Fair Trade

What is fair trade?

Thankfully, a growing number of consumers care about the artisans that make the products they use, and want them to be treated fairly and be paid a wage that allows them to provide for their families.

This is something that is incredibly important to our team as well. 

In fact, it is one of our founding principles. We have been working with artisans in less developed countries for several years, and two of our founding members, Karin and Richard, take a group of MBA students to Guatemala each Spring to work with artisans to help them learn how to better market their businesses.

One challenge that they came across time and time again, is the artisans did not factor in their own labor when determining a price to charge. 

This is why the retail price you are used to paying might not be appropriate or fair to the artisan.

a Fair, Livable Wage

Fair trade prices pretty much guarantee that a company pays market prices to the producer, but market prices might not really be fair because the middleman or the retailer might make a significant amount while the producer's compensation might not be enough to provide for their families. If you consider fair trade coffee and bananas it is not uncommon that off-season the producers are starving, and they still cannot afford to send their kids to school.

This means that if you look at handwoven items from Guatemala (and possibly other similar countries), the market price might not include labor costs.

We feel the weavers' time is valuable and they should be compensated in some manner. The group we work with has not only been certified through the Fair Trade Federation, but also taught about pricing and fair labor practices.

In addition to paying a fair, livable wage our business model is such that we give back to the the Guatemalan community through donations to a school that has been set up for the weavers' children and those in the surrounding community, as well as donate to Para Adelante, an organization founded by Karin & Richard along with a few of Karin’s MBA students.

Para Adelante provides educational scholarships for Latin American women, and awarded two such scholarships in 2015. The scholarships include the cost of tuition, books, transportation to the school, and childcare, if needed, so the student can attend school.