so indigo:Ethical and Fair Trade
We are complex beings. We like variety, good quality and style. Yet, we don’t want to exploit people or have our desires literally or metaphorically costing the earth. We would like to be ethical, but we want to be joyful too; most of us aren’t that comfortable in a mud-brown, hair shirt. After all, why should ethical living be an austerity? It occurred to Joanne May and her partner Liz Summers, one day in their garden in Cornwall, that people would be more likely to buy ethical goods if they were offered something they really want, in exciting colours, at a price they can afford.
Enter so indigo, online store and mobile stall. We sell bags and toys and visit fairs and shows throughout the year, as well as a weekly stall at Lemon Quay market in Truro, Cornwall.
The backbone of our goods are supplied by Barefoot from Sri Lanka, who have been producing hand-woven cotton fabric and hand-made toys and bags in an eco-friendly way since the ’60s. They have looked after their small band of sewers and weavers like family, before the notion of ‘ethically produced goods’ was considered much in the West. Seeing Barefoot in the flesh in Sri Lanka, while visiting after the tsunami, was the spark that ignited the creation of so indigo.
We always keep the costs as low as we can. We think it is important to show people that they can have the ‘wow’ factor, with a clear conscience and at a reasonable price. Some people think that they won’t be able to afford beautiful, hand made goods, and are surprised to find that they can. Others believe that bright, stimulating colour equals toxic dyes, and we are happy to tell them that dyes can be eco-friendly and safe and still be vibrant.
The main reaction we get to our market stall is a broad smile, spontaneous laughter and an exclamation of “oh, look at that!” We are frequently told how colourful and interesting our products are, wherever we go. We hope that the website spreads a little sunshine too!
You can see more detail about Barefoot and our own company ethics, as well as so indigo‘s upcoming events on our website. But in a nutshell, we strive to be as respectful as possible to other peoples and the planet in all our dealings; we ship rather than fly; we use degradable or recycled packaging and stationery; we only trade with ethical and fair suppliers.
We are always keen to learn more about being eco-friendly to help us negotiate the minefield of ethical living. It can be, like anything worthwhile, a difficult business for complex beings like us. But we’re getting there!