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Fair Trade Federation Conference

April 25, 2018
Fair Anita at the Fair Trade Federation Conference

Annette (center) with Anna Bottila (left) and Joy McBrien (right) of Fair Anita.

Every year, our Fair Trade buyer, Annette Shamloo, attends the Fair Trade Federation Conference. In March 2018, the conference was held in Westminster, Colorado. Even though our Fair Trade+ Gallery is only four years old, The Little Traveler has become known in Fair Trade circles, giving Annette the opportunity to network with and learn from leaders in the fair trade industry.

In this post, we'll share fun pictures and bits of what Annette learned at the Fair Trade Federation Conference this year. But first...

What is Fair Trade?

If you don't know what fair trade is, here are the basics: fair trade provides a sustainable market for handcrafted products made by artisans around the world. It gives artisans and farmers who would otherwise be under- or unemployed the opportunity to earn necessary income. In this way, it provides families with food, housing, and clothing. The artisans and farmers are paid a fair price to cover costs of materials and provide compensation for their labor and skill.

Fair trade also has a mission to respect the environment. Most of the products you'll find in our Fair Trade+ Gallery are made with recycled, re-purposed, or sustainable materials. Production processes are designed to reduce energy consumption, avoid pesticides, and minimize waste.

Every item in the Fair Trade+ Gallery has a wonderful story behind it.

Now, back to the Fair Trade Federation Conference...

Networking at the Fair Trade Federation Conference

From left to right: Jorge Cam, Blossom Inspirations; Lucia Crawford, Inter-American Trading, Inc.; Teresa Hendricks, Lucia Imports; Annette Shamloo, The Little Traveler; Erika Poulos, Sandpiper Imports; Rosa Chang, Blossom Inspirations


The Fair Trade Federation Conference is a wonderful opportunity for people who are deeply committed to fair trade to learn, network, and discuss future trends in the fair trade marketplace. Annette enjoys reconnecting with some of her favorite vendors as well as meeting new ones. 

Domestic Fair Trade

Annette was excited to meet Erika Inwald of the Domestic Fair Trade Association. Fair trade is often thought to only benefit people in other countries, but that is far from true. Many of the vendors we carry in The Little Traveler's Fair Trade+ Gallery not only empower the disenfranchised abroad, they create jobs right here in the US.

The Domestic Fair Trade Association takes this a step further and explores fair trade opportunities that will benefit marginalized communities in the United States. One area the organization is currently pursuing is working with Native American communities.

Instruction & Inspiration

Starting with breakfast and throughout the day, various speakers shared their knowledge and experiences with conference attendees. The founder of Maggie's Organics delivered a keynote presentation titled: Different Pasts / United Future: Fair Trade in the New Reality.

Maggie's Organics

Bená Burda, Maggie's Organics


Maureen Dunn Fetscher, founder and creative director of Mata Traders, the maker of the fabulous dresses you'll find in our Fair Trade+ Gallery, presented on the topic of Empowering Each Other: Finding Courage and Relying on Community in a Changing Marketplace.

Mata Traders

Maureen Dunn Fetscher, Mata Traders


Another keynote speaker on this topic was Nasreen Sheikh, founder & executive director of Local Women's Handicrafts. Nasreen escaped a forced marriage in Nepal and has since made it her life’s work to fight for women’s rights in that country, where women are often treated as a commodity. She built and continues to grow a sewing collective that empowers local women by teaching them skills and allowing them the opportunity to earn fair wages.

Nasreen Sheikh

Nasreen Sheikh, Local Women's Handicrafts

Awesome Fair Trade Shopping

What fun would it be to learn about all these wonderful products without a chance to get out there and buy some? The conference features an expo with more than 50 Fair Trade Federation member wholesalers showing off their beautiful goods.

Shopping at the Fair Trade Federation Conference

As usual, Annette meets friends wherever she goes. 

Water is Life Kenya

Annette with Colleen Leithren from Water is Life Kenya


Fair trade is making great strides in improving the lives of people around the world. We see our fair trade business grow every year, so we know this is more than a trend—it's a brighter future for all of us.

Little Traveler
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