Posts filed under ‘fair trade’
Had my first visit to Earls Court in years today. What used to be called the Earl’s Court Show is now referred to as International Jewellery London (IJL). It was great to see some Vipa customers, old and new, exhibiting and it was exciting to see so many break out sessions devoted to ethical jewellery in general and fair trade / fair mined in particular. One session that I made it to had a great video about gold mining in Peru from one of the leading advocates of fair trade / fair mined, Stephen Webster.
The last couple of months have been pretty difficult for Global Fayre (meaning for David and Cheri).
We had realized towards the end of last year that we were struggling to cope with the store itself and all of the other activities that Global Fayre required of us, PLUS raising our two daughters PLUS Cheri being a Doula PLUS David doing his own stuff (what is that exactly?!)
We brought someone in to help at the store (Sophie was a great help and a real asset to the team) but by the time we got to the Spring of 2011 the message had firmly sunk in. We didn’t have the resources (financial, physical and emotional) to make the store work as well as it should or as well as we wanted it to.
So in May we took the decision to close the store itself, but to leave the door open to continue with fair trade talks, outside events at local churches and the online store.
Announcing the closure, and dealing with the customer/friend reaction was truly bitter/sweet. People had some very kind words to say, and we really felt appreciated, but then to feel the process take its own momentum; after all, stores open and close all the time, and we are just one of many. An inventory sale seamlessly turned in to a closing sale, with some very loyal customers getting the “one thing” that they had been wanting for a very long time but could never afford or justify. That was very satisfying to see.
We weren’t prepared for how emotionally draining the last two weeks would be; we lost count of the number of times we had “that” conversation about why we were closing, how we would be missed etc etc. Of course, person #200 means it just as much as the person #1 – so you try hard to have the conversation, yet again.
So the store is closed, and we were preparing for life after downtown Global Fayre…..and then David had a very interesting telephone conversation……..
Over the past few years, an ever growing number of products have gained Fair Trade certification in the US (Fair Trade Certification is usually given via TransFair USA).
As a retail store with limited space (we have around 1,000 sq feet of retail space) we’re always faced with the dilemma of whether or not we can take new product lines as they become available on a Fair Trade basis; not only because they are great products, but also because we know what a difference they will make to the communities that they come from.
Sometimes though, the products shout SO LOUD that we just have to make room for them. Which is a long way round to saying that we have just ordered our first delivery of Fair Trade Roses – just in time for Valentines Day. Fair Trade flowers have been available in the US for a couple of years now, but so far do not seem to have made the inroads that everyone had hoped for. Why not? A few reasons spring to mind; too far removed from the other lines that Fair Trade retailers carry, not enough margin for conventional florists to carry them……
So we figured that we should at least try. We’re just ordered a bunch (pun intended) from One World Flowers – due to arrive on Feb 10th.
Here’s what One World has to say about Fair Trade flowers and themselves:
One World Flowers and Fair Trade
One World Flowers believes in supporting sustainable business practices, human rights compliance, and fair compensation for workers in countries all over the world. We started our company to do just that by offering beautiful Fair Trade Certified™ flowers in the United States. Suppliers of agricultural products are often pressured by American and European companies to lower costs in order to keep prices low for consumers. Many people don’t realize that because of this, hundreds of thousands of workers in South America, Asia, and Africa are exposed to physical, mental, and sexual abuse each day at work. In the floral industry, most of these workers are women who are not paid fairly for the long hours they are sometimes forced to work. In addition, workers are not given protective gear to wear when dealing with the dozens of harmful chemicals that are used to grow flowers. As a result, many of their children are stillborn or have major birth defects. Fair Trade is changing all of this!
Fair Trade Certification means farms that grow flowers are given a fair price for their produce, workers enjoy safe working conditions, fair living wages are paid to workers, and environmentally friendly growing practices are used. It is a commitment made by each company in the supply chain to maintain higher standards in our business practices, even if it costs a little more. In short, everyone can benefit from Fair Trade from the worker in the field, to the company that owns the farm, the environment, and even you!
One World Flowers is a TransFair USA licensed importer and distributor of Fair Trade Certified™ flowers. We currently sell our beautiful wholesale flowers to customers throughout the United States including individuals, grocers, florists, and co-op markets. We are expanding quickly, and are always looking for people and busineses to partner with who share our passion for Fair Trade and corporate social responsibility. If we are not yet in your area, we’d love for you to request One World Fair Trade flowers from your local florist.
We strive to be the market leader in Fair Trade Certified™ flowers by educating consumers about Fair Trade practices, and how to be aware of the human rights violations that happen every day in the global supply chain. One World Flowers doesn’t just want to sell flowers; we want to make a world of difference.
It’s heart warming to see the contribution being made by so many people to the relief effort for Haiti.
