We are about to introduce School uniform which is Fairtrade certified! Hurrah. To start with white, red and sky blue polo shirts, white t shirts, navy and red sweatshirts. As more schools ask for more colours we will add them to the range. Helen, Lisa, Natalie Jenny and I have been thinking about this for a while. We already supply many schools with uniform and it seemed such an obvious idea to offer a Fairtrade option.
Of course nothing is that simple – I wish it was! Supply, quality, reliability and stock holding, all need to be thought through.
An article in the Times today reported sales of Fairtrade goods up by 12% in the UK. The majority of this was due to an increase in Chocolate and Coffee sales (Cadbury and Starbucks). However there was not an equivalent increase in sales of Cotton. Other interesting snippets in the article was that now all 58 flavours of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are made with Fairtrade ingredients. Sainsbury’s is the worlds biggest retailer of Fairtrade goods.
So – as Cotton Roots is in the business of Cotton, how do we make our contribution and start to increase sales in cotton? Our stategy is to supply good quality garments at a competitive price. For example offering garments which if the are labeled “medium” actually are “medium”. Time after time. It sounds common sense but in our industry this is not always the case and we searched high and low before finding our manufacturing partner. They consistently makes for us top quality garments every time and it is organised beautifully by Morses who continues to give us confidence. It means that when a customer comes back to us for their second and third orders they are confident of what they will receive.
Price – always a sensitive issue. Again in our industry companies are used to being able to purchase T shirts and polo shirts at incredibly low prices. However we do believe “you get what you pay for” and we have customers who do want good quality garments, printed or embroidered with their logo, along with excellent quality service. Fairtrade T shirts do cost a little more but not that much more. We want to offer good quality at a comparable price and give a real option.
We are based on the beautiful Rose Lane Farm. Our drive is through quietly growing cornfields just showing through the soil. It is a wonderful misty day. Karen and Ros are working to ensure superb high quality embroidery for the Open University ready for the opening of their new restaurants next week. Lisa is in India which reminds me of my trip to visit the Fairtrade cotton farmers I spent time with in November. A different type of farm to Rose lane!
Well we have our thinking caps on here at Cotton Roots. We have stock in five different colours of our Fairtrade and organic cotton T shirts in adult sizes – extra small – 2xl. But we are thinking “Why not stock childrens sizes as well”? It seems like a good idea but are there schools who would like them for part of their uniform? A Fairtrade School uniform. Helen is investigating. We are planning to ask headteachers of schools who are already Fairtrade to see if they would be interested. If you have any comments, thoughts, or suggestions please leave a comment for us. All ideas gratefully received!