Special Nonexistent Furniture

Fair Traders - The Dharma Door

Karen McCartney talks to The Dharma Door founder Shannon Sheedy about combining Fair Trade principles with great product design. 

Shannon Sheedy (above), founder of homewares company, The Dharma Door, has refined her business to encompass two key drivers (stay with me this isn’t a business report). She is an enthusiastic supporter and advocate of Fair Trade (her company is an endorsed Fair Trader of Australia and she is a member of the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand) but she is also keenly aware that creative, well-designed products that excite the consumer are what builds a flourishing business, Fair Trade or otherwise.

'In 2003 my husband and I were volunteers helping Tibetan refugees in India. They were making products - book bags, which we initially sold at markets in Brisbane. We then infused our own design aesthetic into the products and took them to a wider retail market. We quickly realised that great product design mixed with practical functionality makes for a sustainable business’, says Shannon.

'Fair Trade ensures, amongst other things that workers are paid fairly, have safe working environments, raw materials are locally sourced wherever possible and there is no child labour. It really underpins everything we do’, says Shannon. But success brings responsibility and the brand is working with hundreds of women in Bangladesh, who, as a result receive medical benefits, saving schemes, financial and literacy classes and most importantly a sustainable livelihood. Hence Shannon is aware that the consumer demand for her product is fundamental to keeping these artisans in work. And she is doing a great job. The loomed baskets, hessian sacks and jute baskets, with decorative touches and clever colour combinations are amazingly useful as storage and have a host of applications. They also manage to suit a number of house styles – modern country, coastal, eclectic, sleek, bohemian – depending on colour and texture there is something for every scheme.

Being part of the Fair Traders of Australia programme is rigorous and requires transparency and commitment to global Fair Trade standards to meet the necessary criteria for endorsement. It is a credit to The Dharma Door that it does  - all the while creating products we all want in our homes. After all, that is surely what feel good looks like.

Top image by Denise Braki, styled by Emmaly Stewart. Other images courtesy of The Dharma Door.

Support Fair Trade by shopping for The Dharma Door baskets now.

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