From the start, Raven + Lily followed fair trade principles, but we didn’t use the term fair trade very often in our marketing. We avoided it in the early stages because for many customers the term “fair trade” automatically conjured the assumption that designs would be very traditional artisan or “hippie” in style. We wanted to present our brand as more fashion forward and modern without compromising on ethics or sustainability. However, we changed our mind a few years ago once we felt more established as a brand and as we saw more and more respected brands term themselves as “fair trade fashion”. The traditional mold was being broken.
Soon after, we went through an extensive application process and were officially accepted as members of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF). Raven + Lily is committed to building long-term partnerships that ensure fair wages and safe conditions for our artisans in their home countries. We are so proud to be among the select members of a federation that strengthens and promotes North American organizations fully committed to fair trade.
Let's break down the concept of Fair Trade. Consider this your 101 on the subject. I hope it answers some questions and inspires you to become an advocate and supporter for the Fair Trade Movement. We need more folks like you to really care about how people and the planet are treated in the production process of fashion and consumer goods in general.
What does Fair Trade mean?
Simply put, Fair Trade products are made with respect to people and the planet. To be verified by the Fair Trade Federation, you must complete a rigorous screening verifying your social, environmental and economic standards promote safe, healthy working conditions, protect the environment, enable transparency, and empower communities to build a strong and thriving business. Every certified Fair Trade business must follow the ten Fair Trade Principles.
What are the Fair Trade Principles?
The World Fair Trade Federation (WFTO) prescribes 10 principles for organizations to follow in their day to day operations to uphold their Fair Trade membership.
- Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
- Transparency and Accountability
- Fair Trading Practices
- Payment of a Fair Price
- Ensuring no Child Labour and Forced Labour
- Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association
- Ensuring Good Working Conditions
- Providing Capacity Building
- Promoting Fair Trade
- Respect for the Environment
How does Raven + Lily apply the Fair Trade Principles?
Raven + Lily commits to 360° Fair Trade. Our artisan partners receive a fair wage that is equal to or greater than their country’s minimum wage. Since the minimum wage is often not high enough for basic survival, we provide a living wage that enables them to have access to food, health care, shelter and education.
We are committed to the environment and monitor the supply chain of all of our products. Sustainability is key to Raven + Lily and we use recycled metals to produce our jewelry, and all natural and vegetable dyes for our leather and clothing. Many of our partners are members of WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization). We also partner with Africa’s only carbon neutral fair trade factory to produce some of our new Spring and Summer Collection.
“When women are empowered to earn an income, they reinvest 90 percent of their income back into health, education, food, children, family, and the community.”
-- Source: United National Girls’ Education Initiative (ungei.org)
This week, I’m one of the plenary speakers at the Fair Trade Federation yearly conference in Louisville, Kentucky. I’m excited to meet so many other folks committed to promoting ways to make the world a better place. I’ve been asked to speak about “The Future of the Fair Trade Customer.” Its an honor to share what we are doing and encourage a room of like minded folks to press on and focus on design and branding to really bring the concept of fair trade more mainstream.
To celebrate the start of the Fair Trade Federation Conference, we are giving back in a big way. We are matching every sale on 3/29 with a donation to support our brass partnership in Kenya. This group of artisans has been working in a space based in the leader’s home, but as we are growing with them and they hire more women (2 more this month!), they need to make the move to a more official workshop. Its a great opportunity for them to follow fair trade ideals at every stage of growth, and we want to support those efforts.
We are helping them invest in a space that is up to World Fair Trade Organization standards and have already begun meeting with the leaders about this growth and move. The money raised today will help fund to basic set up costs our artisans need to make a growth move that follows fair trade standards. We are very proud to partner with them and excited to see them grow in a way that truly honors people and the planet.
Click here to shop our beautiful recycled brass jewelry collection and we’ll donate back dollar for dollar sold on 3/29!