Thursday, January 24, 2019

Supporting Small Business Around the World

November 21, 2017 by mbrophy  
Filed under How-To Zone

Fair trade is a social movement with a goal of helping artisans, makers, farmers, and producers, usually in developing countries, realize better trading conditions and promote sustainability. It’s a way of doing business that promotes respect and tries to draw a clearer, straighter line between the maker of a product and the end consumer in international trade.

Sanyork Fair Trade offers fair trade products direct from skilled artisans. Michel Kessler of Sanyork tells The Merchandiser Group, “All of the products that we carry are fair trade. They are all artisan made crafts that we import and sell from our warehouse in Colorado. We carry everything from jewelry, to accessories, to musical instruments and children’s toys.”

Michel explains, “Fair trade is a very interesting concept to us, because we can’t imagine why people would choose to do business any other way. We believe in supporting the people who work to provide for their families and to honor their culture through their crafts.” He continues, “As a family run business, we see the importance of being able to make a living every day and work hard to make it so that the artisans who make our products are able to live happy and full lives while making the one of a kind pieces for people to appreciate all over the world.”

Though fair trade wholesale is not always the easiest business, Michel strongly believes in doing business ethically. “A couple years ago, we traveled through Peru meeting with our artisans and hearing their stories. These stories solidified the importance of fair trade and keeping artisan crafts alive. Story after story was about the lives they were able to provide for their children because of their craft.” Michel continues, “Our finger puppet knitters for example, are a group of about 20-25 women who are all single parents. The women spend their days working together to knit these finger puppets while also sharing the responsibility of caring and feeding the children. The women in this group and in many similar groups don’t have the luxury of being able to find work elsewhere and these tiny finger puppets create an avenue for these women to thrive.”

Michel explains that while fair trade businesses are a positive global influence, there are several misconceptions and drawbacks that prevent the movement from growing further. “I think that in most instances, the biggest drawback about fair trade is that companies choose to raise their prices excessively because they have the fair trade logo behind them.” Conversely, he continues, “I think that a lot of times, buyers aren’t quite sure what fair trade is and it scares them or appears to be an unnecessary extra expense without considering the impact that their purchases have on individual lives.”

Despite the stigma of high prices, many fair trade products are actually very affordable, with price points that can easily fit into a flea market or other value priced marketplace. Additionally, by selling fair trade products, flea vendors can help to support another small business community. “Flea market vendors should consider buying fair trade for many different reasons, but I think one of the biggest reasons is that there are so many similarities between the artisans and the vendors, explains Michel. “In both situations, the person has chosen a career that is very much dependent on the buyer. Both people’s livelihoods and abilities to provide for their family are very much dependent on whether they can be paid a fair amount for their products.”

Furthermore, he continues, “in both cases, the person will encounter offers time and time again to sell their products for less than they’re worth but have to hope to find the person who will see the worth and the effort that goes into their respective work.” Michel concludes, ”When flea market vendors buy fair trade, they have a rare opportunity to support people just like them who are fighting to create a life for themselves and their families that they can be proud of in a world that tries to convince them of their lack of worth.” To learn more about Michel’s company visit

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