Vendor Spotlight: Just Trade

By now we’re all aware of fair trade. Fair trade gives you the power to change the world every day just from being a little more savvy when picking up your shopping. But for a long time, it also covered simply providing a fair wage to workers.

Now, enterprises like Just Trade are here to say that fair trade is so much more than just a fair wage. Their collaborative business approach means it cultivates long-lasting relationships with its artisans. Combining traditional craft skills with expert knowledge, every piece of Just Trade jewellery is handmade using locally-sourced materials from eight groups based in Peru, Ecuador, India and Vietnam. You can shop their collection at The Big Issue Shop!

This handmade hammered gold plated bangle was made by the women in the Flowering Desert Project in Tamil Nadu, India.

While this handmade cosmetic case made from screen-printed linen comes from a World Fair Trade Organisation registered factory in Vietnam that employs over 100 marginalised workers from Hanoi and the surrounding areas to make textiles.

Coming from economically disadvantaged communities, each of these makers receives not only a fair wage for their work, but training opportunities and fair conditions too.

Vendor Spotlight: Elephant Branded

“The idea of Elephant Branded is like The Big Issue in that it is run like business, not a charity, and shows that business can be a force for good.”

That’s the view of James Munro Boon, co-founder of Elephant Branded – a social enterprise that make bags, laptop cases and wallets out of recyclable materials to make a difference.

For every one sold, a child in Cambodia gets a school bag to help them with their studies.

“The idea of Elephant Branded is like The Big Issue in that it is run like a business, not a charity, and shows that business can be a force for good.”

That’s the view of James Munro Boon, co-founder of Elephant Branded – a social enterprise that make bags, laptop cases and wallets out of recyclable materials to make a difference.

For every one sold, a child in Cambodia gets a school bag to help them with their studies.

“To be honest, that’s the only reason I do it,” he says. “I go out there every three or four months and that has been since uni when I was spending all my student loan on flights out there every five or six months.

“I’ve seen kids growing up and have their own children thanks to the work we do. I love spending time there and I think that the really valuable thing is where we support people to run their own business and build their own lives.”

While Elephant Branded faces a constant battle to find new recyclable materials – with a struggle to find a waste material available in high volume that doesn’t vary in quality and consistency – it is constantly attempting to innovate with new products on the way.

But the original three ranges of products are available in The Big Issue Shop.

“As well as the exposure, I think working with The Big Issue adds a degree of credibility,” says James.

“Just like how it is wrong for me to Cambodia and tell people what to do and how to run their business, The Big Issue gives vendors a chance to work their way out of poverty.

“And I think that people who buy The Big Issue have the same ethos and concerns as we do. I’ve met a family in Cambodia that I would never have had a chance to meet and that’s where I see the synergy with The Big Issue.”