Beats for Global SeeSaw

Tammy, Han and Me with Global SeeSaw's goodies

Tammy, Han and Me with Global SeeSaw’s goodies

Music, fair trade shopping and wholesome food (and wine) is my idea of a pretty perfect Friday night. That’s exactly the position I found myself in last week at Mettricks Guildhall, Southampton, at Beats for Global SeeSaw. Global SeeSaw are a Hampshire-based social enterprise who work with women in India to produce and sell fair trade bags, clothing, jewellery, homeware and gifts. Southampton graduate and blogger, Hannah Talbot (Han Meets World), pulled the event together to showcase Global SeeSaw’s great work as well as promote local artists (musical ones that is). It was a fairly familiar format for Global SeeSaw, who are used to working with local community groups and churches to hold shopping parties and showcase events. They also sell online and wholesale to independent shops.

Global SeeSaw products

Global SeeSaw products

For me, one of the best things about the evening was meeting Tammy from Global SeeSaw and Han, who I’d previously only known on Twitter, to talk about ethical fashion and social justice and all those things that mean so much to all three of us. I’d recently been feeling a bit lost in terms of my role and impact as an ethical fashion/shopping advocate (see my story here) so just having the chance to get involved in the conversation again was a big motivational boost. I also felt sad that I don’t live in Southampton anymore to fully immerse myself in the cultural shift that seems to be occurring in the town. Because I’m not sure where I’ll be in three/six months I’ve been hesitant to commit to particular events, or make contacts in my local area (i.e. back home, where I haven’t properly lived for ten years). I want to get back into doing things again – doing things and writing about things!

Charlie Hawkins takes to the stage

Charlie Hawkins takes to the stage

Global SeeSaw has been selling fair trade goods since before fair trade became fashionable. They started off as the UK distributor for Freeset, an enterprise with the aim of creating sustainable employment for women who have been trafficked into prostitution. They now work with a range of producer partners in India, using sustainable materials like jute and organic cotton to create their products. All profits from Global SeeSaw are re-invested into the business to create more employment and freedom worldwide. At the heart of their model they fight against human trafficking by providing employment to vulnerable women.

Freedom Bracelets made from recycled saris

Freedom Bracelets made from recycled saris

Last Friday’s event not only showcased Global SeeSaw’s products but also fundraised for the enterprise, with Mettricks donating all of the takings from a limited edition charity cocktail. Attendees were entertained with music from locally-based student artists (shout out to Charlie Hawkins, Aaron Lewns and Archie Combe) and tucked into wholesome dishes from Mettricks’ menu. I nearly went home with one these happy chaps, but I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about a bar crawl around Southampton’s finest. I might have to start my Christmas shopping soon instead!

Why not hold a fair trade shopping party of your own? You’ll find more information about their Freedom Parties here.

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#JustFriday #BlackFriday or #Friyay – your choice.

You’ll be fully aware of Black Friday I’m sure. Another ‘tradition’ to come across the Atlantic, Black Friday takes place the day after Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Thursday in November. This year, Black Friday falls on November 27 and kick starts the holiday shopping season with promotions and discounts. On Black Friday last year, British consumers spent £810m on online purchases alone. That works out to a rate of £9,375 every second. That said, some retailers are taking a softer approach this year and spreading their promotions across the week, or even, the entire period between now and Christmas. One such retailer is Asda who will be offering £26 million worth of promotions over November and December in a bid to avoid the media frenzy of 2014 when this video of shoppers scrambling over one another to get their hands on discounted TVs went viral.

Because I’d rather be asleep at midnight tomorrow rather than logged on to Amazon, I’m on board with Traidcraft who want to remind everyone that it’s #JustFriday. Traidcraft have been ‘Fighting poverty through trade’ since 1979 and this month they have put together a fantastic infographic below on the trials and tribulations of Black Friday and how we can all work to make it a little brighter. Black Friday also coincides with Second-hand First Week, an initiative by TRAID to promote second-hand shopping. I for one know my #Friyay shopping will involve little more than a mulled wine with friends at the local Christmas market. What about you?

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Nominate your Eco Champions for Observer Ethical Awards 2015

Observer Ethical Awards 2015 - nominate image

I’ve taken an interest in the Observer Ethical Awards for years, but I don’t think I’ve ever submitted a nomination. Which is terrible considering a) how easy it is to nominate online and b) how many brilliant people and projects I know deserve recognition. Perhaps that’s why I never nominated, because I simply couldn’t choose one over others, but then that’s an awful excuse too considering you can submit multiple different nominations for each category. With this in mind, I don’t feel entirely comfortable sitting here and telling you to vote, but, you really should vote.

For a start, it’s the tenth anniversary year of the awards. And secondly, Ethical High Street (my ‘baby’) was asked to be an official supporter for 2015. Ten years ago the Observer Ethical Awards launched with the idea that a lot of good people were doing brilliant things for environmental and social justice in the UK and that such acts should be celebrated. Despite national policies to cut carbon emissions and support the vulnerable, it is often up to pioneering individuals and small enterprises to make a real difference to local communities and the environment.

