How did One Earth get started?
Have you heard of the Camino de Santiago? A walk across Spain…well, an unforeseen illness and a chance discussion on whether to visit Casablanca with our Tour Guide started it all. When you visit a place like Morocco, experience its beauty, see the talent of its people and also feel the desperation of a developing country and its lack of resources and you can do something you should..so we did something! Our first country in 2013 was Morocco, in 2014 we added Peru and will continue to work with more artisans from developing nations around the world. We are a business bent on changing the world.
How does One Earth's business model work?
One Earth is a privately owned, family run company that creates opportunity for artisans around the world by creating a marketplace for their handmade goods in North America. We operate using the direct sales model. This means that although we do sell our products directly to customers via our website (a commission is paid to our Consultants from each sale), we rely upon our network of Consultants across Canada, to spread the One Earth message through home parties, basket parties, virtual/online parties and local events. Our Consultants are women (and men) who are passionate about social change and making the world a better place!! They are able to earn an income, give back to their communities all while creating sustainable jobs for those that while super talented, don't have access to the resources we do. We call it a "win/win"
Consultants earn between 25 & 40% commission with every sale; they also can earn compensation based on their teams sales.
Does One Earth follow fair trade principles? Are the products fair trade certified?
From the beginning, One Earth has been operating under the guiding principles of fair trade and remains committed to adhering to and promoting these principles. We work with like minded companies as well to ensure that ethically produced products that are relevant and scalable to a Canadian marketplace are available. Our products are ethically produced not fair trade certified.
Who makes One Earth's products?
All of One Earth's products are made by artisans we work with individually or are purchased from those we work with who work with people in very poor communities and run their business in a manner consistent with our principles. We are in the business of aiding our artisans in building their businesses, not only purchasing their products. The mentality to "teach them to fish" rather than give them fish is important to us and them. We don't own or operate any artisan workshops, but instead, we develop local managers by sending trainers on an on-going basis.
In the year since we were founded, our network of artisan groups has grown to encompass over 50 artisans and groups, something we are extremely proud of. Our artisans have reinvested in their businesses, most recently a group put a new washroom and shade over their workspace for a more comfortable environment. These types of things are not possible without your support.
In what ways does One Earth address business and social justice differently than other companies?
One Earth's entire business model is focused on providing a way out of poverty for those in impoverished communities. At the same time we recognize cultural differences, religious holidays and traditional methods of production. Often our shipments, on there way to Canada, begin on a mule cart. (We wouldn't have it any other way, let people do what they do best :)).
We focus on developing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with our artisans. We pay for all our products 50% up-front and 50% on delivery to provide our artisans with the cash flow they need to grow a sustainable business. Members of our team are frequently 'on location' to spend time with our artisan groups and to train them on topics like designing for the Canadian market and understanding best practices for their businesses for production. We work together :)
How does One Earth select the artisans we work with?
We intentionally look for artisan partners with whom we can make the greatest impact. We focus our relationships on artisans and partners working in specific communities that have great need for work and have had no access to the Canadian market. We work with many types of organizations, including individual artisans, family workshops, cooperatives and non-profits. We tend to work alongside smaller, younger organizations to help them build their businesses as well.
Is there a percentage that is "given back" to the artisans?
At the heart of One Earth's approach to empowerment and impact is job creation. Purchases by our clients create sustained and dignified work for our artisans in Morocco and Peru. As a part of our long-term relationships, we do love to find ways to care for our artisans and their families. In addition to creating jobs, we provide additional support both directly and through likeminded organizations. We don't look at what we do as charity work. We work with independent, proud and talented artisans. We respect them as they respect us. We like to think that together, 'we build people capabilities". You won't find in-depth artisan profiles, we respect each of them as a person, just like us not a side show act. At the end of the day, they are folks just trying to make a living like the rest of us...we love that about what we do :).
One Earth's model is fundamentally different than other social businesses which often are rooted in a charity give-back model. We do not "give back" a percentage to our artisans. Instead, we are joining a movement that provides people in often, terrible situations the ability to move towards economic self-sufficiency through dignified job creation. Our focus is on developing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with our artisans. We know their families and vice versa :)
How does One Earth ensure that artisan partners provide fair wages and safe work environments?
One Earth only works with artisan groups who are consistent with our mission and commit to providing fair wages and safe working environments for them and their workers. With our focus on building long-term relationships, We make on-site visits to our artisan groups at least quarterly (often more often).
In our visits to our artisan groups, we ensure that all of our artisans enjoy safe and healthy working conditions free of child labour and forced labour. The final price we pay for our products is mutually agreed upon by all of us through dialogue and participation and ensures fair pay for the artisans.
Who creates our designs?
We work in partnership with our artisan groups to create designs. Our Co-Founder, Terri-Lynn stays on top of trends and then collaborates with our artisans, to come up with unique designs that pay homage to a culture but also are current and on trend. We combine on-trend design with local materials and heirloom crafts that fully utilize the talents of our artisans. In this way, we harness the strengths of both our team in Canada and our artisan teams abroad to bring you truly unique pieces. Cool eh :)
How can you get involved?
You can support us by sharing our story, purchasing our products, hosting a One Earth Party, or becoming a Consultant.