Who We Are
Andy Ashcroft, Koolskools Founding Partner
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.
Andy has devoted his second career to the building of an ethical, sustainable business that recognises and rewards – through Fairtrade – our cotton farmers and factory workers that make our Koolskools clothing.
The Koolskools Mission Statement
Koolskools mission is to trade fairly at both ends of the supply chain so that:
- All our Koolskools-manufactured 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 the polyester in our core range Fairtrade garments is to be recycled from human resource waste, so our garments help to protect the planet too;
- 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.
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.