The Observer Ethical Awards celebrate individuals, businesses and groups. You can check out all of the categories below. Nominations have been open since the end of January and are only open for another month, but who has the tricky task of picking the winners? Well, in part you do. Three of the awards will be voted for by the public, that’s,

Best Ethical Product of the Decade
Campaigner of the Year
Green Briton of the Year

The responsibility of awarding the other categories falls on the shoulders of an exceptionally strong team of judges, including:

Stuart Bailey, head of sustainability and climate change, National Grid plc
Dr Damian Carrington, head of environment, the Guardian
Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder and chief executive, Kids Company
Liz Earle MBE, founder, Liz Earle Wellbeing
Ben Fogle, TV presenter, writer and adventurer
Livia Firth, creative director of Eco-Age Limited, founder of the Green Carpet Challenge®
Jane Goodall, primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace
And more!

They will be wading through the nominations for the ethical wildlife award, sustainable style award, community energy project, and categories for arts and culture, film and television and the Ecover Young Green Champion.

The results will be announced at a packed awards ceremony in July. Stay tuned for more updates and get online to vote for your favourites.

Find out more: ethicalhighstreet.co.uk/observer-ethical-awards-2015/

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New Ethical Brands at Berlin Fashion Week

Since it’s inception in 2007, Berlin Fashion Week has been a mecca for championing young designers and sustainable fashion. They run the Ethical Fashion Show and Green Showroom as a platform to promote some of the best ethical and green fashion brands. With an exhibition, a ‘Knowledge Lounge’ for green fashions, panel discussions and other activities, the Ethical Fashion Show Berlin is a genuine B2B fair for the professional fashion trade. Monday sees the start of Berlin Fashion Week 2015, which runs from 19th to 21st Jan. 165 international labels, including numerous new exhibitors, are set to present their progressive designs at these trade fairs, providing information about the future of sustainable production. That’s a lot of exciting new eco fashion!

Two fashion brands showing for the first time at the Ethical Fashion Show are Antiform and my friends at Here Today Here Tomorrow. Already well-loved in England, these proudly British brands are reaching out to Europe and the independent street style movement in Berlin sits happily alongside the high quality, responsibly sourced and produced collections.

Here Today Here Tomorrow is a fashion label that has been committed to social and environmental values from the very start. At the heart of their collections is the consideration of ethical production, beautiful materials and high quality contemporary design. Designed by the team in London, each product from the Autumn Winter collection is hand knitted by skilled Nepalese craftspeople, accredited by the World Fair Trade Organisation.

Antiform is a pioneering and experimental fashion label who is challenging the fashion world from the inside out. Each piece is hand crafted in their UK workshop by skilled makers, dedicated to using industry waste to create innovative fashion pieces combined with traditional craft.

Take a look at their collections below and say hello if you are heading to Berlin next week. The increase in brands to the ethical fashion showroom just goes to show that desire for, and interest in, ethical fashion business is increasing. It’s great that the event is being used to start a conversation too, with the inclusion of panel discussions and book launches, it’s about working together to build a better fashion future.

www.heretoday-heretomorrow.com
www.antiformonline.co.uk
Click here for a list of other exhibitors.

Antiform

Antiform

Antiform

Antiform

Here Today Here Tomorrow

Here Today Here Tomorrow

Here Today Here Tomorrow

Here Today Here Tomorrow

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The Corner Shop – Felt Groceries by Lucy Sparrow

I met Lucy Sparrow in Southampton last month and was really interested to hear about her forthcoming shop opening in London. She’d been busy planning the launch of The Corner Shop for months, but this was a shop with a difference; all of the groceries were to be made from felt!!

As a textile artist, Lucy mainly works with felt and wool creating over-sized soft versions of existing objects and major art works. The Corner Shop is her latest project and has received wide-spread media attention, and for good reason, it’s brilliant! Felt fruit and veg, newspapers, tins of soup, packets of biscuits and pick-and-mix sweets are just some of the goods you’ll find there. You can buy items online made to order or by filling out an order form in the ‘store’. Open until the end of the month, you can visit this cute corner shop in Bethnal Green at 19 Wellington Row E2 7BB. It will then be moved to Brighton in October 2014.

You can find Lucy at: sewyoursoul.co.uk/

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grocery2
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The British Library Eco Fashion Film & Business Resources

BL1 b

I love Atelier Tammam. Founded by ex-Central St Martins graduate Lucy Tammam, the small traditional couture atelier (fashion studio and showroom) based in the heart of Bloomsbury, central London specialise in hand crafted, handmade, high quality bridal and evening wear. They produce stunning pieces, making use of sustainable materials including vegetarian peace silks and recycled vintage laces and fabrics.

The British Library, the world’s largest library, has unveiled a new online film which aims to inspire ethical fashion designers to use their resources to create something new. In the film, Lucy speaks about how the resources in the British Library provide inspiration for her creations and the support offered by the Library has enabled her to further her business. Check out the film to see how Lucy Tammam takes inspiration from The British Library’s Asian and African collection to create one of her dresses, and uses their Business and IP Centre to help run her business.

To coincide with the ‘Made with’ film series The British Library will unveil their Spring Festival 2014 giving emerging and established fashion designers the chance to get inspiration for their next collection. The festival is FREE and runs from 27-31 March. On 28th March 2014, Amber Jane Butchart, fashion historian, writer, and lecturer at London College of Fashion, will explore the glitz and glamour of Jazz Age Hollywood and the costumes that took London by storm (tickets available here). If you’re thinking of setting up your own fashion label The British Library’s Business & IP Centre in St Pancras, has an excellent track record in supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs. Free talks coming up include ‘Introducing Social Media for Small Business’ Wednesday 19th March and ‘Intellectual property for Creatives’ Thursday, 27th March.

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