Today, Koolskools first ever crowd funding campaign launches to the general public. You can check it out here
In addition to inviting you to support our crowd funding if you can, over the next few weeks we are also inviting you to come with us on a blogging journey to learn about the history of our Fairtrade business, from its very humble origins over 10 years or so ago.
Our forthcoming blogs will hopefully interest our long-standing friends and supporters, as well as people out there who may have just discovered Koolskools through the crowd funding campaign and want to know a bit more about us and how we operate.
Today we think it is fitting to trace back the history of our relationship with our fastest growing current market – Scotland.
The Early Days
Koolskools joint founder Andy and his wife, Anna, went up to Scotland for a friend’s wedding in the
summer of 2011. In parallel they had made contact with Angela Oakley, the volunteer Fairtrade cotton adviser to the Scottish Fair Trade Forum (SFTF).
The link with Angela and the SFTF, under their dynamic Director, Martin Rhodes, has proven to be very fruitful in subsequent years – most importantly to the benefit of Fairtrade cotton farmers and their communities.
During that first visit, Angela introduced Andy and Anna to Fiona Leishman, the then Headteacher at Craighead Primary school. After hearing about the ethical aims of the Koolskools business, without hesitation Fiona said: “we are going to do this”!
Koolskools promptly did the sampling of the Craighead school logo, and the first order for Koolskools Fairtrade uniform arrived early in 2012. Our Fairtrading relationship with Scottish schools was born!
Reaching All Parts of Scotland!
Thankfully, an increasing number of Scottish schools’ Headteachers and their staff are, like Fiona Leishman, “can do” on Fairtrade uniform.
It is incredible to think how much of Scotland we have covered, and how many schools in different areas that we now supply with Fairtrade uniform, since those early days. To name but a few: Dalbeattie High School and Primary in Dumfries and Galloway; Ullapool High and Primary schools and Ardnamurchan High in the Highlands; St Joseph’s RC Primary and fellow Primaries and High Schools in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire; Flora Stevenson, Parsons and Juniper Green and many more Primaries in Edinburgh: Hillpark Secondary, Corpus Christi and Thomas Muir Primaries in Glasgow and Bishopbriggs; and even Kirkwall Grammar on Orkney 😊.
We could not have made such fantastic progress in Scotland without the tremendous on-going support and co-operation of the SFTF. We have combined with them on
several occasions in bringing the ethics and values underpinning our Fairtrade business into the classroom. For example, in 2015 the SFTF, in conjunction with the Edinburgh Fair Trade City Group, funded the visit of Pamela Intelligent from our Mauritius factory. Pamela captivated audiences all over Scotland with her inspiring life-story, much of it spent being exploited in “sweatshops” before discovering our Fairtrade-licensed factory.
North Link Ferries Walking the Fairtrade Corporate Talk
Not only do we have more Fairtrade uniform client schools in Scotland than in any other part of the UK, but we also have our largest corporate client – the strongly Fairtrade/ethically orientated North Link Ferries. North Link started sourcing our Fairtrade polos towards the end of 2015 and have ordered literally thousands of them since.
It is fair to say that North Link were ahead of their time when engaging with ethical workwear. We notice now that many businesses are cottoning on to the fact that Fairtrade/ethical workwear is not always more expensive. It also dawns on an increasing number of corporates that it gives them and their workforces peace of mind when they realise that they will not be exploiting cotton farmers when buying our polos, and that by wearing recycled polyester they can help protect our planet too.
Koolskools, Scotland and the Future
Our contacts with existing and new potential client schools in Scotland continue apace. Now that we have been contracted by the National Union of Students to supply NUS University Shops, we can foresee making even more visits to Scotland to visit schools AND Universities.
From 2019 and into the future we shall visit this beautiful, Fairtrade-friendly country equipped with
Fairtrade cotton garments that carry even stronger ethical underpinning. ALL our cotton/poly mix garments going forwards will not only carry that all-important Fairtrade Cotton Mark, as ever, but also the internationally-recognised “GRS”-RECYCLED polyester certification too – the strongest possible global recycling clothing standard.
Come on all you Scottish schools, corporates and Universities, let’s make even more headway please on Fairtrade/ECO uniform in 2019 as we approach a new decade 😊!!