Sunday, 24 October 2010
September is the start of a new season for us when lots of our fabulous Fairtrade organic cotton clothes, bags and household items are delivered. This autumn we have a wonderful colour palette of rich autumn reds, greens and blues and in addition to our trademark handwoven fabric, we also have sumptuous organic velvets and soft organic needlecords in our range.
It all started with a container arriving from KV Kuppam with over 450 or our big boxes to unload and unpack. We quickly set to with a team of willing helpers, everyone mucks in from directors to Saturday girls and friends. We distributed these goods to our wholesale customers all over the country and indeed many in Europe and further afield.
We put together our fashion show kits which are so popular with Fairtrade groups everywhere, and of course we stocked up our shops which are always busy.
At the end of September, Carolyn Whitwell, our founder travelled to KV Kuppam to spend some time with our producer partners.
On 6 October we exhibited at the Ethical Fahsion Forum Source Expo in Westminster. It was a very busy and well attended event. We had masses of interest in our Fairtrade certified organic cotton fabrics and have already received some orders. There was a wonderful array of eithical products from bags and buttons to hangers and hats from every corner of the globe.
Last week a further 110 large boxes arrived and we expect more at the end of this week, our warehouse is a very busy and crowded place at the moment. It generally takes us 2 days to turn around a delivery this size. Last week we despatched organic cotton velvet and corduroy fabric and clothes to Estonia, Germany, Holland, France, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Finland, and probaly several more which I can’t remember!
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
My first visit to the village was in 1991. Tragically Barbara Jennings who worked in the Glastonbury BTC shop had been killed just before Christmas 1990 on her way to work. Her husband asked for donations in her memory, to the work of the Link, and with this seed money we were able to set up a small play centre in KVKuppam. Subsequently further small versions of the play centre were established in several other villages in the area and I visited over the years to do further training with the teachers. When we wound up the Link in 2004, we decided to put the money remaining in funds towards building a purpose-built play centre which could later become a model centre for training in the play approach to early childhood learning.
Last January we visited for a month and during this time the play centre was set up, equipped and teachers selected and given rudimentary training. We have just come back from a second visit when we were able to see how well the work of the centre was going and to give some guidance for future development. As you can see from the photos, there are some very happy children clearly enjoying their play in the Patchai kili centre. The name incidentally means Green Parrot in Tamil. If things go to plan we will return next year to set the centre up for training other nursery teachers, and thus disseminate the methods more widely. Learning through play is not traditional in India but in recent years has begun to be practised.
In addition this year we opened the centre for a second use, thanks largely to a generous donation from the South Indian Rural Development trust, which is the charity set up by Bishopston Trading Ccompany and into which all profits not used to grow the business are put. The other room in the building is to be a day centre for elderly people who will come five mornings a week to meet together, to play games, to read the newspaper and to watch television. The ayah who looks after the play centre will also make snacks and hot milk for the elderly people. Just before we left the village we were able to meet those who have been chosen to benefit, six women and four men who seemed very happy to be offered this.
The centre is set, as you will see in the photo above, in a grove of coconuts. It is on the outskirts of Seetaramanpet which is near K V Kuppam. The other village from whom children and old people are drawn is Kamanchemanpet, and both villages share the management of the work of the centre. They are both traditionally weavers’ villages and many of the families are dependent on Bishopston Trading Co for their livelihoods. As you can see, and as is very obvious to us during our visits to the area, Bishopston Trading has made such a difference to the lives of many families over the years, in many different ways.Sally Whittingham
Friday, 30 July 2010
“In our village so many poor people are not able to study. Parents have so many dreams about their children’s future. They can only able to dream because they are very poor, but now because of you they are fulfilling their dreams........ Not only you’re fulfilling their dreams, actually you’re fulfilling their golden dreams because you are giving a very good education in English Medium........You people have a place in our heart.”
(Extract from a letter from Balaji who lives in Seetharamanpet village and is a member of the One Candle Fund committee)
In 2004 my husband Brian and I spent several months in the K V Kuppam area, researching many aspects of daily life in order to produce our web site www.kvkuppam.info
Whilst carrying out our research, we made friends with a large number of families. We were shown great hospitality and were privileged to hear about the hopes and fears of these families, both from parents and children. Over time, we began to hear more and more distressing stories of hardships, sometimes caused by illness or death. In times of trouble, people usually strive to help out family members if possible as there is no welfare state safety net for this community.
