Feb 20, 2019
The Fair Trade Federation is an association that works to
elevate and strengthen fair trade partners in the United States and
Canada. It's a key partner in the global fair trade movement. On
this edition of the podcast, we catch up with the organization's
executive director, Chris Solt.
Things You Don't Want To Miss:
Come To The Fair Trade Federation
- 1:20 - I'm going to be speaking at the Fair Trade Federation
Conference in Austin, Texas in March. If you live in the area, you
need to come check it out. There will be all sorts of speakers,
fair trade organizations showing their wares, breakout sessions,
and much more. For more information, visit fairtradefederation.org.
The Chris 101.
- 3:45 - Chris takes us all the way back to
the beginning and shares the story of his upbringing in Vermont and
Ohio. Chris' father was a band director, and he grew up learning to
play the drums, bass, guitar, piano, and many other instruments. He
was even in a band, and he just knew he'd become a musician. He
chose to skip college and become a recording engineer while working
in Border's in Cleveland. In 1999, Chris became a father and
attended college. His degree in Social Science landed him in a Ten
Thousand Villages store, and it ultimately changed his path
Following A Different Path.
- 8:04 - Chris took a job with a company
called Ten Thousand Villages. It's a nonprofit
that markets fair trade artisan products to alleviate poverty
around the world. While there, Chris learned how commerce and
retail could be leveraged to impact lives and boost local
Becoming The Executive Director At The Fair Trade
- 10:58 - A friend connected with Chris and led him down the path
toward working with the Fair Trade Federation where he now serves
as their executive director.
How Do We Find Our Calling?
- 12:38 - Maybe you grew up wanting to be a teacher or a doctor,
so you went to school and turned your passions into a profession.
However, maybe your path hasn't been as clear. Chris shares how his
life experiences in his twenties led him toward his calling later
What Is The Fair Trade Federation?
- 14:10 - The fair trade industry consists of more than coffee,
tea, and chocolate. There are all sorts of businesses involved, and
the Fair Trade Federation is a trade association that seeks to
strengthen and promote these organizations. Their mission is to
build equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and create
opportunities to alleviate poverty. The Fair Trade Federation works
with all sorts of wholesalers, retailers, nonprofits, and faith
communities. These organizations seek to promote justice and
provide opportunities for laborers all over the world to find
dignity in their work while sustaining their livelihood.
How The Fair Trade Federation
- 19:50 - The federation operates under principles of
transparency and accountability for the purposes of creating
opportunities, promoting fair trade, ensuring fair wages, and
developing safe working conditions for laborers. They also fight
for the rights of children, cultivate environmental stewardship and
respect cultural identity. These seem like high standards, but the
organization seeks to guarantee the products being sold by
federation members haven't come at the cost of someone's health or
dignity. The Fair Trade Federation wants its members to put fair
trade in the very DNA of how they operate.
How The Fair Trade Federation
- 23:50 - The Fair Trade Federation works with all sorts of
marginalized communities. They want to alleviate poverty and
suffering, and they want to be a resource for those trapped in
A Story From Nepal.
- 26:16 - Chris shares the story of a trip to India and Nepal in
2008. While there he partnered alongside an organization called New
Sadle which works exclusively with victims of leprosy. These
victims are seen as outcasts in their villages and are even
considered to be cursed.
Consider Your Purchases.
- 27:08 - Walk through Walmart and consider a $1.99 t-shirt.
While that graphic tee might be harmless to you, there's a real
possibility it was put together by an indentured servant on the
other side of the world. We must consider where our money is
Chris Explains The Difference Between The Fair Trade
Federation And The World Fair Trade
A Difficult Question.
- 34:49 - Can something be ethical and not be fair trade? While
this is a challenging concept to consider, the answer is
absolutely. The Fair Trade Federation sets a high bar for its
retailers, and not every well-meaning company qualifies. The fair
trade movement is a spectrum, and while the term "fair trade" can
get nebulous, any movement toward becoming fair trade is to be
applauded. The simple step of adding transparency to a business can
Fair Trade Is A Learning Process.
- 41:22 - You don't change the world overnight, and you don't
change your behavior overnight. It takes time to educate yourself
about what it means to support fair trade and ethically made goods.
It's easy to be discouraged, but take heart. The small steps you're
taking really do impact lives.
Chris Shares More Details About The Fair Trade
- 45:57 - This conference runs March 26-28th in Austin Texas.
It's the 25th anniversary of the federation. While it's a
professional conference, it's a great opportunity to learn about
the fair trade industry, and the expo portion of the conference is
open to the public.
Getting To Know Our Guest:
- 52:20 - We take a moment to get to know Chris a little bit
better by quizzing him on his favorite tv shows, meals, and guilty
A Memorable Moment:
"When it began to click for me, I realized there is no piece of
jewelry, there is no pair of shoes, there is no t- shirt that is
worth someone else's life being treated as not worthy just so I can
buy that item." - Molly Stillman
To visit the Business With Purpose website, click the