Welcome to the NSW Fair Trade Network

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Did you know there is a New South Wales Fair Trade Network?

The NSW Fair Trade Network is made up of like-minded people who are passionate about fair trade. It includes individuals, schools, councils, churches, businesses and fair traders. It is about sharing ideas and resources in order to better close the economic disparities around the world and empower the people who make our everyday products.  

AfriBeads is a key member of the NSW Fair Trade Network and if you’re interested in joining us in many of the fun events and critical discussions that happen around fair trade in NSW, check out our Facebook page.

It’s also a great place to find out about fair trade markets around Sydney and NSW. I have been known to sit at my computer for hours on a Saturday morning googling things like ‘hand-made’ and ‘fair trade’ along with ‘Sydney markets’. I then remember that most of what I am looking for is on the Fair Trade NSW Network Facebook page. It’s the fastest and easiest place to know where I can go to get something pretty, ethical or tasty while enjoying fun market vibes.

The Network also aims to use the page to let us all know what wild or wonderful shops stock ethical goods around NSW and Sydney. If I want a new pair of ethical pants, my fair trade coffee stock has run out, or I think my fruit bowl really could do with updating to a gorgeous hand-made African bowl – the Fair Trade NSW Network Facebook page is the place to head.  If you want to see an array of some of the beautiful products that are in the Network you can check out their Instagram account under fairtradenswnetworkgroup.

There’s also the more serious side to fair trade. While we love all the exotic and stylish goodies, we don’t ever forget what fair trade is really for, and that is providing a livelihood for people who would otherwise be in dire need. The Facebook page includes articles and comments that inspire and educate about what is going on in this global arena. It is also a place where you can ask questions to people who have been working and thinking about fair trade for years. If you really want to know more, you are always welcome to join the Network or talk to one of us in person. We love fair trade, and we want you to, too! We look forward to hearing from you, and thanks on behalf of all the fair traders for all your support when you buy ethically.   

Hello Fair Trader

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It’s been a long time coming but AfriBeads has finally been recognised as a Fair Trader of Australia!

We’ve been fair trade all along, but it’s nice to have the recognition. The purpose of the Fair Trader endorsement is to recognise the businesses and organisations that don’t just ‘fairwash’. ‘Fairwashing’ is when companies make some of their products fair trade to appear aligned with the ethical movement, when actually their values and practices are not committed to the labour, pricing, environmental and social justice conditions of fair trade. AfriBeads has now been verified and approved by the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand that our production and practices are in line with the principles of fair trade and aid the struggle against global inequality and poverty. By purchasing our accredited Fair Trader products, you can be assured that your purchase is helping small scale producers and their communities.

If you were wondering what these fair trade principles are, they can be found on the Association website. In short they are:

Principle One: Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers

Principle Two: Transparency and Accountability

Principle Three: Fair Trading Practices

Principle Four:  Payment of a Fair Price

Principle Five:  Ensuring no Child Labour and Forced Labour

Principle Six:  Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic

Empowerment, and Freedom of Association

Principle Seven:  Ensuring Good Working Conditions

Principle Eight:  Providing Capacity Building

Principle Nine:  Promoting Fair Trade

Principle Ten: Respect for the Environment

Besides the official and exciting accreditation there are a few perks to being a Fair Trader. These are:

  • The ability to use the Fair Traders logo on business premises and website; 
  • Your products directly promoted to the Fair Trade Association’s Fair Trade Communities; 
  • Special entry rates to the Australian Gift & Homewares Association 2015/2016 Home and Giving Fairs 
  • All the benefits of ordinary membership benefits at a further reduced rate

If you or your workplace are interested in becoming a fair trade member or a fair trader then check it out at the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand website. We look forward to working with you in making the world a fairer place.

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‘The True Cost’

We all love a bargain, but behind that five dollar steal, there are a lot of people paying the true, and painful, cost.

I don’t think it’s terribly surprising for anyone to admit that they love a 70% off sale. It always feels great when you’ve just got a jacket, shoes, and a new pair of jeans for the full price of just one of those items. However, this obsession with ‘getting the look’ for less is the driving force behind a terrifying industry.

This season’s look is shades and neutrals (eg. grey, black, navy and white), but not so long ago it was geometric neon shapes and things that look like highlighter squiggles – I don’t need to be a stylist to know the drastic difference between those two. So as our wardrobes change rapidly throughout the year, we buy more and more clothes and outfits are thrown out. Clothing prices are pushed down as brands fight to fill our new wardrobe space and the people who lose pay are not the retailers, they’re the manufacturers and producers who cannot afford to accept anything else. This whole devastating process is called ‘fast fashion’.

