The Unpolished article series is a collection of words, thoughts, and musings from the Threads Worldwide founders.
Part of the Fair Trade Federation
We were accepted into the Fair Trade Federation!… and wow – what a process!
We have had our eye on joining the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) since we launched Threads, but never prioritized the application process as it is a grueling one. We started the application about a year ago and worked on it between our other projects and our attention on our growth. On November 6th we learned that we had not been accepted and that we had 30 days to appeal or we would need to wait one year and reapply. During the busiest time of year this was a hard decision to make: turn our attention to appealing, or, wait until the end of 2019 to reapply?
We decided it was important for us to appeal since fair trade is the very foundation of our company – even our sales field are named ‘Fair Trade Partners’! So, I set my attention on appealing the committee’s decision. We work with cooperatives that act upon the 9 principles of fair trade; the challenge however, was proving it.
Reflecting on it now, I answered the questions on the first application with this mentality: ‘hey everyone – we know this cooperative, we like them – trust us!’. It turns out the committee requires more than that! And for that I am thankful.
When you see that a company is part of the Fair Trade Federation, as distinguished by the logo at the top of this page, know that they have been vetted to ensure that not only are the artisans or farmers paid fairly taking their livelihood into account to determine how, when, and how much to pay them, but that they have a voice in the decisions made in their cooperative. They are working in an environment that is safe for them.There are no children working, and the company or organization is working to ensure long-term capacity building so that the artisan/farmers’ work is built in a sustainable way and not a flash-in-the-pan opportunity.
What struck me most is that the calculations to show if artisans were paid fairly included all of their family expenses. In the US, the minimum wage is established by state and federal laws and workers can accept that minimum wage or search for another job. With our cooperatives, the fair wage takes into account the cost of family expenses including food, medical requirements, transportation needs, etc to determine how much should be paid. How much does it really cost to live there? That’s what we pay.
The reason we weren’t accepted the first round was because we didn’t show our work. Like a classic case of providing the ‘right’ answer without the math, we were sent back to the proverbial drawing board.
The result: Deeper understanding and appreciation for fair trade, a newly created 43-question application for partners to complete in order to work with us, and – acceptance into the Fair Trade Federation!
We couldn’t be more proud of the global fair trade movement we are part of and the 200+ members we are working alongside to build equitable and sustainable trading partnerships to create opportunities to alleviate poverty.
To learn more about Fair Trade visit: www.fairtradefederation.org