It has been exciting, impatiently waiting for them to arrive. Now the warehouse is filled to the brim with boxes full of them. We have royal blue, red, navy and black. We thought students would be interested in them as these young people seem to be particularly socially aware, committed to Fair Trade, and want to take action.
We thought the interest would come from students at college or university.
But after only a few weeks of the hoodies being delivered we have had lots of interest from schools. They pupils want to wear Fair trade garments for school trips and special events. We embroider or print logos or designs created by pupils onto them. I have enjoyed talking directly with six formers who have been a pleasure to collaborate with. It is these young people who are taking responsibility for placing and looking after orders for their groups and teams.
In a nutshell early days yet but it looks like we have a Fair Trade garment that is going to be popular – which means that we can we can order more, help create fairer working conditions in the garment industry in India.
We were excited again here at bonny Cotton Roots. This has to be the customer who lives the furthest away from us.
The Centro Billingue Waldof in Costa Rica placed an order with us for yellow Fairtrade certified polo shirts for the pupils of the school. We embroidered them with their logo……….. here it is –
It odes make us very proud to be selected. I am an admirer of Rudolf Steiner and think I would have loved to have been taught at a Waldorf school myself when I was a child.
The gallery at the school website is really special. Take a look please! here is a link Centro Billingue Waldorf. You can also find out about the philosophy of Steiner. Thank you Veronica for asking us to supply you.
We are talking to a UK school based on the same principles so are hopeful of working with them too. It’s a bit hush hush at the moment. Shhhhh
My dream of course to work in some way, one day, with the school based at the Findhorn Foundation. That would be a circle. Ahhh
At the end of last year we introduced a new service so that parents can order school uniform for their children online.
I have been very pleased at how popular this is with our school customers. The have usually taken the option of offering the opportunity for parents to place their orders on line, we then embroider the garments, pack them fro each child and then deliver them to the school. We deliver once fortnightly to greatly reduce delivery costs – and of course carbon emissions!
Ordering online means that the school staff do not have to send out order forms, collect money, collate all the orders and then place a final order with us. Instead we set up a simple website for each school which shows only their uniform and then do the rest of the legwork leaving the teachers to teach.
The extra good thing for us is that it gives even more reason for potential new school customers to select us as their supplier. Along side this as we are just about the only supplier who are committed to holding stock of Fairtrade certified school uniform we are getting more and more schools coming on board. I am just about to write to the Fairtrade Foundation to update them on how well we are doing.
The Welsh and Scottish Fairtrade groups have been particularly active in letting school know about us – so a heartfelt thanks to them. It shows too …….we have many more schools who have selected Fairtrade school uniform who are based in Wales or Scotland.
I read this article today. It is a little old now as it was written in November 2010 by Elizabeth Day for The Observer. However is is still very much up to date.
It explains the subsides given by USA, EU and the China to their cotton farmers – and then the impact this has on the price cotton farmers get in the very poor nations. The subsidies really do manipulate the price of cotton and has such a negative impact on the farmers in such places as Mali, West Africa and Gujarat Northern India where we purchase Fairtrade certified cotton for our company Cotton Roots.
Liz outlines the way in which Fairtrade has a positive impact. The “Premium” from the Fairtrade way of doing business resulting in access to health care, clean water and education.
There is also an interesting video which supports the article – watch it here.
I have recently had an update from the Fairtrade Foundation regarding the fair trade cotton production for the garments we have made for us in India. The organisation at the start of our Fairtrade chain is an organisation called Delight. What a great name.
The premium has partly financed water tanks for the groups livestock, as well as a communal stage for meetings and entertainment. They have also spent their premium on helping to finance and construct an English medium school called Swayam Academy through the Mahima Education and Welfare Society trust. The children of the tribal farmers (approx. 110) receive free education, transport, stationary and books at this school. I have visited this school and some of the cotton farmers. Once again I am reminded that when I read articles like the one Liz has written and think back to my visit then the inspiration it continues to give me results in our range of Fairtrade t shirts, aprons, school uniform and and Fairtrade polo shirts.
The real idea is to share. Although the recession is having an impact on us here in the UK. Our wealth is beyond the experince of the cotton farmers I met in India. If we at Cotton Roots together with our customers share just a little, the effects are magnified in such a important way to those growing the cotton and make a real difference in their lives.
We started the process some time ago. The school in Bridgend have a very active eco committee run by pupils. They decided that they wanted to include ethical school uniform in their approach to sustainability and fairness.
The school is being rebuilt and they decided upon a new colour and a new style for their summer uniform and “re-launch” of the school. We are at the stage where they have been pleased with the final samples are we are ready to go into production. Purple with grey trim on the collar and cuffs, also the option of grey polo shirts with purple trim. Even if we do say so ourselves they really do look smart.
They will soon go into production ready for spring and summer next year. The best news? They are made with Fairtrade certified cotton from our cotton roots range.
This is the first secondary school customer we have who have chosen the Fairtrade cotton option. We have lots of primary schools who have Fairtrade uniform. So I am really pleased that the whole order is exciting………Fairtrade, bespoke, made especially for them, and that they are from my homeland South Wales.
If you know of a school considering Fairtrade or Fair Trade school uniform please put them in touch with us. They can ask for me, Susan, and we will work with them from design concept, sampling, right through to the final product.
