I go back and forth between talking about fair trade AS SOON as much customers walk in to … hey chill, let them fall in love with the products first. But, I do think that some of our followers on here might be in the same boat.
You all might love our clothes and products and know it’s “ethically made” but still not know what the heck ‘fair trade means’.
Let me break it down for ya’ll. (I recently started saying ya’ll all the time and I’m still not sure why, but I’m also not stopping)
All of the products we have at The Golden Rule boutique are members of the Fair Trade Federation or World Fair Trade Organization, except for two or our product lines right now. Girlfriend Collective is an athletic clothing line that we shop with and they have leggings made from recycled water bottles. These leggings have another certification that we thought aligned well with fair trade and voice that to our customers when they are in the store. All the ladies that come into the store LOVE these leggings and often compare them to LuLu Lemon but ethical.
Pashn has beautifully made jewelry that we have currently from Nepal and India, and we have their ponchos and scarves during the winter that are all cashmere. I know the owner, Survi, very well and she works directly with the artisans. She plans on getting her membership.
But seriously what does fair trade mean?? It means that all these other companies that we shop with are members and are utilizing the 10 principles of fair trade.
1. Opportunities for disadvantaged producers: say what? This means that the company is working with artisans that could typically be out of work because of a disability. Or for being a woman.
2. Transparency and Accountability- All the companies we work with are VERY transparent, you can ask them any question about any step in the process of a product being made and they are happy to tell you! I love that about fair trade. You don’t have to question, well wait that seems fishy. You can reach out to the company and they can explain if you ever have a question. And all their websites are showing up front that they are working with artisans and the process. Some even have direct artisan stories, which is my fave.
3. Fair trade practices- the biggest thing that stands out on this principal for me is that the company or cooperative is focusing on caring for the employees and not focusing on making a giant profit. Really this means they are thinking *people over profit* every step of the way. There are also considerations for long term relationships, instead of leaving to find who can make products cheaper.
4. Fair payment: This includes a fair LIVEABLE wage. A lot goes into figuring that out, so it is often different in each country or even cooperative within different regions in a country. If you want to learn more about this specific topic you should listen to our podcast episode with Angela Melfi on The Fairlosophy Podcast ((just search Fairlosophy on wherever you listen to podcasts)). Angela really breaks down what a “fair working wage” means and gives a clear explanation.
5. Ensuring no child labor or no forced labor- a lot of fashion brands force overtime without proper pay based on meeting demands of the companies they are working with. The International Labor Organization (ILO) that 170 million are engaged in child labor and often are making garments to satisfy the demands of consumers here in the Western World.
6. Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association-This is huge and SO AMAZING, but I don’t think it needs that much of an explanation.
7. Ensuring good working conditions :)- a safe and healthy environment is provided. Often day care is provided for children which is can be a lifesaver.
8. Providing Capacity Building- seeks to increase positive developmental impacts for small, marginalized producers through Fair Trade. This is the hardest principal to explain for me, but became easier after our trip to Bali. We got to learn that the cooperative provides microloans for their artisans to help them keep their land. I think it is different in each cooperative but this principle is building community and also teaching them skills so that they don’t necessarily HAVE to stay at the cooperative forever. This is SO different than what these artisans are used to. At other jobs, they are forced to stay and work forever because they don’t have another option.
9. Promoting Fair Trade! 10. Respect for the Environment: A lot of the products we shop for are using recycled items such as cement bags or tires. But some of the companies are using dead stock of fabrics from other factories that could have ended up in a landfill.
I hope that this long post was helpful, do you still have questions? I would love to help more!
Come into the store at Westfield Mission Valley Mall in San Diego to learn more about our individual products!