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Businesses of Banyule’ presents Issara, Ivanhoe East 

What are you most passionate about? What sets your soul on fire? For Lisa Hill, her number one priority is making a positive difference in disadvantaged communities across the globe.

Three months ago, Lisa opened a retail shop called Issara on Lower Heidelberg Road in Ivanhoe East. What sets this store apart from so many others, is that every single item she sells is fair trade.

“All our products are handmade and we know who made them,” proudly explained Lisa. “Fair trade is all about respect and transparency.”

“We don’t buy anything from big factories. We only purchase product from small producers.”

Issara sells a whole variety of items from handmade soft toys to Alpaca throws to hand-blown recycled glass from Egypt.

“We have quite a diverse range of products.”

“A lot of our range is solely exclusive to our store. We have beautiful vegan bags and wallets.”

“I designed our earrings and commissioned one of our fair-trade partners overseas to make them.”

Though only open for a few of months, Issara has already established a strong following.

“I guess people love what we do because we are a social enterprise with a mission to empower people around the world.”

“Every week a number of amazing people volunteer their time to help manage the shop. Without them we would not be able to positively impact as many communities. With the help of more volunteers we could assist more small producers with trade opportunities. We’re always on the hunt for more volunteers.”

Lisa is an entrepreneurial philanthropist who has always enjoyed participating in community outreach programs.

“When I was living in Perth I volunteered for a variety of charities including St. Vinnies. I also worked for many years in community development and public health,” explained Lisa.

“We’re so fortunate in Australia. We don’t always appreciate what we have. Once you travel outside the touristy areas in many developing nations, only then do you see what life is really like for so many.”

Issara is right in the middle of its start-up phase. Though some days come with its challenges, Lisa wouldn’t change it for a thing.

“It’s taken us two years to get to this point. It’s been quite a journey. Whenever I’m faced with a challenge, I just remind myself of our mission. It helps me realise how important it is to continue.”

“I really wanted to spread our story and I knew I could do this by having my own shop. I want to give people a choice to buy ethically. In the current retail landscape, there’s very little to no choice. It’s so wrong.”

Looking for that perfect Christmas present? Look no further.

“We’re getting in at least 1000 new items in time for Christmas, including a stunning range of ethical fashion. We’re very excited as we’re partnering with new producers in South Africa, Chile, Bolivia and Indonesia.”

“We will also be offering Christmas gift wrapping and gift cards too.”

You can find Issara on 279 Lower Heidelberg Rd, Ivanhoe East. You can also visit the Issara website.