The BAFTS Annual Conference took place on 20-21st May in Westbourne Grove Church and was a hugely inspiring and fun couple of days. Here are a few things that we felt particularly inspired by and plan to take forwards in our own practice:
1. Forming lasting partnerships is key—This was another year of great Stories from suppliers and shops where we heard from some of the wonderful members of BAFTS, getting an insight into the workings of each brand. Something emphasised by all of them was the importance of long-term relationships with producers in allowing businesses to grow and develop and creating a lasting impact on the groups of people involved in the supply chain.
2. Fair Trade is the answer to the Sustainability Goals—Safia Minney, Founder of People Tree and Po_Zu, gave an inspiring talk on the ways in which Fair Trade addresses the inequalities that the Sustainability Goals are aiming to eradicate. She also emphasised the importance of being specific with the language we use, preferring the term “Fair Trade” to “Ethical” as a way of accurately referring to practice that results in lasting benefit to the workers.
3. Social Media is Accessible—Sian Conway from Ethical Hour enthused about the boundless potential of social media to be used as a platform for making friends and building community, as opposed to a space for self-promotion and sales. Her outward-looking and relationship-focused approach to social media left all in the room feeling like it was something that could easily slot into the Fair Trade values they were already practising, rather than an alienating phenomenon that’s difficult to do well.
4. Design is influenced by People and Places—Laura Queening, of Aura Que, spoke about how her designs take great inspiration from the people and landscapes of Nepal and the colours she sees there. She’d brought along lots of photos of the people she has worked closely with there, most of whom have suffered with or are relatives of people suffering with leprosy, and spoke passionately about the friendships she has made through her partnership. The mutual care and respect between Laura and the artisans she works with is reflected in the beautiful designs of her products.
5. Fair Trade can go further—Josh Pitts gave a very thought-provoking talk on the depths of accreditation, stressing the need to push the standards required by the Fair Trade Foundation further in order to make an even greater difference to the communities affected. To find out more, check out Equal Exchange website.
6. Peruvian Food is the best in the world—We also feasted on some delicious Peruvian fare, whipped up by Igor Siveroni from Southern Exposure. The causa was both rich and refreshing, while the Pisco Sours were heartily enjoyed by all and provided the perfect accompaniment to Sunday’s evening entertainment.
We had an amazing time hearing from and chatting to people doing incredible work to strengthen the impact of Fair Trade retail in the UK, and have gone away feeling truly inspired.
Duncan Smith, from St Pauls Cathedral, commented: “I found the talks extremely inspiring and thought -provoking both in my capacity as a retailer but also on a personal level, as a consumer. The passion of all of the speakers came across so vividly and while obviously for some, this was their first time talking, the room gave the safe space they needed to tell their stories. Added to this, an amazing lunch—who could expect more!” For those of you who, unlike Duncan, were unable to make it, we hope this has given you a flavour of some of our take-away points and hope to see you next year!