In 2010, I attended A Sustainable Faith Conference in St Petersburg, Florida. The Missio Dei Community hosted a conversation for those who valued caring for the poor, human rights issues, and sustainable living. It was a small conference, lead by activist and speaker, Shane Claiborne.
Before this conference, I knew I cared about these issues, but on the second day, we visited Immokalee, Florida, and met with migrant farm workers. I sat in a small room and heard their heartbreaking stories and learned about their progress fighting for fair wages and working conditions. I put a face to what it means to advocate for those working in unsustainable environments making a wage that guaranteed poverty. The Coalition for Immokalee Workers were advocating for a penny per pound increase for tomato pickers--that's it. A penny increase would make a monumental difference for these workers. It sounds cliche to say my eyes were opened that day--but that is exactly what happened.
When I returned, I began researching fair trade practices and started supporting and purchasing from organizations who believed in the rights and humanity of all people. I have only grown in my passionate support of responsible companies who empower workers and farmers. I believe how we choose to spend our money matters.
I have had an idea in my mind for a long time--a photo shoot that features companies I believe in, who seek to do business in life-changing and life-giving ways. This summer, I finally made my vision of a fair trade styled shoot a reality.
5 fair trade businesses participated. 5 organizations who have a mission worth supporting. If you find yourself wanting to purchase ethically and responsibly, but don't know where to begin, I can't recommend these five organization enough. Start with them.
1. Pact Apparel: If you know me, you have seen me in PACT. I wear it almost daily and LOVE THEIR CLOTHES. Pact makes 100% organic cotton apparel and is ALWAYS sweatshop and child labor free.
2. Ten Thousand Villages: This non-profit organization markets handcrafted products made by more than 120 artisan groups in 35 countries. Every purchase is making an impact in the lives of people around the world.
3. Noonday Collection (Special thanks to Aaron Duffy):The story of how Noonday Collective began is inspiring. It is the story of one woman determined to make a difference in the lives of people in Uganda. Noonday offers fair trade jewelry and uses fashion to create meaningful opportunities around the world.
4. Synergy Organic Clothing: Synergy Organic specializes in ethical, organic women's clothing. At its core, Synergy is committed to empowering men and women through ethical employment practices.
5. New Creation: I wanted to include one smaller organization impacting a specific area of the country. New Creation is based in Virginia and is a marketplace where 100% of the profits counteract sex trafficking.
This experience was amazing and it will not be my last fair trade shoot. Thank you to the beautiful venue, Hillcrest Cottage By The Sea, my wonderful assistant Ali of Alexis J Photography and to the amazing models Jennifer and Andrew and Julianna and Tyler. You guys are awesome.
Interested in collaborating with me on a fair trade shoot or having your fair trade products featured? I would love to chat.