Jude's Visit to Fairtrade at St. Michaels, Oxford
“This week, I had the pleasure of visiting the wonderful Fairtrade at St. Michaels shop, tucked away in the heart of Oxford. Like so many of stalls and shops who sell Fairtrade goodies, it is an Aladdin’s cave of enticing, ethical and sustainably sourced treats, all displayed so beautifully!” – Jude
Amidst her whistle stop tour, Jude managed to grab a few minutes with Daniella Cromwell, Assistant Manager of Fairtrade at St. Michael’s, for an insightful interview exploring Daniella’s relationship with fair trade.
How many years have you worked with Traidcraft?
I have worked in the shop five and a half years, since January 2014.
How did you first get into fair trade?
When I got the job as Assistant Manager at Fairtrade at St. Michaels. This was my first introduction to the fair trade world which I previously had known very little about. The job was initially temporary for maternity cover. It has since turned into being permanent and long term!
Which producer story has really stood out to you over the years?
My trip to visit the Hands of Hope project in Nong Khai, Northern Thailand in July 2017 has impacted me the most.
A little background of the project:
This project, which gives dignity to those living with HIV/AIDS, by providing them with employment through the making of cards and stationary out of Saa paper (from the mulberry tree), is one of the many branches of good work that has been born out of the work of the Good Shepherd Sisters in Nong Khai. In the early 2000s, during an AIDS epidemic in the north eastern part of Thailand, many were ostracized from their families and communities due to the stigma attached to the disease. The Garden of Friendship, created by the Good Shepherd Sisters in 2008, offered a space for patients to rest and recuperate once they were finished at the hospital when they may have had nowhere else to go. Thanks to antiretroviral medicine and ongoing care and support from the sisters, many of those that began here are now working for the Hands of Hope project.
July 2017 was my first opportunity, since working for Fairtrade at St. Michaels, to get to meet some of our producers of products that we sell in the shop. In this case, it was the Hands of Hope project. Run by Antonia, who is from Adelaide, it was inspiring for me to see a “foreng” meaning foreigner in Thai, be like a mother to the entire community, speaking fluent Thai and managing a space where the workers are clearly happy and enjoying their work. I was welcomed in like a family member and would have happily stayed for longer if I could.
It is wonderful to be the buyer of crafts and homeware for Fairtrade at St. Michaels and to get to sell all of our wonderfully handcrafted products to our customers in our little basement shop in Oxford. It makes it all the more rewarding when you see their joy on buying a unique, handmade item, to then be able to tell them about the person behind it. Getting to meet the producers, seeing where these products are being made, hearing their stories and how their lives have been impacted in such transformative ways has been one of the best parts of my job so far.
What does fair trade mean to you?
It means a community and network of people (traders, producers, suppliers, activists, the list goes on) from all walks of life, of varying backgrounds, working, creating and collaborating together, doing their best to make a small difference in the world.
It means putting the person first before any aim to make a profit. It means going beyond what you might normally do, working for the best outcome for all. Looking for the highest good in a person despite the odds.
If you’re ever in Oxford, why not pop in and explore some of the wonderful, Fairtrade treats on offer?