Trading Fair – How and Why It Makes Sense for Love HeartWood

It’s Fairtrade Fortnight at the moment so I’d like to share with you how and why Love HeartWood trades fairly.

I often use the word ethical to describe my business and what that boils down to for me is being fair. I need to source a lot of things from wood and finishes all the way through to gift bags, strings and labels. My suppliers fit with my values: natural, ethical and honest. Their products are not the cheapest but I know my purchase is having a positive impact. I believe my customers also share these values and are prepared to pay that little bit more for a far more superior, fairly made product.

I’d like to share a few of my choices with you to show you what I mean.

The Acorn Jewellery Collection

When I was looking for a cord to create my Wooden Acorn Pendant I could have gone with a cheap leather cord from China. That would have meant I didn’t know what conditions it was made under and how much the workers were paid. Instead I chose to support Ines Jewelry Finding, a small business much like my own based in Santarem, Portugal. Their cork is sustainable, handmade, vegan and top quality. The air miles are also a lot lower than from China.

The Blue Sky Toy Collection

During my research on wooden toys I noted they’re coated with bright, cheerful paints. One of the constituent parts of a paint is the binder. The binder imparts properties such as gloss, durability, flexibility, and toughness. Most binders are synthetic resins such as acrylics, vinyl-acrylics, vinyl acetate/ethylene (VAE), polyurethanes, polyesters, melamine resins, epoxy, silanes or siloxanes. In other words paint is plastic. I wasn’t happy about coating my beautiful natural toys in plastic so I had to look for an alternative. I eventually chose Lakeland Paints. Their website proudly states:
“After 6 years of product development, Ian West and John Ashworth created the world’s first complete range of odourless, solvent free, non-toxic decorative paints.
Launched in 1989, to this day we stay true to our promise. All of our organic paints and varnishes are hand crafted and colour matched at our factory in the Lune Valley, North Lancashire.”

I love the company’s passion for what they do. Their plant based wood washes give my toys a unique look, allowing the beauty of the wood to show through. Because they are a niche product their prices are higher however the benefits are worth it for me.

Ethical Gift Bags

Many of my gifts come in a printed, cotton drawstring bag. I have to confess when I started my business I ordered these from China and they cost 1p each. When it was time to reorder I decided I needed to know where my bags were coming from and how they’d been made. That was when I discovered Where Does It Come From?

Where Does It Come From? make its own brand of gorgeous, ethical clothes and accessories that are fully traceable. Jo from Where Does It Come From? helped to have my bags handwoven and constructed from ‘khadi’ cotton (a sustainable process) in a Co-operative in Bangladesh. The photo at the top of the page shows one being sewn. Soon I will receive a traceable code I’ll share with my customers to see where their bag came from. These handmade, ethical bags are fairly made and cost more in monetary terms than the 1p bags from China. But because I know they’re handmade by people receiving a fair wage, under fair conditions makes them meaningful to me and therefore valuable.

It’s important to me to support small, handmade businesses, like myself. Their eco credentials are paramount. Buying fair trade adds so much to my products. It reinforces my values and shows I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. Yes, it does cost more but the result is a truly handmade, ethical, sustainable product. I believe that’s a gift really worth giving.

If you’ve enjoyed this you might like:

www.fairtrade.org.uk/