Growing up, my parents would take my siblings and I to Mexico to visit la familia every year. One of my favorite things to do was visit the mercado. Its bright colors captured my attention every time. Las señoras selling their hand embroidered napkins and colorful blouses. The men selling their fruits and vegetables a 5 pesos la bolsita. And while it was exciting for me to observe, what I loved most was watching the young women sitting on the floor making bracelets and earrings by hand. On their clean white cloth in front of them laid all the pretty things they had made in order to sell to those passing by.
I was young back then and didn’t fully understand why it was so important to not just stop and look at what she they made, but to take an interest in their craft by asking questions. “How did you learn to make these? Do you enjoy what you do? Do you make other things?” Besides making a purchase, taking an interest in the person who made it is so important.
Three years ago, I was introduced to a social impact brand by the name of Noonday Collection and I learned about the importance of shopping fair trade. My sister hosted a shopping experience in her home, just like our moms did back in the day with the Avon or Tupperware lady. But this was different. Beautiful, handmade jewelry was laid out in trays across the dining room table along with pictures of women dressed in their saris or huipils (a traditional tunic-like garment worn by indigenous women in southern Mexico and Guatemala). It took me back for a moment to the young girls making bracelets at el mercado. I was captivated by the stories that the Noonday ambassador shared with us about how items were made, who made them, and what it meant to shop fair trade.
Fair Trade, Qué es?
Fair trade is a global movement made up of diverse network producers, companies, consumers, advocates, and organizations putting people and the planet first. Companies with a fair-trade certification like Sseko, The Root Collective, Theo Chocolate, and Noonday Collection strive at providing products that positively impact the livelihoods of others, encourage environmentally friendly production methods, and safeguard humane working conditions.
Fair Trade Principles
Por qué fair trade? Why choose fair trade?
- Fair Payment– A fair price covers the cost of production, pays workers fairly, and still leaves enough profit to reinvest.
- Transparency and Accountability– Involving producers in important decision making.
- Capacity Building– Support for local, community-led development, fair trade premium funds are one way that buyers can support those efforts.
- Education– Learning is key to empowerment. Fair trade organizations raise awareness about the structural inequities of the global trade system.
- No Forced or Child Labor– Labor exploitation is forbidden. Standards go beyond prohibition to address the root causes of forced and child labor.
- Respect for the Environment– Additional premiums are paid for organic farming, recognizing the additional work required and valuing environmental stewardship.
- Ensuring Good Working Conditions– Organizations are committed to following worker protection laws, reasonable work hours, and healthy conditions for all.
- Democratic and Transparent Organizations– Democracy is central to fair trade, empowering small-scale producers and workers with a voice and a vote.
- Building Power and Protecting the Most Vulnerable– Organizations are committed to non-discrimination. They actively support gender equity, equal pay, and access to resources. Workers have the right to organize and bargain collectively.
- Long-Term Direct Trading Relationships– The fewer steps between small-scale farmers and artisans and the end user, the more money can return to the producer.
- Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers– Small-scale producers are often the most marginalized by colonialism and the current systems of trade.
Now you know, amigas. There is a way to make an impact in the lives of others when you choose to purchase from fair trade companies, or directly from artisans when you can. Next time you walk by that booth at the vendor fair, meet a fair-trade company brand ambassador or walk by a young woman making bracelets, remember to take a little time to listen to their stories and form part of the collective movement of making a difference with your dollars.
Diana Loera is a passionate advocate for fair trade and ethical practices as a part-time brand partner with Noonday Collection. She works full time for a non-profit organization called Unbound and loves how her love for her job and artisan advocacy go hand in hand. Diana enjoys spending time with her family and singing with her sisters in the church choir.