Fair Trade Campaigns National Conference 2019

Chicago, IL

March 1-3, 2019

Photo recap

I had the absolute joy of documenting influencers of the Fair Trade community during their National Conference in Chicago this year. Though I showed up only to tell their story, I walked away wanting to change some of my ways and wanting to spread the word about what Fair Trade Certified actually means and why it is important for a better tomorrow. In simple terms the Fair Trade community is a large and diverse network that has one common goal of putting “people and the planet first.”

In response to the question, “how do we get people to a place where they care enough to seek out Fair Trade products?”

“Remind them of their values, remind them of what they hold dear, because that is Fair Trade.” - Paul Rice, CEO and Founder of Fair Trade America

In general I think most people want to do the right thing, and that’s what Fair Trade stands for. Once we understand Fair Trade’s commitment to supporting responsible companies, empowering farmers and workers all while protecting the environment, making the choice for Fair Trade should be seemingly easy.

This conference consisted of talks from leaders in sustainability, social justice, community advocacy and Fair Trade. There were breakout sessions which highlighted Fair Trade efforts around the world. Some of the breakout sessions included Climate Action, Anti-trafficking, the Business of Sustainability, Responsible Production and Consumption, and Fair Trade 101: Systems and Standards.

There was also an expo hall where Fair Trade Certified vendors were selling everything from Clothes, Jewelry to some of the best dark chocolate you will ever taste. These companies that were showcased on the Expo Floor were as follows:

* Kroger

* Fair Trade USA

* Chicago Fair Trade

* Five North Chocolate

* Gallant

* Forever Wild Seafood

* Refushe

* Divine Chocolate

* Greenheart

* Causegear

* Mata Traders

The expo floor was a new add-on this year and I think it was a great opportunity for conference attendees to learn more first hand what Fair Trade companies look like up close. Being able to meet with Fair Trade companies was a great opportunity to ask questions and understand the value add of Fair Trade products.

In addition, there was even a Career Fair this year. This was a wonderful experience for students interested in taking their education to the next level. Those who have a passion for the Fair Trade movement were able to meet with leaders of the NLA, Fair Trade USA, and Mata traders to discuss opportunities for pursuing a career within relevant fields.

“Being a part of Fair Trade you have to have a lot of heart for what you do. You have to believe.”

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