The concept of the One Candle Project arose out of a desire, shared by other visitors from Bishopston, to do something to help out, specifically when family problems mean that it becomes difficult or impossible to keep a child in education. After discussion with Mr Immanuel, who is the administrator of the Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs (RUHSA), the development organization based in K V Kuppam Block, the simple structure of the One Candle Project was agreed. We made a bursary available for families who would otherwise not be able to afford to support their children to continue in school. This is for approximately £20-£25 per year and is paid by cheque directly to the children we support and administrated by me with a committee of people from the community and Rural Community Officers from RUHSA. We are extremely fortunate to have the support of RUHSA and some excellent local people. We started with eleven children in 2004 and this number has risen each year as we have been able to raise the funds to support the project. The aim of the fund is simply to enable children from lower income families to complete their education and when a child is granted a bursary we commit to supporting them each year.
In January 2010 we once again visited India and celebrated six years of this successful project with almost one hundred children attending a gathering in the new Pachai Kili Centre which houses the play centre and our new centre for the elderly. The One Candle Fund is now helping sixty children and we are extremely grateful to Bishopston Trading Company for their recent generous support which enables us to help an additional thirty four children from weaving families. It was heart warming to meet so many young ‘Candles’ and to hear them express their thanks so eloquently. It is very humbling to realise what a difference a relatively small amount of support can make. If anyone would like to know more about The One Candle Project, The Pachai Kili Play Centre and/or the latest exciting project with the elderly I would love to hear from you. Also if anyone would like to support us please get in touch.
There are further details about the One Candle Project online here, and Pam welcomes emails from interested people: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sally's daughter, Rosie, will be running the Indian Queen's Half Marathon on August 1st and all funds she raises will be donated to the projects run by Sally and Pam in K.V.Kuppam. Sponsorship donations can be placed online here.
The Bishopston-Kuppam link is a registered charity (number 283659).
The One Candle Project takes its name from a saying sometimes attributed to Gandhi:
‘It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness’
Monday, 26 July 2010
On Friday of last week we opened the doors of our new outlet store in
For 25 years this year, we have worked in partnership with the South Indian
Monday, 19 July 2010
Friday, 16 July 2010
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
The Fair Trade movement is about to celebrate the 500th Fairtrade town in Britain - here town is used in quite a loose sense: it covers Boroughs, Counties, Villages and even Kingdoms! Many of the Fairtrade groups behind these campaigns have had Fairtrade cotton bags produced for them by Bishopston Trading Company, some have gone on to have their own promotional Fairtrade cotton tea towels as well.
We're happy to say we're members of the Bristol Fairtrade Network which is the steering group behind Bristol's Fairtrade City status. We're also proud to say that the spirit of solidarity and justice that underpins the whole Fair Trade movement runs deep in our veins here at Bishopston Trading. The company grew out of a twinning link that was established between the area of Bishopston in Bristol and the South Indian village of K.V.Kuppam all the way back in 1978.
Here's to the next 500 Fairtrade towns!
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Friday, 2 July 2010
Here are some photos from recent fashion shows:
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Have a look here at Wonder Thunder's blog posts for a short video clip about their breathable, washable and reusable organic cotton fruit and veg bags with quirky cartoon toast and other friendly characters printed on them.
Here are the Wonder Thunder fruit and veg bags in production in K.V.Kuppam
Thursday, 24 June 2010
Last month I caught up with Rosey, one of the students on the course, and tutor, Doug Miller, at a conference in Liverpool. They gave a presentation about the project and explained how much the students had enjoyed the work.
Here is the brief and some photos of the finished garments. We are really impressed by the standard of the work and very pleased to have supplied the cloth for these fantastic pieces.
Using your research as inspiration, design and make a one-off piece using Fairtrade cotton. Focus on one Fairtrade producing region and use your design to communicate the cultural heritage of where the cotton was produced. This piece should show that Fairtrade cotton can be used in cutting-edge fashion."
Friday, 18 June 2010
Here's what they have to say about themselves:
Quangle Wangle Foods is a small artisan bakery business selling hand made, stone baked breads and patisserie from organic ingredients to a gaggle of local customers and a couple of village shops. In addition I make limited edition seasonal jams and jellies from the fruits of my garden and yummies like real lemon curd when my hens are laying more eggs than I can bake solidiers for.
As well as sporting the aprons myself, they will be part of a gift pack containing a lovely loaf of bread and some jams - perfect as a new house pressie, or people who already have everything - as in the picture!
