I’m still recovering from the annual Fair Trade Federation conference I attended this weekend here in Portland. My head was spinning so fast when I came home the second night, I had to do a 20-minutes brain dump onto a piece of notebook paper just to get myself to sleep! The conference was a priceless opportunity for me as a fair trade business owner to interact with hundreds of similar companies. Since we’re a rare breed us fair trade companies, the networking, wisdom and experience were invaluable.
I get dizzy when I think about it too much but here are just a few nuggets that were most interesting to me:
- In this down economy, consumers are looking to make a bigger impact with the dollars they do decide to spend. Fair trade has caught their eye and many fair trade companies (Bambootique included) are feeling somewhat less of a pinch than many conventional companies.
- 70% of consumers today seriously look for social and/ or environmental good from companies they buy from.
- Bambootique is somewhat unique in the fair trade world in that I have chosen to be an importer (work directly with artisan groups), a retailer (sell directly to customers) as well as a wholesaler (sell to small shops to resell to their customers). Most fair trade companies are either a wholesaler or a retailer, but for various reasons few are both. Being so many things to so many people has its own set of challenges as well as benefits. No wonder I’m so tired all the time.
- Wonderful, unique fair trade shops exist from coast to coast across the US. Look for one in your area on the FTF’s website!
- Even more exciting is that courageous entrepreneurs are opening new fair trade shops even in this economic downturn, and they are achieving financial success.
Despite all the dizzying details and ideas that left my head fuzzy, the number one takeaway for me from the conference was one of inspiration. There were companies represented that have been in business for several decades and others for only a few months. The common thread we all shared is a driving passion to change the economic landscape in our world from the grassroots up. We believe business has the power to do good. We believe it must. And we are proving it every single day.