Our Fair Trade Journey

Mapping Laundromat’s Fair Trade Journey: From First Encounters to Accreditation.

As an accredited member of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF) since 2007, our Fair Trade values and business principles are an immense source of pride to everyone here at Laundromat. We know from experience that it’s something our retailers and suppliers value, too. And for our customers, donning a Laundromat knit is a chance to wear their values on their sleeve (quite literally!).

It’s an immense honor for us to be able to add the FTF label to our knitwear and display the emblem on our website and in our catalogues. To us, it’s a powerful symbol of Laundromat’s underpinning values and a mark of recognition for all the hard work that goes into running a Fair Trade business.

What exactly does it mean to be Fair Trade, and what does a company go through to be able to display the Fair Trade logo? We hope this post gives you some more insight into our Fair Trade journey and how Laundromat is putting 360° Fair Trade into practice 365 days a year!

A solid foundation

‘Fair Trade’ is a term that gets used a lot nowadays. But when Laundromat was founded back in 1993, it wasn’t yet a popular label. Our decision to go into business with Nepal and form a strong foundational partnership with our suppliers was motivated by trust, respect and equality from the very beginning. That first collaboration—which is still going strong today—would set the stage for how Laundromat evolved as a brand.

We pursued fair partnerships and sought to provide income-generating opportunities for rural artisans not because it sounded good, but because it was what we believed in. As it turns out, it was the same thing many retailers and shoppers in Canada and the US believed in, too. To us, Fair Trade is so much more than just a label; it’s a way of life. Even after all these years, our commitment to trading fairly with Nepal has never once wavered.

Learn more about Our Story and Laundromat’s first footsteps in Nepal here.

Earning recognition for something we’ve always believed in

With 14 years of Fair Trade experience already under our belt, in 2007, we decided to take the next step and pursue accreditation. For us, this was a way to clearly articulate our values to our customers. It would also open up new opportunities to learn from others and develop our business—vital, since a culture of constant improvement is something Laundromat has always valued.

Becoming a member of the Fair Trade Federation was no easy feat. It required a rigorous screening and verification process, and now demands ongoing monitoring to make sure we meet and exceed all the standards. It’s more than worth the hard work to be able to count ourselves among a select number of businesses committed to strengthening and promoting Fair Trade. We proudly display the FTF logo as a symbol of our commitment to being a leader in the global Fair Trade movement.

A holistic approach to Fair Trade

As members of the FTF, we share the Federation’s ‘360° Fair Trade’ approach. This ethos differs to other Fair Trade philosophies in that it demands social and environmental responsibility from all aspects of business.

360° Fair Trade is a holistic path to Fair Trade. It means that we, as an organization, go beyond the Fair Trade basics of fair wages and safe working conditions to pursue a 360° approach. This relies on a foundation of true partnerships with artisans geared towards creating positive change. From finding ways to preserve traditional skills, to keeping families together by working in rural areas, Laundromat keeps Fair Trade front of mind in all business decisions.

How Laundromat puts 360° Fair Trade into practice

While achieving recognition from the FTF was a massive achievement for Laundromat, it doesn’t mean we’re resting on our laurels. We are constantly searching for ways to improve working conditions and create new skill development opportunities for our artisan partners.

As public awareness of Fair Trade continues to grow and more and more businesses embrace principles of social responsibility, customers have now come to expect more—and we think that’s a great thing! Laundromat will always strive to meet and exceed the hopes of everyone involved in our business, always motivated and guided by the needs of our partners in Nepal.

These are just some of the ways Laundromat is putting Fair Trade into practice on a daily basis:

  • Ensuring equal opportunity and equal wages for women.
  • Training and improving the skill sets of our artisans to ensure better quality craftsmanship. This results in increased sales and production, thus ensuring a viable and sustainable business model.
  • Helping our suppliers to replacing diesel-powered generators with solar panels to improve air quality.
  • Providing schooling for community kids in need, from kindergarten to graduation.

Learn more about our approach to Fair Trade.