What is the difference between certified Fair Trade brands and those that have not received Fair Trade certification?
Recently, there have been an explosion of brands using the term ‘fair trade’ to describe their products. Not all brands that make this claim have Fair Trade Certification. However, for the most part, brands that claim their products are fair trade are part of a movement that aims to address the failures of an economic system that has normalised poor wages and working conditions in order to maximise profitability. Brands that have Fair Trade certification have gone through an extensive process to achieve certification with the Fair Trade Organisation.
Why are some Wandering Heart products Fair Trade Certified, while others are not?
Wandering Heart stocks a range of Fair Trade Certified wool bags. These are from a brand in the United States that has achieve Fair Trade Certification. However, we are confident to stock these products at Wandering Heart because we know the artisans and have visited their workshops firsthand.
Wandering Heart products are not currently certified Fair Trade. There is a cost associated with achieving this certification which, at this point in time, we have elected not to pursue given that we are a small brand and currently are not able to absorb the cost of certification. This is certainly something that we are looking towards achieving in the future.
How does Wandering Heart support Fair Trade?
Wandering Heart works with artisan producers in Mexico and Guatemala. These range from independent artisan families to women’s co-operatives. Each of the artisans that Wandering Heart partners with has established costings for each of their products. When a new product is developed in conjunction with the artisan, the wholesale cost of the product is calculated by the artisan taking into account the time to produce the item and the cost of materials. There have been a number of cases where Wandering Heart has only produced a sample product and has decided not to produce the item on a larger scale given the cost to produce that particular item.
Wandering Heart partners directly with artisans in Mexico and Guatemala and does not rely on third parties to source products. The artisans that create products for Wandering Heart are small scale producers that the Founder, Renee, met during her travels in these two countries. Renee spent a great deal of time with the artisans to understand the creation process.
All artisans that create products for Wandering Heart work from their own homes, or in the case of the women’s co-operatives, in collaborative spaces. Their work is flexible and takes place around their other ongoing commitments.
Preservation of traditional weaving techniques
It is our hope that small brands (such as Wandering Heart) that celebrate and value traditional weaving techniques can contribute to their preservation. In many places, particularly in Guatemala, these are skills that are being lost at an alarming rate because of the proliferation of mass produced, machine made fabrics that replicate the appearance of hand woven articles. Intricate items can take weeks or months to create, and the mass produced items that are now appearing on the market (often using synthetic materials) are much cheaper to buy. This has resulted in many weavers choosing to no longer produce these items.
Respect for the environment
All Wandering Heart items are created from natural materials in small production runs and, for the most part, utilising manual weaving techniques that do not require electricity. In additional to all natural materials, our entire range from Guatemala is created with natural dyes that are sourced from the environment. These products are completely free of harsh dyes or chemicals. Although we currently do not stock vegan leather products, this is something that we are exploring and we hope to add vegan leather products to the range very soon.
Want to read more about the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) 10 Fair Trade Principles?
If you want to find out more about the 10 Principles of Fair Trade you can read about them on the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) site.
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