‘The True Cost’, a film about fast fashion and the clothing industry, has recently been released. It will break your heart, challenge you, and inspire you to change the world. This post is really just an encouragement for you to go and see it. You can check it out online at http://truecostmovie.com/ and purchase it for $10 to show it in your workplace, school, university – anything. This movie is about helping the world understand the story behind your clothing and making a difference to the people who work so hard to really put together your favourite outfit.

Fashion Revolution, a movement started around the world in the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, has been showing the film and getting people to ask the question of their favourite brands: ‘Who made my clothes?’ No one really wants to wear clothes made by children in a sweatshop, or cotton that cost the farmer his life with cancer from the pesticides. ‘The True Cost’ and the question ‘Who made my clothes?’ is about uncovering the relationships, people, movements and costs in our everyday wear.

The beautiful thing about fair trade is, you don’t have to do the digging. Whenever you buy fair trade you know there is a positive story to tell, it will be easily accessible and there will be no exploitative practices. That’s why we love fair trade, and hopefully, that’s why you love it too. If you want to understand the world we wear and live in, watch the movie, do some research, and you choose the true cost of your next pair of shoes. 

 

 

The AfriBeads story

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From the roadside to Vogue, and beyond: the AfriBeads story. 

Rosemary first met the future of AfriBeads amongst the burnt-orange dust in Jinja, a town by the Nile outside Kampala, Uganda. A Ugandan woman sat beside her beads in colours as bright as the jewellery she sold. We all bought plenty of them, exclaiming how they were so beautiful and durable. To us then, they were merely striking keepsakes that highlighted the ingenuity and vibrance of the Ugandan people, with each bead carefully crafted out of paper.

We were in Uganda to help build houses for teachers who worked with Watoto, a  charity which takes in widows and orphans and builds them together as safe families and communities. Each day was hot. While we flopped over in exhaustion and ate unbelievably sweet pineapple and kabalagalas (a sort of Ugandan doughnut) from the locals, the Ugandan builders crafted magnificent homes with the funds we had scrambled to produce. It was amazing seeing our donation in action, and much later, the final product.

It’s easy to see the people on the other side of the world as another statistic until you play soccer with them. They thrashed us, but we’re white and unfit, and their fast, agile and healthy. On our second-to-last day we took photos of them and printed them to take back as a parting gift. Most of them had never had a photo of themselves before and their reaction was a magnificently far cry from ours when we see our faces frozen in an awkward smile.

We arrived back in Sydney and it was like reverse culture shock. We are so fortunate where we live, and the gap renders us a world apart far more than just physically. Rosemary was determined to not just let it lie.

We often think of Africa as dry, hot and full of dust and depressed eyes. The Uganda we met was so very different. The people have the warmest smiles and incredible generosity. The soil is vivid and the trees are deep green like rainforest foliage. Everywhere we went was buzzing with life. The streets are often lined with ramshackle tin huts interspersed with white plastered houses and shops. It smells like the earth just before it rains. The people ride on bikes carrying wood slats, bananas and slabs of meat. The buses are busting out, and are trailed by cyclists selling watches. Women walk with baskets on their heads and children bounce balls on the roadside. While their struggle is evident their perseverance and joy is what we saw above all else.

That same year, 2009, Rosemary studied a short course in setting up a small business and contacted April, the travel agent we had used for our trip to Uganda. April put her in touch with Lorna, who had previously worked as April’s housekeeper and had left to set up the Kind Mothers’ Program. Lorna had set up the Kind Mothers’ Program to bring women together to make and sell this paper-bead jewellery so that they didn’t have to leave their children at home for work, and to provide a secure income for their families. Rosemary asked Lorna if she could ship some of the beads to Australia and try selling them to widen their market.

Thus, AfriBeads was born. Currently we support over thirty women and their families, and have shops all over Australia. We have had media coverage in publications from the Manly Daily to Vogue and Women’s Weekly. The point, always though, is the women. As well as supplying them with a regular income, AfriBeads has been able to teach and provide the Kind Mothers with a variety of tools and resources to empower them in their livelihood. We have been able to teach them to sew and supplied sewing machines, donated the tools and fastenings to create the jewellery, the workshop for them to safely work in, and lesson plans and school programs to run for the children. Your partnership and support of AfriBeads enables all this, and allows each family to eat well and regularly, stay safe, and send their children to school so they have a greater hope for the future. 

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The Fashion Revolution in Sydney

Come and join the fair trade Fashion Revolution with people from across Sydney and the Northern Beaches. On April 18th from 6:30pm in Fairlight, there is a Fashion Revolution event being held to commemorate those who died in the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013.

Fashion Revolution day is held every year around the world on the 24th of April, the day of the Rana Plaza collapse. It seeks to revolutionise the fashion industry and inspire change. It asks the question “Who made my clothes?” in order to mend the broken links in the supply chain and reconnect the faces behind the product. It aims to lift the veil over garments and accessories to reconnect people to the relationships and values that go into creating our everyday wear.

