If you’ve spent any time in the gift industry, it’s certain that you’ve seen the term “Fair Trade” on clothing, bags, candles, and even coffee. But what does Fair Trade mean? More importantly, what does it mean if a product or brand is Fair Trade?
Don’t worry, Gifts of Nature is here to help with all your Fair Trade questions! With over 25 years of experience in the Fair Trade gift industry, we’ve learned a few things about the importance of Fair Trade and what it can do for you and your business.
Keep reading and discover the wonderful world of Fair Trade with Gifts of Nature!
What is Fair Trade?
First, let’s go straight to the source and see how the World Fair Trade Organization defines fair trade – Fair Trade is a “trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency, and respect” (link). More simply put, that a Fair Trade brand has a real relationship with the people who make their items.
More than just promoting fair wages, Fair Trade fosters long-lasting relationships of mutual advantage and respect. As the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) puts it Fair Trade brands “don’t just buy and sell a few fair trade products; they integrate fair trade practices into everything they do… [they] have a deep level of commitment to fair trade practices and maintain long term relationships with small producer organizations” (link).
Fair Trade pushes against the concept of faceless workers making faceless items for faceless companies and put makers and brands on the same level. Fair Trade companies have committed themselves to care about the people who make their products and have taken the steps to ensure long-lasting support to those individuals that they could not operate without.
As a part of this commitment, Fair Trade organizations work hard to help offer working opportunities to women, fight against child labor and unsafe working conditions, offer skills training, and to overcome economic uncertainty (Source).
Take for example Malia Designs!
Malia Designs was started in 2005 when the brand began working with groups in Southeast Asia and is founded on the mission to “provide a sustainable source of income to our artisan partners”. Additionally, Malia Designs is dedicated to helping in the fight against human trafficking and has donated more than $160,000 to related organizations. This care for others is apparent in every handbag, purse, tote bag, and other fashionable accessories by Malia Designs.
Merging multiple ethical considerations into one, the Malia Design wallets above (SKU #SL003) are expertly handmade by Cambodian artisans and are crafted with durable canvas and all-vegan leather alternatives. Additionally, from Malia Designs comes totes and coin purses like the ones featured below that are made of recycled newspaper and feed bags, as well as are built by artisan groups that specialize in hiring deaf and disabled individuals. (SKU #’s HD031, SL009-CAT, VW026-DEL SL009-MTN, and HD007-PK)
But First – A Quick History of Fair Trade:
Founded on principles that have deep roots in European societies, a clear idea of Fair Trade was put forth by Edna Ruth Byler in 1946. After a trip to Puerto Rico with a church group, Byler began selling exquisite handmade lace and returned the money directly to the Puerto Rican women who made them.
Eventually, in the wild world of the 1970s and 1980s, Byler’s concept spread and lead to the creation of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), which was founded to “improve the livelihoods of disadvantaged people through trade and to provide a forum for the exchange of information and ideas” (Source).
After the establishment of the WFTO, other Fair Trade organizations began springing up – including the Fair Trade Federation (FTF), Fairtrade International, and Fair Trade Certified – all of which are dedicated to creating guidelines and resources to help brands and makers, alike. Today, these organizations are the ones who deem if a company’s product is “Fair Trade-y” enough to qualify for Fair Trade Certification (sort of in the same way that foodstuffs are marked “Certified Organic”).
What does fair trade mean to your customers?
In this day and age, it has become more apparent that a growing number of customers are searching for products that they can feel good about purchasing.
According to a 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report, “66% of consumers say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable brands” (Source). Additionally, in 2018 it was also reported by Nielsen that “four in 10 global respondents said that they’re very willing to pay a premium… for socially responsible products” (Emphasis Added. Source).
Statistics aside, you’re probably already familiar with this idea already. If you’re anything like me, its no problem to spend a couple extra dollars to ensure that your coffee or T-Shirts are environmentally friendly. This same concept applies to your customers. It has become abundantly clear that they’re more than willing to go out of their way, and even pay extra, to ensure that the things they buy are made safely and respectfully.
This is doubly the case when it comes to millennials, where “86% of millennials [are] looking for responsibly sourced products” (Source) – a statistic that can easily be extended to include Gen Z and their increasingly socially consciousness attitudes towards life.
“Mindfully made with eco-friendly materials and heartfelt art,” the apparel and accessories of Soul Flower are a Fair Trade brand that emits the sort of positivity that customers are searching for. In addition to being made with recycled materials and low impact dyes, many of Soul Flower’s most popular apparel and accessories pieces are totally Fair Trade Certified.
Soul Flower pieces like the Henna Elephant Bandana (SFO302), Peacock Feather Organic Leggings (SFO276), and By the Sun/By the Moon Draped Cardigan (SFO252) are simple ways for wearers look fashionable while supporting a good cause. Along with the items shown above, Soul Flower’s Fair Trade collection also includes a selection of tote bags and pouches that are every bit as functional as they are fun. (SKU #’s SFB019, SFB013, SFB022)
How to Get Fair Trade to your Customers:
Luckily for you, this rising trend of Fair Trade and socially conscious buying is a simple enough thing to capture in your store.
Many Fair Trade products available from Gifts of Nature are available clearly labeled as “Fair Trade” or include a “Story Card” explaining the “life” of the item. This kind of Fair Trade-forward design makes it easy to create clearly marked Fair Trade displays, as well as to craft obviously-marked sections to your web store.
Also, many Fair Trade organizations (such as the Fair Trade Federation – Link) offer digital resources to help explain the benefits of Fair Trade gifts to your staff and customers.
All of this comes together to create a situation where your customers should feel excited and confident in their Fair Trade gift purchases.
One brand that brilliantly encapsulates this kind of story-centric Fair Trade is dZi Handmade. A founding member of the Fair Trade Federation, dZi Handmade is dedicated to working to enhance the lives of the Himalayan artisans who create their one-of-a-kind pieces.
More than just the wonderful dreamcatchers, singing bowls, birdhouses, and jewelry featured above (SKU #’s 40127017, 525014000, 484069000, 484054000, 312954000), dZi Handmade also produces a large selection of Fair Trade holiday ornaments and decorations, all made of high-quality felt and all totally (as their name might suggest) handmade. (SKU #’s 473069000, 473070000, 473105040, 471275000,41304000, 471272000)
Find Even More Fair Trade Gifts with Gifts of Nature!
These are just some of the amazing Fair Trade gifts available today from Gifts of Nature. In addition to Malia, Soul Flower, and dZi Handmade, we proudly carry Fair Trade apparel, accessories, New Age gifts, fragrance & incense, and more from brands such as Pichincha, Aloha Bay Candles, Blue Sky, Eangee Lighting, SoulKu Jewelry, Kathmandu Imports, and others!
Please contact your GON sales rep to learn more about the Fair Trade gifts available now from Gifts of Nature. Also, be sure to check out our Fair Trade vendors on the brand-new Gifts of Nature B2B website experience. On the GON B2B website, you will be able to browse items, explore catalogs, place orders, and much, much more!