On October 23 2018, Fair Do’s/Siopa Teg celebrates its 20th anniversary. When we opened our doors on that first day in Llandaff Road, Canton, I never imagined we would still be here, 20 years later! So much has happened during that time, as we have evolved to take up new ideas and opportunities.
Our total sales over the 20 years exceeds £2.5 million – wow! That has done so much to support the fair trade movement and helped transform the lives of farmers and producers across the world. We extended the selling area of the shop premises in 2003 to deal with the growing demand in all things fair trade. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know our many loyal customers and committed fair traders, without whom we wouldn’t be celebrating this momentous occasion.
Working in the community and raising awareness of fair trade has always been an essential part of the Fair Do’s vision. We’ve had many fabulous fashion shows, with models such as Iolo Williams, the late Ray Gravelle and Alex Jones showing off fair trade fashion, including several at the National Eisteddfod. We’ve been fortunate to receive several grants that helped us develop our schools work and other outreach work across south east Wales. It’s always a thrill to welcome school children to the shop for an interactive session, knowing they will return to school informed and excited to pass on what they have learned.
One of the grants enabled us to do research with some of our African producers, showing how every purchase of a fair trade item makes a difference to the producer. Just 55 people drinking one cup of fair trade coffee a day could sustain a Ugandan coffee farmer and their family, paying for their children’s education and all their health care needs. I’m sure our customers go through at least 55 cups of fair trade coffee in a day, therefore helping coffee farmers provide for their families!
Cardiff becoming the world’s first Fair Trade Capital City in March 2004 and Wales becoming the world’s first Fair Trade Nation in 2008 have been real highlights – we all helped make this possible! Welcoming fair trade producers to the shop brings us so much joy. We’ve met cocoa farmers from Ghana, a cotton producer from India, rice farmers from Malawi – such inspiring people who always motivate us to keep going. Patrick, a Ugandan coffee farmer told us, “It is because of fair trade that most of my family have received an education. Because of fair trade, we have constructed good houses, primary schools, health centres; we have more clean water and better roads.” It is so encouraging to hear from the farmers how fair trade has changed their lives and brought improvements that benefit the whole community.
The Fair Do’s ‘family’ has grown over the years – staff, volunteers, directors, suppliers, customers, schools, churches and, since we became a Community Interest Company in 2014 – members. Working with so many enthusiastic and inspiring people is a rewarding experience and I would like to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication in helping us reach this wonderful milestone.
It’s good to look back and reflect on these 20 years, but the task is far from finished. Impoverished farmers and artisans around the world still struggle to survive. We’re also reminded weekly about how challenging it is these days for retailers on our high streets. So, let’s renew our commitment to buying fair trade products and promoting this amazing way of trading!