Me? I love them because they are big enough to fold a tuck into at the waist, then tie round at the front and hide the tie in the tuck - then I feel ready for anything - to bake without one now would feel like riding my bike without a helmet!
Jemma - Quangle Wangle
They are based in Shaftesbury, Wiltshire. One day we'd like to visit them and sample their delicious stone-baked breads with seasonal jam.... mmmm!
Quangle Wangle Foods
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Murrays is a delicatessen butchers specialising in local, free-range meat, poultry and cheese. Every Saturday a long queue of people stretches down the Gloucester Road, hungry for a famous Murray's burger - barbecued to perfection whilst you wait.
Murrays can be found at 153 Gloucester Road, Bristol, BS7 8BA (0117 9424025).
Thursday, 3 June 2010
Wonderful cake prepared by Jan.
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
The Mayor and Mayoress cut the Birthday ribbon.
Thursday, 27 May 2010
Hazel will be reading from "Needlepoint" on Friday night at the Halo Bar on Gloucester Road, Bristol, a few doors down from our shop. The show starts at 7:30pm. Copies of "Needlepoint" can be purchased from http://www.citychameleon.co.uk/.
Here's one of the poems featured in Needlepoint
Mapped on the body
Carefully tracing the pattern of Japanese clouds
I move my finger along the swirls
Tattooed lines in black shaded to indigo
Purple and the peach of skin
Hoping to understand the way stations of this map
Or even paths among the heavenly spirals and curves
These mark aspirations for the future
Sweeping across your shoulder
On your arms carp and demons
Swimming against the waters tracklessness
Yellow fins straining against your biceps.
To show ambition creating a ripple in the pool of normal
Pink peonies, my fingers at the paler edge
Wishing these blooms so everlasting on your forearm
Did not represent this transient life
But rather the creativity which blossoms
Under cautious thought in your present
Hidden in the foliage – the blue outfaced demon
His yellow horns alert, that to eager grin
Taking you back to morning spirits and receding resolutions
A fight now past, still intense in colour
No longer internal, inked in
With needles on your map of skin.
Monday, 24 May 2010
Here are some photos of the celebrations at our Bishopston - Bristol and Bradford on Avon shops.
Monday, 29 March 2010
Spring Window Display at the Glastonbury branch of Bishopston Trading Company
Sunday, 21 March 2010
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Did you know, an average UK family has 16 plastic bags in their household at any one time? Unfortunately most will end up in landfill. Cotton bags make a great, eco-friendly alternative, especially if they are Fairtrade and organic.
FairBags is a branch of young enterprise that sells uniquely designed Fairtrade and organic cotton bags. The Young Enterprise Company programme aims to teach students across the UK about the world of business through practical experience. Students set up and run their own company for a year, which involves designing their product or service and selling it to the general public.
As the FairBags team shares Bishopston Trading's passion for ethical and fair trading, we chose to make our entire product line Fairtrade, and sourced our bags from Bishopston. At the end of Fairtrade Fortnight, we've been pleased to play a small part in helping UK consumers see that every one of us has the power to make a difference by what we buy day to day.
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
When she is not making our jewellery or lovely batik scarves, Meena is part of the team that produces our organic cotton tea towels and cloth bags, printed to customers' own designs.
Meena is expecting her second baby this month. She intends to take her three months maternity leave and then return with both children to the job she loves.
Meena's son Srivarsan is a happy cheeky boy who seems to smile all-day everyday. He enjoys playing with the toys and other children. Most of the children in the creche seem to find a strange face a bit scary, but not this little chap!
Friday, 5 March 2010
The tablecloth was produced by 85 schools from across Wales using our organic Fairtrade cotton cloth. The unveiling of the giant tablecloth was followed by a speech from Jane Davidson, Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing. Assembly Members were then asked to swap at least one of their regular shopping items for the Fairtrade alternative as part of Fairtrade Fortnight's Big Swap. These pledges were written on pieces of Fairtrade cotton and added to the tablecloth. So far a third of all Assembly Members have made a Fairtrade swap pledge.
Jane Davidson said: "This event provided an excellent opportunity for promoting the importance of Fairtrade and I was particularly pleased to meet so many Fairtrade enthusiasts from local schools. By switching to Fairtrade we can all play our part in supporting some of the poorest farmers and producers in the world to trade their way out of poverty and it is really encouraging to see so many shoppers of the future supporting the Fairtrade priniciple."
Wales is the world's first Fairtrade country, further information can be found at http://www.fairtradewales.com/.
