In the late 1990's, Casey Riddell opened a retail shop in Carmel, California, which she called "It's Cactus." The name was a colloquial expression she learned while living in Australia meaning, "It's unique." Over the years, the business grew, moved and changed, from a brick-and-mortar store on Mission between Ocean and Sixth in Carmel to another location on Portola Drive in Salinas, and finally to it's Salinas-based online only incarnation at www.itscactus.com. Throughout all of the changes, though, one thing has remained constant: Our dedication to uplifting lives by fighting poverty with art.
As a direct importer of folk art from Latin America and Metal Art from Haiti, Casey has always worked closely with the artists themselves. Over the years, they have forged bonds of trust and mutual respect; each party confident in the knowledge that together they would grow, learn, and prosper. In Haiti, this has meant cultivating relationships with over 100 artists and sending an average of $20K to the workshops of Croix-des-Bouquets in advance for orders every single month for more than a decade. In Latin America, Casey has pursued the same business model. The idea has always been that, through trade, prosperity would be sustainable. Not just for a moment. Not just for a day or a week, but for a lifetime and beyond. As it turns out, these are the very tenants of Fair Trade.
There are nine basic principles to which Fair Trade organizations, such as the Fair Trade Federation and the World Fair Trade Organization subscribe. They are as follows: 1. Creating opportunity for the economically marginalized. 2. Developing transparency and accountability between trading partners. 3. Building capacity. 4. Promoting fair trading practices. 5. Paying promptly and fairly. 6. Promote safe working conditions. 7. Ensuring the rights of children. 8. Cultivating sound environmental practices. 9. Respecting cultural diversity. (To learn more, log onto www.fairtradefederation.org.)
Why is this important? You, the consumer have said so. In various recent studies conducted by business economics researchers, consumers perceiving the economic, social and environmental benefits of Fair Trade not only claim they prefer to buy Fair Trade certified products, they actually do it, at an average rate of 10% greater sales - even when the price is substantially higher.
Moreover, Raluca Dragusanu Daniele Giovanucci, and Nathan Nunn of Harvard University concluded in their research on "The Ecconomics of Fair Trade" that, "the largest potential benefit of market-based systems such as Fair Trade is that they work within the marketplace. They reward productive activities and production processes that are valued by consumers and that are good for the local environment and economy."
In summary then, Fair Trade is the way It's Cactus has always done business, research indicates that it is beneficial, and you, the consumer have demonstrated that you want it that way. Guess we'll just keep up the good work!