The Fair Trader Story
Pictured: John and Bronwyn Newnham
John and Bronwyn Newnham are the founders of The Fair Trader. Both of them were born in economically poor countries. John was born in rural India, and Bronwyn was born in South Korea just after the devastating Korean Civil War.
Bron says, "For both of us, this has meant we have no illusions about the absolute horror of extreme poverty. We know it, we have seen it. It is devastating."
In 2015, John decided to leave his work as a Paramedic. He wanted to do something meaningful after leaving a long career as an Ambulance Officer, and decided to try to build a small business in Fair Trade. Bronwyn, a former nurse, was also interested in this new challenge, and so the adventure of The Fair Trader began.
"We knew nothing of business and nothing about spreadsheets, not about keeping inventory or quickbooks or anything at all. Importing products was a complete mystery. We were totally unprepared. We have just learned by doing, and especially from our mistakes. We have a very supportive community of customers, and these lovely, committed, ethical-minded people have supported us so well, and they gave us room to learn as we journeyed into this adventure. Their encouragement has kept us going through the most difficult, horrible days of feeling that we were going to fail.
"Now The Fair Trader is more settled, and we have learned so much. We are in a good space, and although we are still learning every single day, and still making lots of mistakes, we have come far enough to feel less anxious about the daily workings of The Fair Trader," says Bron.
Originally opening its doors in Ringwood East, The Fair Trader moved to Eastfield Shops, Croydon South in October 2019. The store is managed by Bron and John who work with a team of amazing and dedicated individuals, all bringing their special skills to the wonder and adventure and challenge of the work of Fair Trade.
The Fair Trader's goal is to give the Melbourne, Australian and New Zealand community an opportunity to purchase beautiful artisan products which give the gift of regular and sustained employment for the producers, a wage which enables them to survive and thrive, and is an investment into the producer's local community. Each purchase from The Fair Trader helps achieve this goal.
"Poverty is a such challenging problem, one that often feels unsolvable, and where we often feel completely powerless, but changing the world through ethical purchasing is such a simple and positive action. We really do have the power to change someone’s world," Bron says.
"The amazing and resilient people who make our products teach us every day that no matter how hard your circumstances, great things are possible."