The Koolskools Story

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Who We Are

Andy AshcroftAndy Ashcroft,  Koolskools Founding Partner

andy@koolskools.co.uk

Andy, an ex-British diplomat, was Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Dominican Republic (DR) and Haiti from 2002 to 2006, shortly after which he left the Foreign Office to pursue a second career in business.

pasted image 0 (2)Mike Trodd, Koolskools Founding Partner

mike@koolskools.co.uk

Mike has been involved with Hampshire community cricket, rugby and hockey for many years, and has been able to develop his community involvement since taking on the sports shop Holt and Haskell in 2006. Holt and Haskell have an active and on-going programme of support and sponsorship of local schools, colleges, and sports clubs.

The Koolskools Mission Statement

Koolskools mission is to trade fairly at both ends of the supply chain so that:

  • All our clothes contain Fairtrade certified cotton meaning that the cotton farmers are receiving a fair price for their crop and a little extra for them to invest in improving their communities;
  • All of our factory workers enjoy decent rates of pay and working conditions;
  • All the UK schools, parents, students and corporate entities that buy Koolskools labelled Fairtrade certified cotton garments are guaranteed a high quality garment.

The Koolskools Story So Far...

The Koolskools “Ethical Business Partnership” Vision

When Andy and Mike embarked on the Koolskools journey, their vision was to establish a unique ethical manufacturing and supply chain, using exclusively Fairtrade cotton, that would benefit everyone buying into it – producers, manufacturers and customers alike.

Fairness, quality and affordability soon became the Koolskools mantra: from small-scale farmers producing the Fairtrade cotton in developing countries in South Asia and Africa; through the mill and factory employees in those regions turning the Fairtrade cotton into finished garments; all the way to the schools/parents and pupils respectively buying and wearing the ethical clothing.

Our Location

Mauritius - where our story began
Mauritius – where our story began

Koolskools started working with the Mauritius factories – spinners, knitters, dyers, embroiderers and manufacturers – in 2010 and the business relationship has gone from strength to strength since then.

Our Fairtrade cotton comes from India, where 280,000 (non-Fairtrade) vulnerable cotton farmers have committed suicide in the past 20 years out of the desperation caused by the drastically fluctuating global cotton price. We have also started working with ethical factories in India.

A real team approach has been cultivated between those on the production side and Koolskools and its school and corporate clients in the UK. For example, the Mauritius factory management are very happy to engage with the students in UK schools so that they can help them learn all about Fairtrade certified cotton, and some of our factory workers have also been to the UK to share their inspiring life stories with UK school students.

This team spirit and mutually beneficial co-operation scaled new heights during Fairtrade Fortnight 2015 and 2016 when a seamstress from the Koolskools Mauritius factory, Pamela Intelligent, inspired and moved people in equal measure during a two-week tour of Scotland in 2015 and a wider Scotland and UK tour in 2016. Pamela told her very personal story of a life of work in exploitative factory conditions in Mauritius before her life changed for the better in 2013 when she found our Fairtrade-licensed factory.

Koolskools will always be grateful to the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, the City of Edinburgh and the City of Edinburgh Fairtrade Group for taking the initiative to sponsor Pamela’s 2015 visit to Scotland. It was a visit that inspired us to keep working on increasing demand for Fairtrade cotton around the world; and a visit that truly inspired the next generation of Fairtrade and ethical consumers in Scotland.

Where Exactly in the world is Mauritius?

Pamela with Primary School children at the SFTF 2015 Glasgow Schools Conference
Pamela with Primary School children at the SFTF 2015 Glasgow Schools Conference

Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900 kilometres (560 mi) east of Madagascar. In addition to the island of Mauritius, the Republic includes the islands of Cargados Carajos, Rodrigues and the Agalega Islands. Mauritius Island is part of the Mascarene Islands, with the French island of Reunion 200 km (120 mi) to the southwest and the island of Rodrigues 570 km (350 mi) to the northeast.

Mauritius Facts

  • volcanic island of lagoons and palm-fringed beaches
  • population of 1.3 million
  • turned into a British colony in 1810, became an independent republic in 1992
  • very popular tourist destination
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