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
Dozens of tea ladies dressed in organic Fairtrade cotton aprons and headscarves invaded central London to highlight the Fairtrade Foundation’s campaign to swap Britain’s tea to Fairtrade during Fairtrade Fortnight (22 February – 7 March).
The dancing tea ladies, a brigade of people made up of supporters, dancers and Fairtrade licensees plus a Fairtrade tea producer from India, made their way from London Bridge to Trafalgar Square, with a stop-off at the Houses of Parliament via Number 10 Downing Street where they met Sarah Brown.
The tea ladies were wearing Fairtrade organic cotton aprons and headscarves specially made by the Bishopston Trading Company, which has its headquarters in Bristol plus a shop on Gloucester Road.
The photocall with Bishopton outfits was a fun way to flag up a more serious message behind the campaign which aims to tackle the poverty facing more than 14 million people in the developing world who rely on tea for a living but who are suffering from unfair trade conditions.
Bishopston boss Carolyn Whitwell said: ‘We were delighted to supply the special aprons and headscarves to the Fairtrade Foundation to help take our message to London that Fairtrade cotton is beautiful and practical. This year, we are celebrating 25 years of business in Bristol and the West Country and seeing our aprons in Downing Street marks a really exciting start to the year for us.’
The aprons and headscarves were made in the village of K.V.Kuppam in Tamil Nadu, southern India, which has a unique link with Bishopston. All profits which are not used to grow the business in the UK are invested in the factory at K.V.Kuppam.
Fairtrade Fortnight is the annual nationwide campaign to promote awareness of Fairtrade and encourage people to buy products which carry the FAIRTRADE Mark. Fairtrade Fortnight unites Fairtrade supporters, bringing together retailers, manufacturers, producers and consumers.
This year, the Fairtrade Foundation is calling on tea-loving Brits to swap their favourite cuppa to Fairtrade for Fairtrade Fortnight and will be totting up these and other Fairtrade product swaps on a special online swap-o-meter. The Fairtrade Foundation is hoping to get people in Britain to make one million and one swaps over the two-week period and change the lives of millions of farmers in developing countries.
Sunday, 28 February 2010
The event was in effect a sequel to last year's highly successful Cotton On conference, but this time we focused on a younger audience specifically - and asked them to bring their teachers too so that they could learn about sustainable fashion as well!
The conference was opened by Tara Starlet who spoke about her experience of working in the various stages of the Indian textiles/garment industry courtesy of BBC's Blood, Sweat and Tshirts reality-tv show.
After Tara, Anannya Bhattacharjee a garment workers organiser from Delhi spoke about her work in the slums of Delhi and the conditions that garments workers there are subject to. Davo Vodouhe then gave a presentation about his work in Benin with organic cotton farmers and the advantages that organic farming has for the health and finances of small scale cotton farmers there. Davo's work is supported by Pesticide Action Network UK.
The morning's workshops included Designing for Sustainability with Rose Sinclair of Goldsmith's Design Department. In her workshop students worked together in groups to come up with approaches to ensuring that environmental, social and economic sustainability concerns are included in the design of garments from the very outset of the design process.
After lunch People and Planet and the Fairtrade Foundation led a session on introducing Fairtrade cotton into schools and colleges. At the same time, Lyla Patel of TRAID led an interactive workshop on climate change and textile waste in the UK. She had several interesting examples of how we can make the most out of the wardrobes we have already without having to buy new clothes, including Sheena Matheiken who is wearing the same black dress in a different way everyday for a year. Inspired by this, all the participants were asked to customise the same little black dress for a barbie doll; Lyla then photographed all the results and will post them online.
The day ended with a clothing customisation/up-cycling workshop led by UWE staff. So far all the feedback we've had has been very positive, photos will follow shortly. Thanks to everyone who came and participated.
Saturday, 27 February 2010
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Monday, 22 February 2010
Our friend Sally at Shared Interest is blogging about her daily Fairtrade Swap, read her posts here. And she's also keeping a video diary, the first installment of which you can watch below.
With literally hundreds of different Fairtrade products now available on the high street and online, Sally's blog is a great way to find out more about the breadth and variety of everyday items that we can purchase to ensure our buying power is part of a sustainable solution to poverty.
Sunday, 21 February 2010
Currently our collection of outfits for small dolls such as Barbie, are available on sale at only £3.00, have a look here.
The outfits come neatly packed in a carry-all bag, so your doll can take them with her wherever she travels, and if she wishes to do so by elephant, you can find a whole family for her here!