A passion for fair trade
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
- Dalai Lama XIV
Over the last few years, through my work in eco fashion, I have learned that the fair trade certification process can be lengthy and costly. Some artisan groups, cooperatives and other organizations just do not have the funds to go through the steps at this point but they have made immense efforts to change the way things are run within their group. In other words, they abide by the principles of fair trade without having the official certification. I have interviewed some of the leaders of these groups, visited their workshops and even checked back in from time to time and have found that they are indeed legitimately running a fair trade operation, even without the certification.
With that being said, I know the opposite exists. I know there are some governments (I won’t name any names) who hand out fair trade certifications like they are pieces of bubble gum, in an effort to allot these businesses a competitive edge – an opportunity to hike prices and enter an industry that is still comparably new and fresh. Let’s set aside the fact that they are scamming consumers and focus on the fact that they are all-the-while running their business unethically with workers working arduous schedules in terrible conditions for next to nothing.
To deal with this in my search for groups to work with and because some people are just not familiar with the term “fair trade”, I have come up with various ways to explain fair trade and a list of questions about the way their businesses are run. I have even gone so far as to change meeting times at the last minute to show up when not expected. They may think I’m nuts for going into this topic at such length but it’s really important to me so if they want the business they will understand and deal with it.
I want to offer products that are beautiful and comfortable. I want them to be treasured and represent a level of quality that speaks for itself. BUT, I also want to be able to pass styles from Pashen Collection on to customers knowing that someones creative spirit went into each piece alongside my spirit and no person or living thing was harmed in the process. My journey continues…