It seems like Fair Trade is so prevalent in our society today- you can get Fair Trade coffee, Fair Trade clothing, visit purely Fair Trade shops, but what exactly is Fair Trade? And just how important is it?
When starting Tribe of Lambs we knew we wanted all things ethical and compassionate. We wanted our products to be conscious and considerate of everyone involved and impacted by our products. We knew Fair Trade was something “good” that we wanted to research more but we weren’t 100% sure that it was a definite criteria of ours. We looked at many great websites to find out exactly WHAT IS FAIR TRADE?!
Yes, producers being paid a fair wage was very important to us, but what else is involved?
The definition we found at www.fairtrade.net was this:
“’Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair Trade organizations (backed by consumers) are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade. Fair Trade’s strategic intent is:
•deliberately to work with marginalized producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency
•to empower producers and workers as stakeholders in their own organizations
•to actively to play a wider role in the global arena to achieve greater equity in international trade.’
Further reading into the Fair Trade Charter, a few important points for us were that; 1) children were to be respected and advocated for, 2) women were to be paid equally and have equal decision making power, and 3) that there was to be further empowerment, education and training for the producers.
We have attached the link below if you want to check out the Charter for yourself!
So is Tribe of Lambs Fair Trade? While we LOVE Fair Trade and all this is stands for, we are not entirely Fair Trade at the moment. Our Custom Jewelry is Fair Trade, made in a Fair Trade Cooperative in Rajasthan- Craft Resource Centre (http://www.craftresourcecenter.com) was wonderful to work with and teach us this year. And we also have some pieces made at a small family business that is not certified Fair Trade. While we value what Fair Trade stands for and advocates, we also realize that it is a very hard certification to obtain (especially financially). It is not always feasible for a small operation to pay the annual dues and adhere to every single stipulation- although it is a great goal to shoot for!
We have been brainstorming and thinking about this…We aim to be fully transparent in all that we do. It is one thing for us to visit the factory, meet the producers, spend time making sure it is a compassionate, socially responsible and equal work place. Then we go and tell our consumers and tribe members, we understand that some may be hesitant and not trust the ‘work of mouth’ certification. Going forward, we definitely see our role in future with helping these small businesses achieve Fair Trade certification and potentially reach more markets because of it!
We are here, not only to make a difference in the lives of children, but also empower the small business owners and artisan in developing countries AND engage the western consumers in conversations of Fair Trade, Conscious Shopping and ethical purchases! xoxox