Trade as One has been blessed with so many people who have given so much of their time and talent to support what we do. They’ve worked tirelessly to help us accomplish our goals, and we can honestly say that our success has hinged on their efforts. We call these people our stalwarts, and we’re going to profile them here on our blog so that you can see what they’ve done and why they do it. Next on the list: Jimmy Chu. Jimmy has flown himself out to the Chicagoland area twice now to work with us, spent time at a few local events lending his talent, and taken numerous photos that we’ve used as well. He’s been blessed with seemingly endless amounts of optimism and energy. We love him.
What sparked your interest in fair trade?
I think it started with hearing about the unfair practices in the chocolate and coffee industries. From that, the curiosity grew and opened up my eyes to the very large and very real issues that we face today with exploiting human capital in the name of expanding the bottom line.
How did you connect with Trade as One?
Believe it or not – it was plugged during a sermon. Dean Smith, Senior Pastor at the Highway Community in Palo Alto was concluding a sermon around Christmas time and mentioned that that year (2007) he purchased gifts for everyone on staff from the Trade as One website. Intrigued, I gave the website a look and read more about it and loved its vision and mission statement. I wanted to get more involved, so I decided to lob an email over to whom it may concern at Trade as One and within minutes Nathan replied and we had a lunch scheduled. This was around January of 2008 – and it’s been a joy to see Trade as One grow ever since!
Why do you give your time to fair trade/Trade as One?
I think Trade as One is the perfect intersection of where my professional skills connect with personal passion/conviction. I love the transformative ability that business and industry can have on a community, but it also has a darker side of needing to deliver profit to stick around. So there’s a tension between doing the right thing and doing the profitable thing. In that paradigm – often the profitable thing wins because it’s perceived as the right thing. I love that Trade as One and other fair trade organizations are starting from the viewpoint of doing what is right should be a businesses primary objective and profits are still a need, but not at the expense of doing what is right. That’s something I’m willing to throw my hat in the ring for any day of the week.
How have you incorporated fair trade into your life? How is your life different?
It’s really just made me a more informed consumer. I think before I learned about fair trade, my consumer decisions were purely based on cost (whatever was the cheapest/best deal – that’s what I would buy). Being more exposed to the issues surrounding fair trade has made me think more about how things get to the store and how the cheapest doesn’t always mean the best. I began to see how the way I was spending money centered around a bit of greed on my part – wanting to keep the largest portion for myself to benefit just me. Being exposed to fair trade issues has made me think long and hard about how I spend – and realizing that there’s a lot of power in the disposable dollars. It’s a blessing to be in a position where I have disposable income and I need to be a good steward of that. It’s not like there’s a huge guilt trip each time I think about making every retail decision – it’s just a matter of recognizing that change needs to start somewhere and I only have full control over me – so that’s where I start.
What else are you passionate about?
I love design and the creative process that surrounds it. Fashion design, architecture, photography, dance – all of those creative processes that result in something visual I find utterly fascinating. I also really like to cook, eat, and travel any chance I get.
Where do you want fair trade to go in the future?
I wish that there was no need for a fair trade category. I think in the future, if fair trade is the norm instead of being this special case – that would be a dream come true.
Which product is your favorite?
Hands down – the telephone wire bowls are my favorite. The fact that you can pick any one of those up and give them a whiff and smell the smoky aroma of the African hut of the woman who weaved the item is utterly amazing.
Have you had any experiences sharing Trade as One with friends/family?
Yup. I love telling people about Trade as One! The most recent was over a meal with my friend Connie. She’s very in to all things green/sustainable and she’s been working at a solar company for a while and I mentioned how I was connected with trade as one. We started talking and out of that conversation she let me know that she had some reusable packaging ideas – so I was able to connect her with Nathan/Stu and now they’re off to the races to bat around those ideas. And whenever a conversation veers towards shopping line – I give Trade as One a plug.