I've been in Boston for the past few days for a Fair Trade Futures conference. My goal is to learn more about the Fair Trade market as a whole and to find new products for Idiosyncrazies.
It has been informative and inspirational at time. Chaotic and crazy as well. There are wonderful people that I've connected with and have learned their stories about what part of the Fair Trade pie they fit into: Producer, wholesaler, retail, faith based organizations, importers, brokers.
Similar to my previous occupation there are more women involved in the group than there are men, but then if you look at the history of Fair Trade and who Fair Trade supports the most, this will not surprise you.
Many of the hand made products are made by small groups of women who have been trained to make these items as a way to support themselves and learn a craft that will continue to support themselves. It is not a welfare or a charity, it is way of empowering people to help themselves by teaching them a craft.
Not surprising to me was the link between Fair Trade and environmental groups. Many products use cruelty free, recycled, organic and eco friendly materials.
We had a wonderful speaker this morning: Dr. Kevin Danaher who is the co-founder of Global Exchange, one of the companies I buy Fair Trade products from. In a clean George Carlin kind of way he gets his points across with humor and blunt honesty. Points we've all heard before, but often forget: "it's not about I/me, it's about us. All of us. The human race as opposed to any singular race.
He mentioned an idea that someone had that our congressman/women, being civil servants that they are should wear uniforms and the uniforms should be similar to the NASCAR drivers with all of the little patches representing the corporations that they represent so that we all can identify them! I LOVE this idea.
But one of the most interesting points he made was that we are selling two products: the item itself and the story behind the item. That struck a chord with me. That is how the beginning of this blog began...with the story of how Idiosyncrazies came to be. A dream of what I wanted it to be, a clear vision of what kind of products I wanted in my store and the people who make the products that I sell.
Jack, Michael, Paul, Yvonne, Jeannie, Helen, Wendy, Susan, Beverly, Kim, Maribeth, Eric, Judy, Lois, Dori, Beth, Nina, Sasha and Veronika, Mary Ellen, Laura, Norma, Marge, Clayton, Anita, Abby and Abbey, Veronica, Donna...and others. I don't just want to sell their products...I want the "story" behind it. It helps me believe in what I am selling to my customers.
It's not selling really - it's believing.
Fair Trade products have a lot of different stories and I've learned a few of them this weekend.
There have been 2 markets in which some of the wholesalers and some of the direct producers have set up small samples of their products so that we can touch, feel, smell, taste and see what they are in person. This has also been very important to me. It's a piece of the story.
I have to laugh at this concept of selling a "story" because of a job that I had very briefly. I was let go from that company because I could not tell the owner the story of the product I was supposed to sell.
That is because I didn't believe in it.
The stories I have now...I believe in each and every one of them!