Rosemary Frank, the founder of AfriBeads, which is one of the platinum sponsors of the event, talks about the need for heightened awareness in order for people to understand where their products come from and the difference buying fair trade can make.

“We appreciate these gorgeous products because they’re hand-made, they’re beautiful and unique, and they’re also supporting a group of women who were previously so poor… [we’re] helping them out of poverty.”

Fair trade and the Fashion Revolution are a growing movement globally. It weaves lives around the world in a positive narrative of inspiration, empowerment and ethical style.

The event has free entry and features awards for ethical outfits, a documentary film, supper and a guest panel who will discuss ethical fashion and the fair trade movement. A link to the Facebook event can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/761180203951289/.

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Our Christmas gift for you!

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AfriBeads would love to wish you a Merry Christmas or Webale Krismasi from us and the Kind Mothers. We hope that you have a wonderful day, full of the joy of family, friends, and giving. And of course food!

Here’s a fun little Christmas present from us to you. It’s a traditional Ugandan meal often eaten at Christmas called Luwombo.

Ingredients:

–          Chicken or beef

–          Banana Leaves

–          Chicken stock

–          Curry Powder

–          Salt and Pepper

–          Tomatoes (chopped)

–          Green pepper (chopped)

–          Onions (chopped)

–          Ginger (grated)

–          Peanuts (ground)

–          Potatoes or plantain

Method:

Chop the chicken or beef into small chunks. Rub in salt and pepper while it is still raw. Grill (or even better, barbecue over a flame) so that it browns, but isn’t cooked through.

Pan fry your onions, tomatoes and green pepper with the ginger, peanuts, and a little bit of curry powder to make a sauce.

Place the meat inside the banana leaves (you will probably want to chop these down into a rectangle) with the sauce and tie up with some strands from the banana leaf as string. You want one serving in each banana leaf bundle.

Place them in a pot with a little water and steam for a couple of hours, preferably over a flame or on your stove top.

Serve with potatoes or plantain.

 

We hope you enjoy it.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! We look forward to 2015, as we continue to look stylish and change lives together.

 

The AfriBeads team

Rosemary, Leonie, Robyn, Tish, Louise and Jenny

 

Webale Krismasi! : Merry Christmas!

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How do you celebrate Christmas? All over the world the 25th of December is set apart as a day of celebration, including in Uganda.

Christmas is a time of joy, relaxation, food and celebration in Uganda. Webale Krismasi is ‘Merry Christmas’ and they greet one another with Mukulike Okutuuka Ku Mazaalibwa,  but many other traditions are similar to ours.

Festivities in Uganda differ depending on the family, but often preparations and celebrations start long before the actual date. Similar to here, Christmas parties and shopping begin around the start of December, but may not finish until January 1st. There is often an economic boom as many people buy a rare new outfit or shoes for Christmas day. Also, many Ugandans go to church at Christmas; this is usually either on Christmas Eve or the morning of Christmas day.

Another big part of Christmas is the food. For some, it is also the only time when they get to eat meat. Families come together and eat pork, chicken or goat, often cooked with matooke, a dish made from plantain, or a chapati which is similar to naan. It is a time to come together with friends and family, each bringing a dish to share.

This Christmas our ladies will be celebrating with friends and family, rejoicing in the way AfriBeads has been able to help them over this past year. And thank you to you, for making all that possible. 

 

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Tips for your Summer Style

Summer is finally coming! So it’s time to figure out your look for those days at the beach and park.

This year’s colours and styles feature vibrant hues of sweeping colours in block prints or abstract images. These are mainly on feminine long tops, maxi-to-midi dresses, pants and skirts. Amongst the refreshing whites, these blasts of colour brighten up each day.

One way to emphasize your favourite azure blue or brilliant orange is to throw on a single-coloured AfriBeads necklace. It can pull the outfit together and fits perfectly into the breezy bohemian style which is taking over at the moment.

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If you’re more of a multi-coloured person AfriBeads are essential for drawing in those aromatic colours found on your printed pants. Each item can seem a little isolated with a single block of colour on top, and prints below. However, wearing a long multi-coloured necklace with similar colours can easily complete and add flair to your outfit.

 

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Finally, this year we’ve seen big bold jewellery flourishing. If you want to make a statement it doesn’t have to be in an ornate dress, but a simple black or white outfit can be brought to life with a brilliant and daring necklace. AfriBeads’ Jinja-dropKampala, Matoke,  and chunky necklaces all fit perfectly into this category. Just make sure you have the right slim bracelet and earrings (and maybe some coloured heels) to complement it. Then you’ll have perfected this season’s attire.

 

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