Artisanne's first Fair Trade conference - BAFTS 2018
As the founder of a small business that has recently been awarded the BAFTS (British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers) certification I found myself attending the annual conference for the first time and I had no idea what to expect. Fair Trade can often be perceived as worthy and ‘heavy’ subject but this was not the case yesterday. The speeches were inspiring, thought provoking and delivered with great humour. It was a wonderful opportunity to listen, learn and reflect on a range of issues. I was fortunate enough to listen to guest speakers Safia Minny of People Tree and Po-Zu and Sian Conway of Ethical Hour as well as participate in a Gender and Fair Trade workshop.
As I expected, some parts were provocative and, at times, made for uncomfortable, viewing. If you have chance, do watch the two minute ‘Slave to Fashion’ video that Safia Minney shared. It has certainly made me think twice about what I wear and, as a lover of fashion, that is no bad thing.
I expected people to be passionate and knowledgeable - which they obviously were - the debate about "tensile" went over my head. What I found most encouraging was the speakers’ practical, down to earth approach to Fair Trade and business. This was particularly the case for Safia, and it was inspiring to hear how she had gone about creating the People Tree: an affordable fair trade fashion brand, that has found a way to compete, in a market where the lifespan of a fashion item is six months.
Reading the press anyone interested in sustainability and Fair Trade could be forgiven for thinking that it is a ‘hopeless case’ but as Safia and many other delegates have shown, small steps made by many people can make a big difference.
I left the conference recalling an old African quote: