I have just got back from presenting at the Ethical Fashion Forum's first Global Sourcing Marketplace tradeshow. I have done tradeshows twice before and was a little anxious of what to bring as not everything is in place so i decided to promote my ethical bridal business Latibeau Ltd...its a social enterprise company producing in Ghana, West Africa.
I made some very interesting new contacts and thave to get networking even more as I plan to connect more with Cool Ideas and to visit Phenix when i travel to Uganda next year. Aura Textiles was also good and so I now have a supplier I have been seeking for gift products for Latibeau.
Talking with Mantisworld as always, was interesting and an eye opener into the reasons why trading with Africa is a problem and that only 3% of cotton boll farmed in Africa is actually produced in Africa and that, shockingly, the other 97% is sent to India to be spun into the cotton fabric. (I am still confirming percentages for my own research but these figures are not far off). Overall I am glad to have spoken with them and have been told that there will be a possibility to visit their factory in Tanzania too when I do my East Africa trip (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania)
One contact that I did make and may seek to intern with along with seeking that from Made-By, was BioRe / Remei in Switzerland. They have a project with Tanzania but inform me that the cotton farm is far from the airport and that i will need a driver to get there and its very expensive and risky. So more research needed. I met another lady - Joy - a jewellery designer from Uganda who has many contacts there and can help me to get around and to meet the right people.
Annegret from Choolips right) was there who gave an encouraging word especially about working with Ghana and she did a seminar on how she started and her German heritage and interest in the slave trade. She mentioned her awards, the hard times, the challenges and her findings. It was interesting to hear how she actually started business in 2003 I believe and did LFW but took a year out as she didnt like some things she saw in fashion and reevaluated her business values. She also mentioned about working in a way that focused on bringing old textile crafts in a way that was right to be sold on the high street and it made me think re Akabi and the way I am doing business. But it seems to be alot of trial and error and lots of learnings too. I was inspired even more by the event for my AW10 collection.. so when I go to Ghana at christmas I will be meeting with artisans to present my ideas for that and get things rolling ahead of time...
Most importantly I sold half of the fabrics I was aiming to and so recouped some money to pay for my samples.
Overall much kudos to Tamsin, Dani, Joey, Josie and the team at EFF for the great start to this annual tradeshow. It left a positive vibe and was great to see people connecting, working together and not apart from each other.
Looking forward to next years event.