Until a few years ago I didn't even know what Black Friday was - didn't even know it existed! But now it seems to be as big, if not bigger than Boxing Day in terms of sales and offers. Every large online and high street superstores seem to take part in this strange phenomenom that suggests this is the busiest shopping day before Christmas!

Originating in Philadelphia, USA, the name 'black friday' was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Later an alternative explanation was made: that retailers traditionally operated at a financial loss ("in the red") from January through November, and "Black Friday" indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are said to be "in the black". [extract from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Friday_(shopping)]

These days it appears to be an excuse for retailers to open their doors early, stay open late and entice customers in with offers and deals. As a customer, I am of course, thrilled whenever I catch a bargain, but despite this, I never feel the need to part with my cash on Black Friday. For one, I'm just not ready to do my Christmas shopping yet - firstly there are still 3 more days until December 1st when the countdown officially begins, and secondly I don't like the idea of feeding multinational companies even more money on this particular day. 

Instead I want to know that the money I spend is going to help producers around the world who spend hours designing and creating beautiful, hand-crafted products for me and you. Through making concious consumer choices, purchasing products which have been bought through fair trade principles, I can help people provide for their families, allow their kids to have an education and be self sufficient. That is why Fair Grounds exists! Since it began in 2006, Fair Grounds is now working directly with over 10 different producer groups in Mexico, The Philippines, India, Palestine, Mongolia, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. 

In 2013, Nina travelled to Mexico on behalf of Fair Grounds, to meet and spend time with the women's cooperative who make the beautiful jewellery we sell. The 12 women live rurally in small villages outside Taxco and 10 of them are single mothers; their husbands left Mexico to try and get work in USA, but have never returned or sent any money back to their families. The jewellery making is the women's only source of income, and because of the partnership between their co-op and Fair Grounds, these women are able to provide for their children, using traditional skills passed on to them from parents and grandparents.

“Our mission is to preserve our artisan traditions and to provide for our families. We are proud of every piece we create.”

Nina was thrilled to meet with the women, seeing first-hand how important the partnership is and how it is enabling the members of the co-op and their families to live their lives. That is why fair trade is necessary... as well as ensuring good working conditions and long term partnerships, it gives artisans the money they rightly deserve for the skill and time spent on their craft, and allows them to care for their families with self respect and dignity. There are no hand outs, extortion or conflicts of interest, just simply a fair exchange of money for product.

This is the reason why we don't join in with Black Friday or Boxing Day sales and why we don't do 241 or Buy One Get One Free offers... Don't get me wrong, we'd love you to buy our products - on any day you choose! - but if we did cut our prices the producers would miss out and suffer, maybe not directly as we always pay the agreed price for the goods up front, but indirectly in that we are trying to build a sustainable business, not a charity, and so in not having money to run the business we would not be able to continue and therefore the people we work with would lose out if we were unable to place orders with them. We believe in every product we sell, that they are lovingly and skilfully made, and that the people who design and make them deserve a fair wage for their work at the very least. We believe in a fair world and promote ethical consumer choice, please join us!