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Why a Commitment to Fair Trade is Good for Business


We hear everyone mention Fair Trade; our vendors, our buyers, our customers. But what does is actually mean and how can it be beneficial for a major retailer to support an effort to buy Fair Trade products?

First, it’s not a basic few sentences that will define Fair Trade. In a most simplistic explanation, Fair Trade is dedicated to helping artisans from around the globe, many in developing countries, who are socially and economically marginalized. By purchasing handmade goods from these artisans, at fair market prices, Fair Trade creates an opportunity to build a better life for these individuals and their families.

There are nine principles of the Fair Trade Federation. If you are interested in exploring further, the best place to start is fairtradefederation.org.

I have put together a small fraction of unique, handmade and undeniably fabulous items that can be found on a number of Fair Trade certified websites. All of these products can be purchased at wholesale. Normally the retail buyer simply needs to register to login for the wholesale price.

Much of this merchandise seems to have a very low cost. This provides the opportunity for the buyer to pass the savings along to the customer and simply keystone the cost, or make some extra mark-up and triple the cost.  When I bought some of this merchandise, as a gift buyer, a few years ago, I did both. Even when I tripled the cost of some Fair Trade items, I still had customers raving at how inexpensive they thought the prices were and how unique the selection! In fact, when I put out the colorful, fun, felted wool hats from Nepal I practically had a stampede; they sold out in two days!

Here are a few incredible items that will bring more than just a multi-cultural vibe to your store mix:

1. Ten Turn Bracelet. Metal, glass and bone. Super trendy multi-wrap bracelet available in all the colors of the rainbow!

Country: India.

Website: globalcraftsb2b.com.

2. Selena Clutch Bag. 100% buriti palm fiber. Hand woven and hand crafted in a contemporary silhouette.

Country: Brazil

Website: dsenyo.com.

3. Tagua Nut Bracelets. Chiseled and boldly dyed bracelets. Tagua is considered the vegetable ivory. The sustainable nuts are similar in texture to ivory.

Country: Ecuador

Website: mingaimports.com.

4. Hand Painted Candles. Set of three, boxed. Who wouldn’t love to open up this gift box and find these gorgeous hand painted decorative candles?

Country: South Africa

Website: giftswithhumanity.com.

5. Fox Doll. There’s adorable and there’s endearing. This handcrafted, hand stitched stuffed animal is both. 100% cotton. Lots of different animals to pick from. One is cuter than the next. Made by the Women’s Cooperative in Malawi.

Country: Africa

Website: dsenyo.com.

6. Zulu Wire Basket. Flared top wire vase. Intricate bold decorative accessory is a fusion of ancient Zulu basket weaving and modern art. 8 ½ inches tall. Many extraordinary designs to choose from.

Country: Africa

Website: basketsfromafrica.com.

7. Musette Hand Carved Wood Handbag.  Hand carved out of sustainable Acacia wood by women artisans, this purse looks and feels impressive.  10” x 4” x 2.75.” Like carrying a piece of modern art.

Country: Philippines

Website: fairtradedesign.com.

8. Recycled Wrapper Passport Bag. What do you do when you’re done with your bag of chips? Cut the bag into strips, weave the strips into fabric and create fantastic passport bags and purses? No, I don’t either, but thank goodness someone does!

Country: Nepal

Website: earthdivas.com.

9. Ikat Women’s Jacket. Helping people to help themselves seems to go with everything; like this stylish jacket. 100% cotton. Hand printed textiles crafted to form this perfect wardrobe essential.

Country: India

Website: serrv.org.

10. Recycled Flour Sack Polo. Did your Mom ever say to you, “It looks like you’re wearing a flour sack!?” Well, the next time she does, graciously answer, “Thank you, I’m glad you noticed.” This super trendy polo is cut from reclaimed flour sacks, hand dyed and hand stitched. Attention grabbing, fashion forward and a Fair Trade product to boot.

Country: Ghana

Website: uniquebatikfairtrade.com.

So is Fair Trade good business? How can helping people be anything but essential for our one world village? Fair Trade is a true win-win for everyone.


Fashion Trend Analyst contributor: Diane Weisbeck.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers, fashionista, fashion, fashion trends, fashion stylist,
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