10 Ways FTF Members Are Promoting Fair Trade

Posted: Wed. May 06, 2020

“Fair trade encourages an understanding by all participants of their role in world trade. Members actively raise awareness about fair trade and the possibility of greater justice in the global economic system. They encourage customers and producers to ask questions about conventional and alternative supply chains and to make informed choices. Members demonstrate that trade can be a positive force for improving living standards, health, education, the distribution of power, and the environment in the communities with which they work.”- Fair Trade Federation Principle 4

Learn how ten FTF members are uniquely realizing this principle below!

Tribe Alive exists to empower women around the world and to provide safe and meaningful employment at fair wages. They strive to move the fashion industry toward a more humane approach where the Earth and Maker are valued equally to the customer. They work with talented artisans around the world and meet with them regularly to ensure that they are seen, valued, and safe. They invest in their development, provide necessary resources, and collaborate on ways to invest in a circular economy — they are true partners.

Tribe Alive encourages customers to ask questions and believe in complete transparency as they release quarterly impact reports and most recently, their Five Year Impact Plan. Along with the care for their artisans partners, they honor the Earth in each part of their supply chain. The pieces in their collections are Earth-loving and designed to last — they work with organic, non-toxic, and up-cycled materials. Their goal is for customers to wear and love their pieces for years to come!

One of the most rewarding roles for a fair trade organization is acting as the link between artisans and customers, building the bridge, and promoting fair trade to artisans and customers alike. At Dandarah, they aim to empower artisans and sustain traditional crafts by offering handmade products from Egypt, where the national poverty rate is around 30% and the illiteracy rate is about 26%.

Being originally from Egypt, Dandarah’s founders speak the language of their artisan partners and have a deep understanding of their cultural heritage and traditions. These common roots, compounded with the fact that Dandarah deals directly with their partners, with no intermediaries, have allowed Dandarah to promote fair trade principles to the artisans by translating them into Arabic and fostering transparency in all steps of their supply chain.

In their efforts to promote fair trade to customers and tell artisans’ stories, Dandarah maintains a strong social media presence on LinkedIn and YouTube in addition to the more common platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Additionally, Dandarah is a member of the Artisan Alliance and the Canadian Fair Trade Network, participates in shows with similar goals, and partners with Verge, a magazine that promotes travel with purpose.

Freedom’s Promise sells and promotes fair trade products made in their sewing center in Cambodia, including their newest line, Samros Bridal. The women employed at the sewing center are paid a fair wage for their beautiful artisanal work and receive training, a loving support system, and dignified employment. This type of work environment not only impacts the women they employ directly, but the larger community as well.

In marketing their products in the US, Freedom’s Promise’s fair trade approach is always central to their message, encouraging consumers to use their participation in the marketplace as one that affects positive change for people around the world. 

When Mata Traders was started over 10 years ago, fair trade apparel was relatively new. Since then, options have grown rapidly, and they are proud to promote that growth by partnering with fair trade shops and neighborhood boutiques who may be just learning about ethical fashion.

They strive to promote fair trade not only through conversations, but also through their marketing efforts: fair trade messaging and artisan stories appear in blog posts, email campaigns, printed collateral, and social media. (Be on the lookout for #makersofmata that highlights their powerful stories!) They hope their customers see their artisan partners, the women, as the face of us all. Collaboration with their producer groups is the foundation of their relationship.

Regarding product development, their designers worked with the cooperatives to source additional eco-friendly materials like Tencel and modal. Their partners have also been responding to the COVID-19 crisis by doing what they do best – getting involved and getting to work. They’ve been sending updates and communicating their amazing efforts to customers. Mata Traders is proud to be a way for customers to start or continue their journey as part of the economic change that is fair trade.

The fair trade community is a very provincial one; everyone within it is aware of and promotes fair trade. The challenge is getting the understanding and concept of fair trade outside the community to those not aware and encouraging them to embrace it. Baskets and Beads Kenya has had success in doing so by speaking at events or exhibiting where many people are not familiar with fair trade.

They also interact with many people outside the community on social media. It gives Baskets and Beads Kenya the opportunity to inspire them to consider who makes the products they are buying. For example, on their Facebook profile, their post about the Washington Post’s “Cocoa’s Child Labors” article was shared over 200 times!  If each person does their part to promote fair trade, they can enable more people to know and practice fair trade in their buying and everyday lives.

Sustainable Threads helps facilitate partnerships with artisans who in their geographic, social, and physical circumstances have difficulty accessing markets and brings the people behind their products to center-stage. These relationships built on trust involve fair wages, long term association, safe working conditions, and environmental responsibility, just to name a few.

It is this focus on the artisans, their skills, and their socio-economic and cultural contexts that forms the substantial part of Sustainable Thread’s communication with their customers, in addition to the vision that fashions their collection. A review of their website, marketing material, and eavesdropping on a conversation at a trade show will reveal their commitment! 

On the home front, times are tough and resources limited. However, on an ongoing basis and especially now, Dunitz & Company makes sure to promote fair trade and their FTF colleagues regularly. They compose blog posts highlighting fair trade retail websites, and their colleagues have even received orders due to these efforts.

Dunitz & Company is glad to help, if even just a bit! On the blog, they have also interviewed FTF members, going beyond the products, to promote their practices and stories. Recent posts have included an interview with Rikki Quintana of FTF member HoonArts and a Mother’s Day Gift List featuring over 20 FTF member products! Visit their blog here.

Many indigenous Guatemalans sell textiles and traditional clothing at a fraction of their value to pay for schooling for their children, medicine, or food. Middlemen/women travel to villages going door to door pressuring women to sell their huipiles, traditional garments, for only $3 or $4, and they resell it to businesses who cut them up to make purses, shoes, and backpacks. Consumers are often not informed about the length of time it takes to weave these textiles–sometimes days–and how to know when the marketing term “recycled” is being used appropriately.

From day one, the members of the Mayamam Weavers cooperative learn how their pay is calculated. Each member keeps a record of the time worked and the products they create/weave, and as they become more efficient, their pay increases. The members learn how to do a time-study to calculate their rate of pay. With the time-study, they are able to make adjustments to their pricing. It isn’t just a matter of demanding to be paid fairly; it is important for artisan partners in Guatemala and across the globe to have a full understanding of all of the principles of fair trade.

The main goal of Koru Street is to educate about the principles of fair trade, why they are necessary, and the people that are behind their products.

When Koru Street participates in events, they make sure photographs and stories of the artisans who make the products are prominently displayed. When their most popular product, the “klikety klik” box by All Women Recycling, arrives from South Africa, it includes a small card with the name of the woman who created it. However, they have personally met the women, discussed their lives and in some cases met their children. Having spent time with them, it is important to Koru Street to replace the cards with another that shows their name, photo, and short biography.

Customers love knowing where the money is actually going, and the artisans are proud to know that they are bordering on famous in the US!

Fair trade is in WorldFinds‘DNA, and they promote it in everything they do – WorldFinds LIVES fair trade! By wearing fair trade brands, the WorldFinds team gets the opportunity to promote it every time someone compliments them on the clothing, jewelry, or bag with a “Thanks! It’s fair trade!”

They highlight fair trade in their brand statement, on all social media and their website, and in their marketing and artisan storytelling pieces. They share the stories of the makers and the goodness behind the fair trade principles and practices with all who come in contact with them and their brand.

To learn more about how fair trade enterprises create opportunities for producers, explore the 250+ FTF member enterprises.

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