The 9 Principles of Fair Trade
- Mata Traders
- 15 Oct, 2019
Fair trade organizations require commitments. Commitments to our producer partners, commitments to our customers, and commitments to our company. As members of the Fair Trade Federation, our passion for people over profits finds its framework in the format of the FTF's Principles of Fair Trade.
What better time than Fair Trade Month to familiarize you all with the details of our dedication to fair trade? We go through each of the 9 Principles practiced by businesses in the FTF, below.
The Nine Principles of Fair Trade
Create Opportunities for Economically and Socially Marginalized Producers
The interests of producers and their communities are our primary concern.
Develop Transparent & Accountable Relationships
Open communication with producers and customers is key.
A huge part of this promise is maintaining long term relationships with producer groups. We’re not going to change our suppliers due to finding cheaper production elsewhere, or changing fashion trends. We grow together, improving product and solving problems alongside our trading partners.
Five fair trade producer groups make all Mata Traders apparel and jewelry. There are differences between them, but all are organizations that provide more than just a job. Artisans’ training includes the skills needed for their work (like sewing), but also encompasses training in life skills and continuing education in other areas - parenting, hygiene, financial literacy, and topics like domestic violence and child abuse. So, they’re doing the production work, but are also taking a holistic approach to making change in their communities. From Mata, they have the commitment that we’ll return to them every season with the goal of maintaining or increasing our orders.
Promote Fair Trade
The only way to shift the priorities of a well-established and massive garment industry is to push consumers to learn more, and take action to support companies who are headed in the right direction. If you think we tell you about fair trade too much, this is why :D
Pay Promptly and Fairly
This principle is hugely important as it ensures fair wages, but it also corrects a power imbalance all too prevalent in the industry: when producers are paid. It is common for a buyer’s purchase terms to allow delayed payment for goods until 30, 60, or 90 days after receiving their product, leaving the producer vulnerable after having paid for materials and investing hours of work.
Fair trade corrects this by product being paid for up-front. With Mata’s producer groups, we pay 50% upon ordering and 50% when we receive the product. So, before any sales have been made, the artisans have been paid 100%, allowing them to purchase materials before production, and shifting the risk to us if items don’t sell.
Support Safe and Empowering Working Conditions
In the increasingly cheap fast fashion industry, you’re more likely to find poorly maintained factories and demanding work schedules than empowered artisans.
FTF members support workplaces free of discrimination, harassment, and forced labor, spaces that empower producers to participate in decision-making. Many organized as cooperatives to allow for profit sharing, our partner organizations often have artisans hold board seats, assuring their voices and concerns are represented.
These groups are also supportive workplaces for women in particular. Three of our apparel producers are women’s cooperatives, and what we’ve seen and heard from them is that the workplace is one that is truly supportive of women. In a society where women don’t usually work outside the home, we see women grow more confident and take on leadership positions at work, at home, and in their communities.
Ensure the Rights of Children
FTF members never use exploitative child labor, a very common practice in the unregulated handicraft industry, particularly jewelry making – their small hands are ideal for assembling small pieces. From our experience, women making an independent income from fair trade work spend their earnings on their children’s education, sending their kids to secondary school and even college. This is when we see real change happening, breaking the cycle of poverty and setting up the next generation for success.
Cultivate Environmental Stewardship
We encourage the responsible use of resources and eco-friendly production. We redirect unused fabric to tote and jewelry bags and use natural dyes where possible. We also
Respect Cultural Identity
We celebrate diversity, honor Indian and Nepali handicrafts, and respect the cultural identity of all of our artisan partners. To be honest, we’re humbled to be able to bring such beautiful traditions to the forefront of the ethical fashion movement.
Our producer partners are key contributors to Mata's growth and success over the years, and we hold these principles close to our heart. A decade as a member of the Fair Trade Federation is just icing on the cake.