Well, given that this is a sewing forum, I'll pass on the lecture about my butcher and bakery products and ask a specific fabric-related question.
I'm about to embark on a jeans-making project.
Why should I buy your heavyweight indigo twill denim at £15.80 per metre, instead of a similar product I can get locally for £6.99 per metre? Neither of them are marked with any certification or come with any specific evidence that either the materials are organically produced or that the makers will be fairly renumerated for their work.
Your website says that:
All of the products, people and businesses with whom Offset Warehouse associates adhere to one or more of the following principles:
Pay fair wages, improve working conditions and workers’ rights
Ensure their employees have sustainable livelihoods
Do not use toxic pesticides and chemicals
Use and/ or develop eco-friendly fabrics and components
Minimise water use
Recycle, promote energy efficiency and reduce waste
Promote sustainability within their business
Positively promote ethical awareness through training and/ or other initiatives
Support animal rights
Support alternatives to fast, cheap production and damaging patterns of consumption
Only ONE of the above is necessary for your company to describe my purchase as ethical? So, as long as they do a bit of recycling, then we can give a pass to the fact that they don't pay fair wages to their employees? And you can't work with your suppliers to help them achieve higher standards because you have a business to run and your bottom line is profit..... so how does that set you apart from my local fabric shop?
I don't mean to pick on you, Charlie, it sounds as though you are passionate enough about what you do and, for all I know, your suppliers may well be significantly more ethical in their business practices than the ones I use now - and that would be an excellent thing. But at the moment, I can't see any proof
of that, and that's going to be a sticking point when it comes to shopping with you. For all I know, your prices may be higher simply because you are a smaller business and cannot operate with the same economies of scale as my local supplier, who has an established customer base.
I sincerely wish you all the best, in any case. If you are interested, here is a link to information of Fair Trade Certification Grants for producers who cannot meet the full fees. http://www.fairtrade.net/producer_ce...tion_fund.html
Perhaps one fruitful way you could take your business forward would be to offer some of your consultancy service time to your producers to enable them to manage the process of obtaining certification, should they wish to obtain it?