After working in India and Nepal for many years, I have settled to working with a small number of people who are committed to using traditional techniques and to a social agenda.
The majority of our work is village based, production going on alongside home life, or in small workshops. My time there is spent on a daily basis working alongside producers to design and produce our collections.
Through innovation and design we can take techniques such as weaving, appliqué, block printing and so on, skills which are both ancient and traditional, and make them marketable today. By maintaining a sustainable relationship with a small number of producers we can maintain fair and good working conditions and help small producers access a growing local and international market.
I feel I have found the best people in each field I work, and at the root of our relationships is an instinctive commitment of care and respect for other human beings, generating a livelihood for each person in the chain of inputs. I buy the highest quality available to me and input into the design and production of my collection where possible. My customers demand both high quality goods as well as reassurance about our work ethics and the affect we have on the environment. This is a path I have followed for fifteen years or more, Fair Trade isn’t a label, it is a way of life. Loyalty, sometimes in trying circumstances and the maintenance of good working relationships are great achievements. We face massive competition from big producers and from China, so if we can sustain solid economic growth for a few producers, that is a phenomenal achievement!
We use hand made paper, some of which is recycled, for all our shop paper work such as receipts and packaging. We use cloth bags made from hand printed cotton, which may not be perfect enough for our collections.
Many of the small businesses I work with have education programs as well as social and financial support systems for their employees.
Sponsoring a young woman to study Fashion Design has offered Muna the opportunity to learn new skills and develop her talent as an investment in her future. She dreams of being a business woman, to have financial independence and to be able to support her family in Nepal.
At home, our commitment to the environment comes largely in the form of trees! In the Snowdonia National Park our small farm had been denuded by overgrazing by pigs and sheep. After researching the traditional layout of the fields, Paul has planted 10,000 trees and 500 metres of hedgerow. Controlling invasive species has opened up the fields to wild flowers again and now part of the farm has been notified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.