Having spent the majority of my twenties volunteering with various jewellery projects around Peru, I set up Just Trade back in 2006 in order to provide one of these producer groups, Hope Jewellery, with a long-term, sustainable route to market for their goods. Now in its eleventh year, Just Trade not only continues to meet and work with many talented artisans in developing countries, it also allows my team and I the opportunity to meet people here in Britain whose companies share the same founding principles as ours. Many of these organisations, ourselves included, are members of BAFTS and it was through this network that we met Amanda Thelwall from fellow Fair Trade company, Manumit.
Over the years, Amanda and I have held an active interest in each other’s work and have enjoyed being able to share advice and information at various meetings and trade shows. Last year, we were delighted to hear that Amanda and her husband, Graham, were expecting a baby and know that their subsequent decision to sell their company was an incredibly difficult one. When they approached us to see if we would like to buy and take over the running of Manumit, we were careful not to jump into a decision, however after some careful consideration it was clear that we’d been presented with a really worthwhile opportunity and are honoured to have been given the chance to help the business grow and flourish.
Unlike Just Trade, Manumit focuses on the Fair Trade design and manufacture of textile goods and the challenge of utilising our design skills in a different way is one that we’ve so far found to be really enjoyable. Not only has this opportunity allowed us to expand creatively, it’s also meant that we’ve been able to build up relationships with another talented group of producers from Vietnam and our trip out to Hanoi in October to visit Hoai, Diep and their team was a great learning experience. Considering that Just Trade works closely with eight groups of artisans in Peru, Ecuador and India we not only recognise the responsibility involved in working with such groups but also the importance of these relationships and will do our utmost to continue to support Manumit’s Vietnamese producers.
In October, when Ali, Sophie and Ruth first travelled over to Vietnam, we had successfully been running Manumit alongside Just Trade for a good few months. We had, however, found ourselves gradually starting to consider the possibility that bringing Manumit under the Just Trade brand could be a positive move and one that would allow us to achieve a certain level of cohesion throughout our whole product range. The trip out to visit Hoai, Diep and their team in Hanoi not only provided us with the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the textile production process, it also solidified the need to marry the two companies under one brand; a decision that we feel plays a key role in our commitment to grow the brand all whilst maintaining the outstanding level of quality and service that Manumit customers have come to expect.
And so, from now on, all textile products will be sold under the Just Trade name however our working relationship with our Vietnamese producers remains, and will continue to remain, the same. Alongside our jewellery collections, we will focus on producing accessories including scarves, wash bags, purses and jewellery roles, many of which will soon be on show at Top Drawer and available to order through our website. We hope you’ll enjoy the new collection as much as we’ve enjoyed designing it!
Thanks for reading,
Products from our new range being launched at Top Drawer SS17; Hand Woven Cosmetic Cases and Hand Printed Silk Linen Scarf.