Raised in Long Island, Ny., Melinda Haselton was fourth of five children. After attending a Waldorf school in the area, she went on to Drew University to study World Religions. It was here that she fostered a love for eastern religions. She spent a semester of junior year in Nepal and quickly fell for the cultural experience of travel. After graduating in 2003, Haselton moved to Colorado where she worked for a Waldorf school in Boulder until 2005 when she was drawn to India. This time she taught at a school in Dharamsala. “I wanted to experience both the Tibetan and Indian cultures,” Haselton explained of her travel choice. The school was founded by a Tibetan monk who wanted to aid the area’s impoverished Indian population. Here, Haselton empathized with the children she taught. “The children there were just thirsty for education,” Haselton recalled. Once back in the states, Haselton found a way to give from afar. She collected an assortment of indigenous crafts from Dharamsala and sold them in Colorado. She then donated the money made back to the school.
In Colorado Haselton began dating her current husband but later, in 2007, they moved to Burlington to be close to family. In 2008, the pair wed at the Old Lantern.
With Haselton’s blooming fair trade business, she looked to her friend, a Buddhist Geshe, for an appropriate name. Dolma is the Tibetan name for the female Buddha who symbolizes compassion. In his words, “She is like the wave that brings the drowning to shore.”
Recognizing a need for additional research, Haselton studied fair trade co-ops in India, traveling to different locales in India. It was like a “world tour” with purpose, Haselton explained. She wanted the best product and needed help. Consequently, Haselton visited women’s empowerment centers, impressing her need to do the “right thing at every point.” In 2007, she joined the Fair Trade Federation. Then in 2009, she aided in the creation of Burlington as the second Fair Trade town in Vermont, second only to Brattleboro. She also now works as the Publicity Coordinator at the Waldorf School in Shelburne. She and her husband moved to Shelburne in February of 2012. Her mission: “I want people to make choices about consumption, to think about where things come from. It’s the same with shopping locally or organically.” Haselton’s website, www.dolmafairtrade.com, accomplishes what she started when she first returned back to the states.
Hobbies: “I’m a good Vermonter. I love my dog, meditating, and hiking.”
Favorite book: ‘Demian’ by Hermann Hesse. I’m especially fond because my husband loved it separately.”
Favorite Shelburne haunt: “I love Village Wine and Coffee.”
Bucket List: “Having kids is at the top of my list. I’ve also been so fortunate to travel but I’d still love to see Africa and South America.”