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How we Implement the 10 Principles of Fair Trade as an Ethical Small Business | World Fair Trade Day
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How we Implement the 10 Principles of Fair Trade as an Ethical Small Business | World Fair Trade Day

Here at AARVEN, sustainable and ethical design is at the core of what we do. As a sustainable business, we always try our best to be as transparent as possible, especially concerning our supply chain. We work with small-scale artisans and craft groups who have limited access to international markets. Getting to know all of our artisans personally and spending a long time forging friendships and working relationships together. The nature of the global supply chain means our decisions as designers and consumers affect people all around the world, so we strive to create products which bring as much joy to their creator as they do to our end customer. To celebrate World Fair Trade Day, we wanted to take this time to explain how we as a brand implement the 10 principles of Fair Trade.


Before we get stuck in, let's learn a little bit more about what fair trade actually means. You may not know this, but there is actually a difference between Fairtrade, Fair Trade and fair trade, which can be a little confusing. Fairtrade and Fair Trade are both official accreditations, so the sourcing, manufacturing and distribution process must follow strict guidelines to qualify. For consumers, these certifications guarantee the quality and ethical production of the items you buy. Then we have fair trade (all lower case) which simply means goods are fairly traded between producers and the companies purchasing them. This is unregulated and not an official accreditation, therefore you will need to trust the company claiming it. It’s a term often used by smaller businesses and producers who cannot afford the costs of the official certifications. 


Choosing to buy Fairtrade products is a fantastic way to ensure social, economic and environmental justice for the people who make the things we buy. However, it is not the only way. Many smaller producers are not able to be certified as Fairtrade because of the size of their organisations. To be certified as Fairtrade, organisations also have to pay a fee, which many small-scale artisans cannot afford. This is the reason why many of our products are not Fairtrade certified, however it is incredibly important to us to make sure our goods are still fairly traded. To make sure even the smallest-scale artisans don't miss out on working with us, we work to the 10 principles of Fair Trade. This includes making regular workshop visits to check there is no child labour and that working conditions meet our high social and environmental standards.


Let's take a closer look at the 10 principles of Fair Trade as set by the WFTO and the ways in which we work to them. 


“The principles can’t be applied in isolation; they must be considered holistically to provide a roadmap for transformative change. Addressing fair prices, wages, environmental sustainability, social development, and democratic decision-making collectively creates a framework that tackles systemic issues in global trade.”



Opportunities for economically marginalised producers

"Poverty reduction through trade should be a key aim. To gain Fair Trade accreditation, an organisation must support marginalised small producers, and seek to enable them to move from income insecurity and poverty to economic self-sufficiency and ownership."


Here at AARVEN, we work closely with many rural communities who have limited options when it comes to livelihoods. By supporting their crafts, artisans are able to earn a fair and secure wage for themselves and their families. Many of the basket weaving cooperatives we work with in Kenya rely on the income from weaving as they otherwise rely on subsistence farming. During droughts, subsistence farming goes into decline and the revenue they earn from weaving is enough to keep them afloat. The area is also rife with poaching and charcoal burning - both a lucrative form of income in an area where jobs are very scarce. Creating alternative revenue streams such as basket weaving helps conservation by decreasing the need for these harmful practices.

In addition we pay at least 50% up front for all of our orders and never beat down prices ensuring everyone gets a fair deal. This was especially important to us during the COVID outbreak and we are extremely proud to say we did not cancel a single order so that we could ensure all of our artisans were taken care of. 



Transparency and accountability

"There should be transparency and accountability which ensures that relevant information is provided to all trading partners, and the communication channels should be good and open at all levels of the supply chain."


We work collaboratively with all of our artisans, ensuring that they have a say in every part of the production process. We like to establish long term relationships rather than changing producers to drive down prices, this ensures that everyone gets a fair deal.

When designing, here in the UK, we keep our key values in mind to ensure our end products will be something we are proud of. One of our key values is community, we believe collaboration is the key to a more connected future. We know that every person deserves a good quality of life and that this is possible if we share resources wisely. So, whilst designing our products Amy keeps the idea of community in mind, thinking about the artisans we already work with and what future ranges she could design for our existing groups that would positively impact their community.

We are also open and transparent about our supply chain with our customers, allowing you to know exactly where your homewares and jewellery are coming from and who made them. If you'd like to learn more about our global supply chain, please click here.



Fair trade practices

"An organisation must trade with concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalised small producers and does not maximise profit at their expense."


How exactly do we find all of our amazing artisans around the world? That’s where our Head of Adventure and co-founder Bee comes in! Bee has spent years travelling the world, in search of the best artisans and oversees the process of crafting our goods through from production to store arrival. Whilst on her travels, she soaks up the local culture, crafts and meets a whole host of fantastic makers for us to potentially collaborate with. Fed by her desire to uplift peoples lives and create sustainable futures for rural and urban craft people, Bee will choose a country to visit having done many hours of research and forged links with people on the ground beforehand. They will in turn introduce her to groups and continue working with her during the production process. 

Our products are mostly designed in-house and put into production, with a few being sourced directly from the artisans. The goods designed in-house are a collaboration between our co-founders, Amy who uses her wonderful artistic skills and Bee, who draws on her nose for finding beautiful products in the middle of nowhere, using her sense of adventure to take herself there. 



