Just Trade is a design-led jewellery and accessories brand that works in partnership with small Fair-Trade projects around the world, built around the interests of the people who make the products. Founded by jewellery designer Laura in 2006, Just Trade works in collaboration with small craft collectives and women’s cooperatives in rural communities in Peru, Ecuador, India, Indonesia and Vietnam to create handmade jewellery and accessories while providing training and fairly paid work.
Just Trade’s system prioritises producers, communities and the environment. Just Trade selects materials that are locally sourced and environmentally sound where possible and ensures that recycling and waste management are part of the supply chain. ‘We provide vocational training, life-skills and whole-person care,’ explains Laura, ‘and we are committed to sustainable sourcing and production processes which minimise environmental impact.’
Many of the bonus new member 100 Just Trade team are graduates from the School of Jewellery in Birmingham, and they’ve been working in partnership with the Flowering Desert Project in Tamil Nadu, Southern India, providing training in jewellery-making techniques over a period of 12 years.
What is the Flowering Desert Project and how impactful is it for the women working on it?
In 2010, Grace and Lottie, two design graduates working with Just Trade, visited the Flowering Desert Project in Southern India, where they found seven women all trained in tailoring but struggling to work due to an unpredictable power supply. They trained the women in traditional jewellery-making techniques such as beading, polishing and hammering. As the techniques used hand tools, they didn’t need to rely on an electricity source.
The Flowering Desert women work in a safe and supportive environment. They are given free transportation to work, counselling, healthcare, advice on money management and help with educating their children. Several of the women on the project live in a safe house on site, which is a refuge for vulnerable women and children. The rest come from the surrounding rural community where work opportunities are limited.
The training and fairly paid work at Flowering Desert provide a way for the women to upskill and secure future employment. The project started with a handful of women and now provides regular work for 25, helping to equip the women to improve the quality of their lives.
What is Fair Trade?
Fair trade is about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers. It’s about supporting the development of thriving worker communities so that they can have more control over their futures and protect the environment in which they live and work.
As members of the BAFTS Fair Trade Network UK, Just Trade is able to contribute towards fundamental changes in the status of craftspeople in the Global South through Fair-Trade retailing and campaigning. ‘We are so proud that The Flowering Desert Project has been awarded Guaranteed Member status of the World Fair Trade Organization, a leading network of the Fair-Trade movement,’ says Laura.