A concern, of course, is what happens after the media attention switches to another story, when the relief agencies have another crisis to rush….when people just forget and move on.
That’s why Fair Trade is so critical. Fair Trade is not about short-term fixes and fire-fighting (important though those things are); Fair Trade IS about empowering communities to make a difference in the long term, to break their cycle of poverty.
At Global Fayre we don’t have many products from Haiti, but what we do have is simply stunning, especially the oil drum wall art. The cut metal ironwork from Croix des Bouquets, a small village outside of Port-au-Prince is one of Haiti’s most original art forms. In the early 1930s Georges Liautaud formed imaginative cemetery crosses from recycled metal cut from oil drums. An artistic tradition has grown from those humble beginnings and now the village has become a center for this art, with more than 60 workshops.
Cut metal artisans cut open 55-gallon drums, hammer them flat, and then mark designs on the black metal with chalk. Using a hammer and chisel, they pound and cut through the metal to make designs. Some are left black, others are painted with bright colors.
We source our oil drum wall art from the Haitian Committee of Artisans (CAH). Since 1972, the nonprofit CAH has marketed and exported crafts made by Haitian artisans, cooperatives and craft groups. The craftspeople whose work CAH promotes have organized themselves in a variety of ways. Some are cooperative associations, some are family workshops and some are independent artisans; all depend on the efforts of CAH to market their handicrafts for a fair wage. In 1999 CAH became part of the “Fondation pour le Developpement de l’Artisanat Haitien.” CAH provides marketing and promotional expertise, other sections provide training for artisans and reference resources on handicrafts.
Here’s just a few examples:
These pieces are available in our store at 324 S Campbell, Springfield, MO and online at http://www.globalfayre.com.
You’ll find the Haiti pieces here.
20% of the proceeds from these beautiful works of art is being contributed to relief agencies working in Haiti.
One of the unexpected delights of working in the world of Fair Trade has been the opportunity to work on customized products with our producer groups. Unexpected, because as a retailer we source our products primarily through importer/wholesalers who have the direct relationship with the producers.
However, in several cases now we’ve been able to work through the importer to request custom products (we talked about this before when we launched the vegan market baskets from Ghana).
Our latest adventure in product design has been in the world of finger puppets, working with our friends at Inca Kids.
Since we are based in Springfield, natural habitat of the Red Cardinal (and home of the Springfield Cardinals!) it seemed obvious to have some Red Cardinals made…..this is how they turned out:
The next major event coming to downtown Springfield is the 30th Annual Saint Patricks Day Parade, so now we’re scratching our heads thinking about what finger puppets we should have made……ideas anyone?!
Being rabid readers of our newsletter (what? you don’t get our newsletter?! – then sign up here!) you will already know that we often give talks to community groups* about Fair Trade. (* community groups means anyone from pre-schoolers to Red Hat Ladies, churches, schools, volunteer groups).
Well this month we’re launching the first ‘open house’; an Introduction to Fair Trade for anyone who cares to come and listen (not just listen – we get plenty of interaction with these talks).
So – here’s the details:
Where: Global Fayre, 324 S Campbell Ave, Springfield MO 65806
When: August 18th, starting at 7pm (they usually last for around an hour)
Who: Anyone that wants to come!
What: Introduction to Fair Trade – starting at the basics of how Fair Trade started, and what it is all about
Why: Because it matters!
If you want more information, our contact details are:
When we started Global , we knew that would be an important element of our work here, but frankly underestimated just how rewarding that aspect of the store would be.
We give at least onetalk mosts weeks; these talks are to a wide variety of groups in the community, from pre-schoolers to ladies. Sometimes it involves us packing some interesting pieces and visiting them, but most times they come to the store and get a “Fair Trade Talk and Tour” as we wander around the store using some of the beautiful items we have here to highlight the various aspects of Fair Trade.
One of the biggest kicks we get is when people return after a tour, bringing others with them, so pass on the message. It’s especially great to see kids bringing their parents in to explain what Fair Trade is all about.
One local school we’ve worked closely with the is the Phelps Center for Gifted Education. They are part of the system in , and have something called the WINGS Program. WINGS (Working with the Individual Needs of Gifted Students) is designed to identify academically gifted students. The purpose of the program is to provide challenge and rigor as well as address the social/emotional needs of the gifted student. We’ve given a few talks now to students on the WINGS program, but this week two of the students turned the tables and brought in books that they had created to help explain Fair Trade. They had done a great job of conveying what Fair Trade is all about in an interesting and engaging way, and wanted to donate the books to the store so that we can use them with other students in the future.
The books are proudly on display behind the counter, and we’re looking forward to using them!
Here’s a couple of shots taken during their visit to present their work: