trust. See all of our Core Values here.

New Serrv Logo

Introducing our New Brand Identity!
As we uphold Serrv's ongoing mission to eradicate poverty, we continuously challenge ourselves to improve the way we market products on behalf of our artisan and farmer partners. As part of our strategy, we've taken the step of rebranding the look and feel of our communications. New Serrv MarkWe are excited to introduce our new brand identity this spring season!

The most important element of the new Serrv logo is what we call the "connections" mark. The eight links represent the core values of Serrv's global community. Our core values are what we stand for as a fair trade organization dedicated to lifting disadvantaged artisans and farmers out of poverty.

The mark also represents the close connections Serrv creates through these values. Together, our community (which includes our artisan and farmer partners, customers, donors, volunteers, fair trade allies, and staff) is creating endless stories of impact.

The new mark showcases what Serrv has created over the last 65 years and more clearly demonstrates how we are all working together to achieve our mission. We look forward to growing these connections even further in 2015 and beyond!

Read more about our new identity in our Spring 2015 newsletter.