Fair payment

"A fair payment is one that has been mutually negotiated and agreed by all through on-going dialogue and participation, which provides fair pay to the producers and can also be sustained by the market, taking into account the principle of equal pay for equal work by women and men. Fair Payment is made up of Fair Prices, Fair Wages and Local Living Wages."


Prices are chosen and fixed by our artisans, reflecting their labour, the materials and profit. We never try and beat down prices, trusting that our artisans price their work fairly. In addition we always pay 50% of the order in advance and the following 50% on completion to ensure that our artisans have enough revenue to keep them going. 

The women weavers cooperatives we work with in Kenya divide the price paid for the baskets fairly amongst the members so that older and slower weavers also benefit from the overall groups sales. This helps to support more vulnerable members of the community and ensures a fair wage for all. 


No child labour, no forced labour

"The organisation adheres to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national / local law on the employment of children. The organisation ensures that there is no forced labour in its workforce and / or members or homeworkers." 


At AARVEN, we strongly oppose forced labour and child labour, and it is vital to us to ensure we do not support artisans using these practises. We personally visit and audit the artisan groups that we work with, many of whom are proud to commit to zero child labour policies. 

The artisans who make our textiles in India have numerous accreditations and champion ethical production. The workshop has been awarded numerous accreditations including SA8000, GOTS & OekoTex 100 Class as well as being certified by the Ethical Fashion Forum. Employees have access to a range of support schemes including housing facilities, education and healthcare, as well as personal development seminars and training, fostering a positive working environment. 



No discrimination, gender equity, freedom of association

"The organisation does not discriminate in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/AIDS status or age." 


AARVEN has a zero tolerance policy towards any for of discrimination. We actively work with marginalised groups, such as women, disabled people and those living with HIV and AIDS. 

The workshop responsible for making our chains for our Kenyan jewellery is a registered member of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). The non-profit organisation provides support to disabled artisans to help them work with their physical limitations and empower them economically and socially to become fully integrated members of their communities. As well as vocational training, the artisans are provided with many social benefits, including a clinic, nursery, and a HIV prevention clinic.

In India, we work with Silence workshop to produce our incense. The focus of the charity is to offer opportunities to those in need, without discrimination. 85% of Silence staff are physically disabled, meaning many of them had to drop out of mainstream education in their childhood. Silence helps to support these artisans through teaching programs whilst giving them the opportunity to make a living. 


Good working conditions

"The organisation provides a safe and healthy working environment for employees and / or members. It complies, at a minimum, with national and local laws and ILO conventions on health and safety."


We regularly visit our artisan groups to ensure good working conditions are being maintained. Many of the groups we work with have their own cooperatives, offering the artisans educational opportunities, healthcare, childcare and more. 

Love With Actions, the charity who weave our Rwandan baskets, regularly offer artisans access to things such as family planning events, where they can benefit from free access to contraception including, condoms, the pill, implants and injections all paid for by LWA, in addition to on the spot HIV testing. 

Many of our artisans own their own workshops and work the hours that they decide.



Capacity building

"The organisation seeks to increase positive developmental impacts for small, marginalised producers through Fair Trade. Seeking to develop the skills of producers and workers so they can continue to grow and prosper."


We always try to work with artisan groups that provide opportunities for their staff to improve their craft. 

Many of the artisans we work with have already mastered their craft, and so they take on apprentices to keep their handicraft alive. We actively encourage the passing down of these skills through the generations. 

Our artisans, Anton and Benta, aim to to expand their workshop and provide on site accommodation for all of their staff. The business currently employs five staff members (excluding family) whom Anton trained from scratch and have been working with them for between three and seven years.



Promote fair trade

"The organisation raises awareness of the aim of Fair Trade and of the need for greater justice in global trade through Fair Trade. It advocates for the objectives and activities of Fair Trade according to the scope of the organisation. Honest advertising and marketing techniques are always used."


We always share with our customers the importance of considering where your purchases come from. We aim to be as open and transparent as possible and encourage our customers to expect the same from everywhere they shop. 

We always get involved with initiatives such as World Fair Trade Day, Fairtrade Fortnight and Fashion Revolution Week to help encourage our customer to consider the importance of fair trade. 

We champion other brands who are doing wonderful things to promote fair trade too, promoting them across our social media platforms and blog content. We believe in community over competition to create a fairer world for all. 



Climate action and protection of the environment

"Buyers and importers of Fair Trade products and services support their supply chain partners in adopting practices and transport options that encourage sustainable development and protect our planet at this time of crisis."


Everything sold at AARVEN is made from sustainably sourced materials, such as natural renewable sources or recycled metals. 

We always try to combine orders so that we can receive deliveries via sea rather than air freight as this is much better for the environment. 

It is important to us to be as eco-conscious as possible during every step of production. That is why we only use 100% recycled and recyclable packaging when sending out your online orders. From the brown paper tape we use, to the tissue paper, to the cards - each item is ethically and sustainably made to ensure we have as little impact on the environment as possible.

As we are committed to preventing landfill waste, we sometimes use recycled cardboard boxes to pack your orders too. We love to encourage our customers to think sustainably, so please recycle or reuse any of our packaging where possible.  

You can learn more about our eco-conscious packaging here.


A quote we often live by is "Demand quality, in the products that you buy and in the lives of the people who made them" Orsola De Castro. We hope that this quality is clear to our customers when purchasing our products and that you can see the love poured into everything we make, from start to finish. 


Thank you to Karakorum for the inspiration for this blog post.

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