It’s a dreary, humid day on Hampden’s 36th Street, but the cheerful storefront of Milagro, which is adorned in mosaic detail and electric green paint, beckons passersby. “Milagro” means miracle in Spanish. In Latin American folk art, Milagros are metal prayer charms made to be carried as a way to ask the saints for a miracle. In Baltimore, Milagro, the globally inspired boutique, serves as a way to connect cultures, sharing the rich color and craftsmanship of global artisans.
After years spent traveling to Mexico and practicing various crafts, including textile and jewelry making, Kimry Perrone (pictured) had a desire to open a boutique selling folk art and jewelry from around the world. In 2004, she opened the doors to Milagro. Supporting fair trade was always an imperative. “I was already interested in the concept of fair trade, having dealt directly with artisans,” she says, “and I wanted to be able to be a part of supporting makers in a fair environment.”
Lately, fair trade and ethical shopping have become buzzwords. This demand led to an organic expansion for Milagro to include sustainably made clothing. “One of the benefits of fair trade products is that they’re handmade,” Perrone says. “There’s a quality there that you’re not going to find in fast fashion.” Buying less and buying smart is what ethical fashion is all about. It’s the belief that handmade clothing made of natural fibers will feel better, wear better, and last longer in your closet.
But one thing ethical fashion rarely is? Trendy. Perrone admits that it can be a challenge to bring in pieces that satisfy customers’ cravings for the latest styles and are also sustainable. However, the growth of fair trade gives her hope for the future. “As young fashion designers are coming up in this awareness of ethical fashion, there are more of these companies at trade shows now,” she says. “They’re working with women co-ops there to have their designs made, and those styles are current.”
In the meantime, she does have one way of choosing merchandise. “Some of it is just what I want to wear,” Perrone says, smiling.