The Invisible Dividend

Posted by Mandy Abel on

“There is this invisible dividend in the Fair Trade world… it's hope, pride and dignity - because people are solving their own problems through Fair Trade" ~ Paul Rice CEO Fair Trade USA


Fair Trade is a growing international movement which promotes fair living wages to small scale producers and skilled artisans. It is all about improving lives, but not through charity.  Dignity, freedom and empowerment come through opportunity.

There are so many benefits to fair trade. It goes beyond fair wages and helps communities thrive - preserving traditional skills and giving back in the form of education, healthcare, wellbeing and business support. Buying products at a fair price is a more efficient and respectful way of building and supporting a sustainable income for disadvantaged groups than traditional aid. 


Ethical purchasing is so often considered a privilege these days. Fast industry has developed a foothold with cheap imports, less transparency around the creative process and more loopholes for exploitation of people and our precious planet. Companies hide behind clever marketing campaigns and 'green-washed' websites. This makes it difficult for the consumer to know what they are purchasing, and difficult for those who are putting in the time, finances and effort to source things in a fair, transparent and ethical way. We are competing with big companies and brands, sometimes with extremely cheap pricing in an increasingly cost-conscious environment. Our products are not 'cheap'. But they shouldn't be! 


The pieces in our store are handcrafted from quality, sustainable and renewable materials. They are made with care, by people who are trying to provide for their families and create a better life. They are made 'slow' - to order, minimising waste and providing job security.

We are committed to providing ethically sourced products at an affordable price. If you've followed us for a while you may have noticed we don't do traditional 'sales'. We want to make these beautiful and unique pieces affordable for everyone all of the time, in a way that means our business will be viable, so that we can consistently support our artisans and continue to bring kiwis our ethical finds. 

We are not about cost-based pricing - under cutting and constant sales only devalues, and ultimately hurts ethical brands. As the majority of our pieces are crafted by hand, we believe they have value and heart. Cheaper is not always better. Buy less - choose well (truly - we do not need all the things!)

To illustrate why this is so important, I will leave you with the story of Brijesh, summarised from an article by Matr Boomie, one of our artisans based in India ~


Brijesh is a mother of two, and a young homemaker in a small village of about 200 houses. Most men in this village are involved in agriculture but at times they move to larger cities to find other types of jobs. Women have the option to work in fields during harvest time; however, the majority of them are home makers and are dependent upon their husbands and families for income. 

Image credit: Matr Boomie

Brijesh had other aspirations - she’d always had an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to start her own business. One day she found a basket in a market. She came home and reverse engineered it so she could learn how to make them and sell similar baskets. Brijesh sought help from an expert basket maker in a nearby town to learn the process, and after her training, created a small collection for a stand in a local art fair. She was afraid to lose her investment and her family were not supportive of her enterprise, as it was a very different approach to other women in the village.

This is where Matr Boomie’s Indian design team met Brijesh and began discussions of partnering with her to create a line of baskets. As the news of her success started to spread, the basket maker who had originally taught Brijesh contacted Matr Boomie to offer the same product but at a lower price.

When Brijesh found out what happened, she was upset and assumed that Matr Boomie would move their business away from her. However, they made a conscious decision to continue their support of her work and help develop her business. Improving product design and quality helped Brijesh to start marketing her own product locally. This partnership has resulted in good business for Brijesh and been beneficial for Matr Boomie too.

She now has a team of 15 women producing these gorgeous baskets and her family is in full support. The entire community is proud of her for building a sustainable enterprise where women now have another option to make an income. As Brijesh builds her business, Matr Boomie will continue to work with her to gain efficiency and make her pricing more competitive. It is a process which takes time, and additional cost, but she needed a chance to get started. Fair Trade was that chance.

Shop our Matr Boomie collection here, including Brijesh's beautiful and vibrant chindi baskets!

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