One of the questions that I often get asked is what does "fair trade" mean?
I own and operate a fair trade and artisan marketplace focused on selling ethically made products and handmade goods.
Fair trade business principles are based on mutual benefits for the company and the producers. One of the main things that people think of when they think of a fair trade business or one that prescribes to these practices is the idea of paying a fair wage. While that is a component of fair trade that is not the only guiding principle.
Enforcement of health and safety laws are also of paramount importance. In addition the fact that products are produced in a sustainable way that seeks to conserve local natural resources is also an important aspect.
One of the things that I appreciate as a seller of fair trade goods is that payment is made in advance of raw materials being bought unlike most large brands where payment is typically held for 60 or 90 days after delivery of goods.
Here is a very interesting and informative article on the cost that the Covid-19 crises has had on garment workers overseas.
One of the simplest ways to see if something you are buying is considered "fair trade" is to look for the Fair Trade Federation logo or the World Fair Trade Organization, but just because an organization or company isn't part of a fair trade organization does mean they aren't producing in an ethical manner.
One of the things I try to do as a business owner is to research and look into the brands that I carry to make this process easier for my customers.
Here is a quick list according to FTF of their guiding principles:
1. Create Opportunities
2. Develop Transparent and Accountable Relationships
3. Build Capacity
4. Promote Fair Trade
5. Pay Promptly & Fairly
6. Promote Safe & Empowering Work Conditions
7. Ensure the Rights of Children
8. Cultivate Environmental Stewardship
9. Respect Cultural Identity
When I look for new brands to bring into my store I ask myself 3 guiding questions.
Is this brand doing something redeeming in the world? Are they in the business of restoration of our world in some way? Is this purchase encouraging another small business or maker in the world?
While all of the brands I carry are not fair trade products (because I am also an artisan market) they all say "yes" to these questions. Small, local women entrepreneurs are being encouraged and uplifted, companies with a social mission are being championed and beautiful, artisan gifts are being shared.