Understanding Fair Trade & Why It’s Valuable To Retailers

Jewelry from World Shoppe Retailers across the country are quickly responding to consumers seeking out more fair trade items by stocking more fair trade in their shops. Fair trade is a movement where artisans in developing countries are paid fair wages, work in healthy and safe working conditions, and no child or sweatshop labor is used.

[tweetmeme]In light of recent news where consumers are learning that many of the products they buy and consume are produced under sweatshop or child-labor conditions, they are beginning to ask questions about how the products are made. According to the World Bank, an estimated 2.7 billion people in the world exist on less than $2 a day. Among the tenets of fair trade is to correct that figure by offering fair wages to farmers and producers.

Retailers are wise to consider reaching this socially-conscious and educated market by stocking more fair trade products in their merchandising mix. Gone are the days when they only fair trade offerings were banana leaf baskets. Today’s fair trade options range from children’s toys to apparel to fashion-week worthy jewelry and accessories.

One example of a great vendor that supports Fair Trade is World Shoppe. It was founded six years ago with the specific intent to support women artisans in developing countries by offering their handmade products to the American market. An example of some of their work includes the efforts of their founder, Megy Karydes, who has been working with artisans in South Africa to bring their gorgeous copper and brass jewelry to dozens of retailers across the United States.

Why Does Fair Trade Matter?

World Shoppe Artisan Fair trade respects people and communities and that is something that resonates with most consumers. Now, by being able to offer affordable, fashion-forward items such as jewelry, apparel and home accessories, retailers can not only provide consumers with products that look great but also make a difference in the lives of artisans in developing countries.

For a list of fair trade companies that wholesale to retailers, visit the Fair Trade Federation ( The organization is hosting its annual Fair Trade Futures ( conference in Boston in September 2010 where more than 700 fair trade supporters will gather and learn more about the movement. It’s a great place to meet other people, company representatives and consumers interested in fair trade.

Article contributed by Megy Karydes, founder of World Shoppe (, a fair trade jewelry and women’s accessories importing business that works with artisans in South Africa. World Shoppe is a proud and active member of the Fair Trade Federation and Megy was also a founding board member of Chicago Fair Trade, working to promote fair trade in her hometown.

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