It’s a term I’d heard before, but had never totally understood before going to the Fair Trade Federation Conference in Indianapolis. There Liz and I were pretty blown away by hanging out with 250 “fully committed” fair traders, including non-profit and for-profit companies, artisan importers along with food and farm producers, wholesale and retail companies, and many students and researchers. Many had been in the movement since the 1990’s and the energy and commitment of the group was phenomenal.
I so appreciated the opportunity to hear about the ups and downs of running a fair trade company with people who have gone before us and dealt with it all too. All participants in the workshops were very honest and transparent about many things that will help us avoid some of the pitfalls they’ve been through. Yes, we’re not the only ones who wonder if we’re paying enough to the artisans, and also asking ourselves if our profit margins are adequate to support the company. And we became even more grateful that we have such a competent production team in Mexico, when we heard stories of some companies who just can’t count on any shipment arriving on time. During the product expo we had a chance to sell our bags to many new retail customers, and we noticed there were many being modeled all around the conference. It’s fun to be popular.
Saving the world? Perhaps not, but after this experience I’m quite sure that at the very least the ‘fully committed fair trade’ movement is making the world a better place. Next year the conference will be somewhere on the west coast, and I hope MZ will be represented by the whole staff!