Posts tagged ‘fair trade’

All change!

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole 3 years since I blogged on Global Fayre.

This summer was one of major change; Cheri and I have changed jobs, and we’ve moved the family down to London!

My new role is as Head of Business Incubation at Cockpit Arts which describes itself thus: “At Cockpit Arts we support extraordinary craftspeople making work in the UK. We are an award winning social enterprise providing the UK’s only creative-business incubator for designer-makers.”. Split over two buildings, we house around 165 makers of all disciplines, helping them to develop their business at the same time as providing them with a stimulating communal space for a reasonable rent.

Cockpit Arts also offer online resources for makers whether they are in our space or not.

The move also brings me far closer to the heart of the UK jewellery industry, and has already given me much more opportunity to invest time into moving the ethical jewellery agenda further. For any ethical jewellers reading this, please feel free to reach out to me for more information, or join our group in LinkedIn (fairtrade fairmined jewellery designers). There are some really exciting developments going on in the ethical jewellery space just now; more of that to follow in future posts.

October 4, 2014 at 11:54 Leave a comment

Should You Feel Guilty for Your iPhone? (via Autonomie Project’s Blog)

Thought provoking blog from the Autonomie Project……where will you get your next phone from?

Should You Feel Guilty for Your iPhone? Rumors swirling the debut of the iPhone 5 have been circulating for the past several months and as a current iPhone user, I am tempted, like most others, to get my hands on one.  Smartphones, particularly the iPhone have become an aspect of everyday life for many in America.  But at what cost? In recent reports and some articles published by AP and the likes, reveal that there are many costs that come with the iPhone.  The problem starts with min … Read More

via Autonomie Project's Blog

September 18, 2011 at 11:11 Leave a comment

Fair Trade in Melton Mowbray

Although Melton is a pretty small market town, it does boast its very own Fair Trade store.

The Fairtrading Post is located right in the center of things, adjacent to the market place. It is run on a very different basis to the store we had in Missouri – managed and staffed entirely by volunteers. It seems to be doing well – having just moved to a new premises giving 4 times the floor space.

We haven’t volunteered any time yet, but will do so once things have settled down a little more.

Elsewhere in the town, fair trade products are readily available in the grocery stores – much more so than we were used to in Springfield.

Melton calls itself a fair trade town – more information on that here – but in truth that makes fair trade seem more mainstream here than it actually is. Still – we can hope….

September 14, 2011 at 22:00 1 comment

Fair Trade Fair Mined Gold

We (meaning Vipa Designs) had a great meeting yesterday with Victoria from the Fair Trade Foundation and Daniel from the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM).

A bit of background: the Fair Trade Foundation is the UK arm of FLO-CERT. Here’s how FLO-CERT describes itself; “FLO-CERT GmbH is an independent International Certification company offering Fairtrade Certification services to clients in more than 70 countries. We assist in the socio-economic Development of producers in the Global South and help to foster long-term relationships and good practice with traders of Certified Fairtrade products. Our Certification provides a guarantee to consumers of Certified Fairtrade products that they are contributing to the Social-Economic Development of people through their purchases.

What does that all mean? Well essentially, FLO-CERT and its country-based partners like the Fair Trade Foundation in the UK and Fair Trade USA (formerly TransFair USA) are responsible for all the certified fair trade products that we see on the shelves with logos like these….

So typically, when there is a groundswell to certify a new commodity or product, an application for certification will be made to FLO-CERT or one of its partners. They will certify that fair trade standards are being met at the producer group itself and in how the product is brought to market.

The jewellery market (gold and diamonds in particular) have been under the scrutiny of socially responsible organizations and conscious consumers for some time now. Efforts have been made at times to clean up the act of a pretty much unregulated industry; blood-free diamonds is one example. Real progress was made this year when the Fair Trade Foundation and the Alliance for Responsible Mining announced a joint initiative – Fair Trade Fair Mined Gold. Unlike other certifications, FLO-CERT had felt the need to incorporate a partner with industry-specific experience – hence the involvement of ARM.

Here’s a little about ARM: “The Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) is an independent, global-scale, pioneering initiative established in 2004 to enhance equity and wellbeing in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) communities through improved social, environmental and labour practices, good governance and the implementation of ecosystem restoration practices. ARM is committed to social justice and environmental responsibility as the values driving the transformation of ASM.” In practice, ARM works very closely with the mining communities to organize themselves, to improve their working practices and to use their mining revenues to improve their collective well being.

It was great today to hear how these groups have worked together (and continue to do so) to enable artisan mining communities to transform their standard of life. As we have found in other areas of fair trade, the struggle is huge, and the learning curve that these communities go through is enormous. What is so uplifting is how they tackle that challenge, usually beyond expectations.

We learned a lot about capabilities, levels of production, and the different scales of operation in (mainly) Peru and Bolivia. We ended the session having crystallized a number of concrete opportunities for all sides to explore and that real sense of satisfaction and achievement that goes hand-in-hand with involvement in fair trade at any level.

We’ll blog later about the mines and the miners, and about our specific projects.

September 11, 2011 at 15:57 Leave a comment

International Jewellery London and 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.

 

September 5, 2011 at 17:45 1 comment

the start of our new chapter

Before getting back to David’s telephone conversation, a couple of  background information “nuggets” might be useful.

