This is an old story I like to tell. With a bit of an Aesop’s fable about it.
At the end of a long week, very late on Friday afternoon I took a call enquiring about fleece jackets and polo shirts from a “David”. I was in a very good mood, though I can’t remember why. Anyway he asked lots of questions and I answered the best I could, in fact thought I do say so myself. In the end I thought it would be a good idea for him to see some samples of the clothing he was interested in for his staff. I explained we offer a free sample service, we just ask that the garments are returned within two weeks.
All good happy stuff. I also explained that we take credit card details although we would not take from the card – unless our goods were not returned. Still happy stuff.
I ask for Davids address to send the samples to and he starts…………….. “The Royal Household!”. I stopped. You are going to say Buckingham Palace next aren’t you I said. The answer was yes and then I explained I would still need his credit card details! It was a great afternoon and we did go on to supply The Royal Household with some of the uniform for their gardeners.
The lovely thing about this story that I never know who is going to call us next and although all our customers are top of my list I couldn’t help but be excited about supplying The Royal Household, Buckingham Palace.
This was a while ago but do I still have them down as a customer?- You Bet!
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.
Sauce Consultancy are environmental communications experts. They help their clients get their environmental message across. Whenever we supply garments to them they always give us great designs to work with which reflects their expertise.
They chose organic polo shirts for their staff which we supplied printed with their design. Each bottle in the design matches one on their website, and each relates to an area of expertise.
Today we have been working on organic aprons for the Body Shop. We won the order through their agent (Karen Higgins Projects), organic aprons printed with some beautiful designs. There is an almond on some, passion fruit on another and hemp in another. We think the result is beautiful. Our organic fabric (twill) is made in India and is also certified by Oeko-Tex. The actual organic aprons are made here in the UK especially for us. It took us quite a while to find a supplier, research, trial and error (some shrunk) until we found the perfect fabric for the organic apron range we now have.
We have just introduced organic children’s aprons. It will be interesting to see how much interest they generate. With so many of our competitors deciding to reduce the range of Fairtrade and organic they supply we are doing the opposite. I could think of this as adventurous, foolish, wise swimming against the tide. However I still believe that there are people who want these products. Products that look toward our future, trying not to damage the land and giving a fair wage to the cotton farmers.
We are in a recession and it it hitting us hard. But when I remember the villagers I met in India who grow our cotton…………I think we are so lucky and it makes me determined to keep going. They had so very little but gave us such a warm, excited welcome. proud of their organic cotton. I hope the Body Shop are as excited with their delivery of organic aprons from us.
We had an interesting order recently. The Salvation were back ordering from us. Last year they ordered a large number of Fairtrade T shirts which we printed with the salvation Army crest.
This year we have supplied their Youth Band with jackets containing at least 25% recycled fibres. We have quite a range of different jackets – jackets made with recycled fibres and you really can’t tell the difference. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not!
We have also supplied recycled fleece jackets to the Chalvington and Northampton Recycling Teams for quite a few years, and a number of Wildlife Trusts order recycled caps embroidered with the wildlife logo.
Many of our customers require corporate clothing from us. As we specialise in supplying company clothing with the best possible sustainable and ethical provenance this can be quite a challenge. Our flagship range of Fairtrade certified and organic garments are part of the range of corporate clothing. In addition we do have the ethical policies for our more formal range and can advise, and point people in the right direction. For example we have a range of corporate clothing which includes ethically sourced shirts and blouses, suits, trousers, skirts and workwear. This is manufactured for us by the Co-op who are founder members of the ETI (Ethical Trading Initiative). This range of corporate clothing is excellent quality and we supply one of our larger clients, Canon, trousers from this range for their technical support staff throughout the UK and Ireland.
One way to increase the sustainable provenance of corporate clothing is to manufacture bespoke clothing for our clients. Here at Cotton Roots we have the facility to manufacture shirts and blouses using organic cotton or even made with recycled fibres. Although we have manufactured bespoke items using our Gold rated WRAP certified manufacture we have the no orders yet for the organic or recycled fibre options. As it is relatively new I am sure this will change soon. I will definitely celebrate our first order for these on the blog 🙂
Our full range of sustainable and ethical corporate clothing is being put on our website over the next few weeks as at the moment only a tater is online. So much to do and the time just keeps ticking by.
I recently looked at the Dorset cereals website. We supplied them with aprons which they need for prizes from a competition a while ago. The aprons were a lovely chocolate brown and were both organic and Fairtrade certified aprons.
Well Dorset Cereals have a lovely website and a great competition to win a camper van which is fun and a little/very addictive 🙂 Have a go at http://www.dorsetcereals.co.uk/