We think we are the first and the only company with Fairtrade certified school sweatshirts in stock. We now have red and navy and two school have started to order the stock.
It has been quite a long process. Lots of samples made my Morses in India, patterns made and re-made. Styles adapted until we were finally happy. Our Fairtrade cotton for the sweatshirts still comes from northern India in Gujarat. It will be interesting to see how many parents and schools will want them. Well perhaps more than interesting as this has been quite an adventure from start to the finished product. Continue reading Fairtrade School Uniform Sweatshirts→
The news is that we have received our stock of children’s primary school Fairtrade polo shirts. We now have white, red, sky blue and yellow. Better still we have four new schools who have chosen the Fairtrade route for their school uniform options.
I have found that schools often investigate Fairtrade school uniform when a committed parent gets involved. It seems that we are at the same stage that coffee and bananas were fifteen years or so ago. These committed people really do make an enormous impact. Bit by bit things happen.
Our white Fairtrade school polo shirts have been the biggest success along with the white Fairtrade school t shirts. While we are still taking orders for the coloured options the quantities are less.
At Cotton Roots we are still trying and committing our resources to ensure that schools can have a choice. One secondary school in my homeland Wales is really leading the way. They are having Fairtrade uniform made to order for them. I will give details in my next blog but in the meantime we are delighted to be supplying them 🙂 and I am very pleased and proud that the school is from the beautiful South Wales Valleys.
I visited India to spend sometime with the people who grow the cotton for our Fairtrade polo shirts and T-shirts which we supply to schools for their uniform. It was adventure rights from the word go and was fascinating from the moment the wheels of our plane wheels touched down in the City of Ahmedabad.
The whole trip was fascinating and wonderful however, there were two main highlights. We were talking to spinners at the large Mahima factory when we were suddenly ushered along, being told that the children were going home and that we would miss them. ‘Children? What children?’ I was puzzled as I looked around at the adult filled room. We squeezed into an old car and soon arrived at the colourful Swayan School Academy which was an inspiring experience! I was able to briefly visit each class and meet the children who were from the rural farming cotton growing communities surrounding the school. The school was financially supported by Mahima the spinning company we had just visited who produce solely organic and Fairtrade cotton.
The children themselves were so polite and a little shy with us but they were clearly very happy. It was one of those rare moments that I know I will remember forever. As I left the school I realised that the whole trip to India would have been worth that one special visit. The knowledge that by manufacturing Fairtrade and organic school uniforms we were connecting directly with, and supporting this school made everything seem real and worthwhile.
I squeezed into the car again and was driven along a very bumpy track to a Fairtrade co-operative of cotton farmers. I had no idea what to expect as I had been told that the harvest had already taken place. However, another memorable experience was about to take place.
On arrival two young men drummed us a greeting and as I walked into the village I was surrounded by excited children and smiling adults. The harvest was not over and I was shown around the crop by a group of proud farmers. . They seemed honoured by my visit and interest which was so touching because of course it was me who was so honoured at their kind and excited reception.. Later I sat with the head of the village in the yard, and was presented with an Indian doll carrying Fairtrade cotton which was a very touching moment for me. These people, who in comparison to our Western lifestyle have so little, gave so much to me in time and smiling pride, and it may seem cliché but I was truly moved by the whole experience.
Once back from our trip I was absolutely committed, even more so than before, and it seems to me that we to supply Fairtrade school uniform seems the perfect thing for Cotton Roots to concentrate on. It’s fairer, has a good impact on the environment, and helps these children with an education that all our children in the UK already enjoy.
Well hurrah! They arrived today from Morses in India.
Our new, hot of the press, Fairtrade Polo shirt sizing sets.
In our business before our order is manufactured in bulk Morses sends us a set of garments so that we can check that the sizing is just as we expect it – and today our set of children’s t shirt and children’s polo shirts were delivered. They are perfect! We also received our “lab dips”. These are small swatches (pieces of fabric) dyed to show us that the colour will also be perfect.
Morses has been a real help to help. He is thorough, gives me confidence and is looking after the manufacture of our garments. I met up with Morses when I visited India last year. It really makes a difference to talk face to face.
I visited India to spend some time with the people who grow the cotton for our Fairtrade Polo shirts and T shirts for schools. It started out as an adventure and was fascinating from the moment we touched down in Ahmedabad.
There were two highlights. The first was a surprise. We were talking to spinners at the large Mahima Factory when they hurried us along. We were told to hurry or the children would have already gone home. Puzzled we did indeed hurry. We were whisked away and taken to the Swayan Academy.
We were able to briefly visit each class. The children were predominantly from families who would not normally be able to send their children to school. The pupils were from the rural cotton growing communities and the school was supported by Mahima Purespun. The children were so polite, seemed a little in awe, but clearly happy. It was one of those moments in life that I will remember. As we left the school we both looked at each other and said that the whole trip was worth that one visit. The knowledge that by manufacturing Fairtrade and organic school uniform we were directly in the circle that contributed to this school and their future.
Next we squeezed again into the car and were taken by mostly bumpy tracks to a cotton farm co-operative. We had no idea what to expect and had been told the harvest had taken place. I will wite about that experience in my next blog.