Fair Trade, ethically made products have interesting journeys from the sketch pad to the customer. Let's delve into the intricacies of the journey of our Fair Trade handwoven scarves.
the sketch pad……...
Fundamental to new handwoven scarves is drafting the design while bearing in mind the primitive tools that will be used in weaving but also considering the global market. Size of scarf and weaving pattern must be thought out before patterns are drawn because of the limitations of the backstrap loom. Then patterns are drawn of the scarf along with detailed instructions for the new design. Samples of yarn color are attached to the instructions to make sure just the right shades are used.
discussion with the artisan producers…….
A meeting then takes place with the artisans to go over the instructions, designs and costs. Through discussions with the artisans on the hours involved for weaving, the cost of yarns, etc., the price they will be paid for the work on these scarves is decided upon. The artisans typically set the price for their work during this meeting.
If the weaving design is unique or involves a totally new technique we ask the artisans to weave a sample so that any needed adjustments can be made to the design before the order is placed.
After all corrections and adjustments are finished an order is written up and given to artisans for the scarves along with advance payment for materials. Advance payment is a must for the artisans and they are given as much as they need to be able to purchase the needed yarn and materials. Yarn is purchased locally after they have calculated the amount needed for the entire order.
the work begins………
The artisan group purchases the yarn and the work begins on the order. First the yarn is readied by winding it onto the warping board in the exact pattern needed for our scarf design. The warped yarns are then carefully transferred to the backstrap loom and the weaving begins. Because a backstrap loom is portable the women can roll it up and lay it aside when they have work to do in the home. Most artisans do not need to leave home but are able to work at their looms in their home while caring for their families. This is very important for the ladies!
labeling and packaging……….
When the scarves are finished they checked for quality, labeled and packaged for shipment. Products that are imported into the United States have stringent labeling requirements that must be followed.
The artisan group receives payment for their work when the order is finished and ready to ship. This is very important to the groups because they depend on their income for basic necessities. At times a group will need money in advance of this for emergency expenses and will be given interest free advances on their income.
The scarves are now ready to be taken to the shipping company to be shipped to the States. A customs broker is hired in the United States to handle the complicated paperwork of importing.
final steps of the journey…………
After arrival at our offices in the U.S. they are checked once again. They are folded, hang tags attached and are now ready for orders through the website or at Fair Trade sales around the country. Each new design, color or product is also made ready to be professionally photographed.
As you can see Fair Trade scarves have quite a journey before reaching you! Learn more about the work involved during the weaving process.
The fair income that the artisans receive for their work in weaving scarves is life changing for them and their families.
Have you ever considered how ethical consumerism such as shopping for Fair Trade products can benefit the least of these? As Matthew 25:40 tells us ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ So how can ethical Fair Trade products help us benefit the poor as Jesus asks of us?
In this Bible verse, Jesus is talking about those with a variety of needs such as being hungry, thirsty, in prison, or impoverished or being sick. When we talk about helping the needy it is easy to see why Fair Trade can help.
First, there are no sweatshops in Fair Trade businesses. Artisans are paid a fair wage for their work so that they are able to help care for their families with medical care when they are sick and provide food when their families are hungry. Fair wages helps them to step out of poverty. Each time you purchase an ethically sourced Fair Trade product you are helping a mother or father take care of their family. You are helping those in need.
Have you ever been one of the least of these that Jesus is talking about? Have you ever been in distress, in need or sick? Has anyone come alongside you to give you a hand, a hug, or an encouraging word. Sometimes that is what is needed - to show others that you care. Through long term relationships, Fair Trade organizations and businesses show the artisans, the producers or growers that they care. They show they care with the extra benefits that are given to artisans and their families such as micro-credit loans, grants to help them with their handcrafts businesses, schooling for new skills to increase their income and so much more.
Fair Trade organizations help the artisans, the producers and growers through relationships that are built on mutual trust and respect. When working with artisans in the long term, organizations help them develop skills in their handcraft businesses, give technical assistance as well as financial help. Giving a helping hand in the many aspects of the artisans lives and businesses is a priority!
Isaiah 25:4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall.
You can be a stronghold for the poor through Fair Trade whether you are buying products yourself or encouraging others to help the poor with their Fair Trade purchases.
We all can benefit the least of these through our shopping habits.
Do you need to raise funds for your school, church or group and want products that are ethically made and free from child labor; something your group can sell with a clear conscience and know that you are helping families in a developing country to a better future.
These tips will help you raise funds ethically.
Choose your fundraising package wisely. Choosing Fair Trade products to use for your fundraiser gives back in many ways: the workers receive a fair wage, there is no child labor involved in the production, many products are environmentally friendly and produced in an eco friendly manner. Be sure to verify that the company is a member of a Fair Trade certifying organization so that you can be assured that the products are Fair Trade.
Before selling, take the time to educate your entire group of sellers about the impact they are making by selling these products. If you are using a Fair Trade fundraiser explain that the products are ethically made so when sales are made they will be giving a fair income to impoverished artisans. A triple impact with Fair Trade sales:
Educate your customers. In the same way you teach your group of sellers about an ethical fundraiser you should educate your customers - the people to whom you are selling. They will appreciate knowing exactly how much their purchase helps impoverished families in developing countries. The company where you purchase your fundraising packages should be able to supply you with literature about the benefits of their products and how it gives back and helps the artisans. Include this information with each sale.
Share your impact. After your fundraising sales are finished, take the time to measure the impact you have made on artisans and their families. Once again, the company where you purchased the fundraiser should be able to give you facts and figures on how you have helped women, children and families. Perhaps your sales have helped 100 women earn a fair income or helped to educate 200 children or built new homes for 15 families. Whatever the impact your sales make, your sellers as well as your customers will appreciate knowing how they have made a difference.
There are many options available in fundraising packages, so you may need to do a little bit of online searching to source a Fair Trade ethical fundraiser package. I encourage you to consider these tips and ideas and then extend your ethical shopping habits to fundraisers for your church, ball team, school, or other organization.
Fair Trade, ethically sourced fundraisers can be found here.
Millions of charity bracelets, also known as cause bracelets, are sold each year in the United States to raise money for a particular cause or charity. And with these sales comes the opportunity to make a difference not only for the cause but also for the lives of workers who craft the bracelets.
Have you thought about:
A simple online search will give lots of eye-opening information about charity bracelets and sweatshops so you can become a more informed buyer when you want to help a cause or help a charitable organization.
Education And More is launching a new collection in our Bracelets2Educate line. Every bracelet comes with the knowledge that:
Whether you purchase one for yourself or hundreds of bracelets for an ethical fundraiser for your school or group, you can be assured they are ethically sourced under Fair Trade guidelines. You will be giving:
When you buy a bracelet from the Bracelets2Educate collection you double your impact!