Nugget #1

David’s first “proper” job after first graduating from college was with his brother Peter. Peter had earlier launched a jewellery design and manufacturing company called Vipa Designs. Like many other manufacturing businesses, jewellery has changed dramatically in the UK over the past 20 or 30 years. Most of the small to medium manufacturing companies have disappeared, and the bulk of mass manufacturing is now shipped overseas. During that time Vipa has bucked the trend and grown steadily, gaining a reputation for innovative design and high quality manufacturing whether for one-off pieces or for larger quantities.

Nugget #2

Before opening Global Fayre, we had no idea of just how complex the topic of fair trade is. Three years later, our understanding of the whole issue is deeper, but our awareness of some of the complexities is deeper too. Just what “fair trade” actually means differs widely from product to product. When something like coffee is certified as fair trade, we all know that this means that the growers have been paid a fair trade price; it doesn’t tell us anything about the importer or the roaster. Conversely, when you purchase a typical piece of fair trade jewellery, you know that the producer group that made the piece has been treated fairly, but you probably don’t know anything about how the raw materials were produced.

Nugget #3

A really exciting announcement was made in the UK this year on Valentines Day; the Fairtrade Foundation and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) had come together to certify the world’s first fair trade and fair mined gold. Around 15% of the world’s gold production is sourced from small scale miners, numbering around 15 million. Conditions in these small scale mines are often hazardous both to the people working there and the local environment. (more about this in a later blog). The UK initiative focuses on the three core areas of the gold supply chain: a cluster of small-scale mines, a handful of gold traders, and around 20 designer jewelers (again – more of this in a later blog).

So – nuggets over, back to that phone call.

David and Peter have often used each other as sounding boards, personally and professionally. David was doing exactly that with Peter after the closure of Global Fayre when Peter said “come and help me make this fair trade gold thing work” (or something to that effect). Vipa Designs is one of the 8 companies currently licensed to trade in fair trade gold. Quite where this will lead is not clear, but it’s exciting to find a new challenge and to be able to contribute in some way to the growth of fair trade and ethical business.

So – we’re off to England! David, Cheri and the girls are very very excited. We’ll be living near our family there in the middle of the country.

For now at least, this means that Global Fayre is on hold in terms of having an online store and doing educational work. Our hope is that once we get settled in England (we move in August) we can pick the reins back up; however that works out, we’ll keep posting here and on our facebook page. We remain just as passionate about fair trade as ever, and get a real sense that more and more people are joining us in wanting to become conscious consumers.

 

July 1, 2011 at 17:04 7 comments

The end of a chapter

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……..

 

June 10, 2011 at 19:51 5 comments

“Cloud 9” Fair Trade silver and Murano glass pendants

We don’t carry many glass products, partly because one of our closest downtown neighbors is a glass blower  (if you ever visit Springfield, aside from coming to Global Fayre, you should make sure to check out Terry and Gabe’s work at Springfield Hot Glass.

But when we saw these beautiful pendants, we just couldn’t resist.

Sterling silver and murano glass pendantThe maker is a woman from Coapango, Guerrero in southern Mexico, Guadalupe Ramos Rios. Our source, Tom Costello tells us that “As far back as the stories go, and as far back as Ms. Ramos Rios can remember, her parent’s parent’s parent’s were artisans who made dresses, shoes, chairs, flatware, jewelry, and other items for everyday use and for personal dress. I have worked with three generations of her family. Every pendant has six components. When the chain or necklace are counted, that makes seven. We christened them “Cloud 9″ because of there light, floating colors and designs.”

For the moment, we are selling them only in our store at 324 S Campbell, Springfield, MO – but in a few weeks we will add them to our online store.

They have arrived just in time for Valentines Day – and to celebrate, we are giving away a Fair Trade Rose with every purchase from Feb 10 to Feb 14.

February 9, 2011 at 00:59 Leave a comment

Shona Sculptures from Zimbabwe

We just delivery of our first piece of Shona Sculpture from our friends at Venture Imports.

Serpentine is the stone most commonly used by the Shona Carvers;  Shona ranges in hardness from 2.0 to 5.5 on “Mohs Scale of Hardness.” It has a huge range of color variations, but most pieces will have some brown, green or black in them.

Our first piece is this beautiful “Kissing Couple” in natural stone.

 

Jennie from Venture Imports describes the carving process this way:

“The artists chip, chisel, sand and then wet-sand each piece. (Before sandpaper, artists would use river sand and a rag in their hands to smooth out the pieces.) Then they place the piece around, or in some cases actually in, a fire. They finish by putting floor polish on the heated piece which sinks into the piece and brings out the natural colors of the stone and makes it shiny. They keep reapplying the floor wax (they use Cobra wax, I use Johnson paste wax) until the surface cools. Then they buff it with a cloth which makes it nice and shiny.”

Jennie also explains how the carvers learn their craft:

“Most of the artists have no formal training, but they often learn as apprentices under a master sculptor. They begin by washing and polishing the master’s pieces and then start working on small pieces of their own. Some of the artists work in cooperatives which is a fun site to see. They are so quick and sing and talk while they chip away.”

More pieces will arrive soon, and will be added to our online store.

February 5, 2011 at 13:18 Leave a comment

Fair Trade Roses – just in time for Valentines Day!

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.


January 25, 2011 at 01:34 3 comments

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