Hello from Hay!
It's a beautiful day today, and we hope the sun is shining wherever you are. It has been a bittersweet week for us - normally, this would be one of the busiest times of year, with Hay Festival in full swing. Instead, they are sharing some events online, and we are waiting and hoping to be back again soon.
Our online store remains open, though I should apologise that a number of lines are very low on stock. I'm sure you can understand that we are not in a position to order new stock while the physical shop remains closed. Fingers crossed, as we start to see restrictions lifted, we'll be able to add more stock online. To help you navigate the shop, we have now updated the site to only show products which are in stock. We hope this makes it easier to navigate.
In the meantime we are working to make our shop in Hay safe to visit, with what will be the new normal for everyone I imagine - screens, hand sanitiser, and directional arrows around the shop. We will get there!
Our key message to you is to stay safe. We wish you, your friends, and your family all the very best in this challenging time. We look forward to welcoming you back to Hay very soon!
Welcome, dear Rabbit Fans, to March 2020. It has been a difficult few weeks, and I know you will already be sick of endless emails offering different companies' takes on the virus, opening, closing, takeaways and online-only sales. It is tough out there. I'm sure you're familiar with the five stages of grief, ranging from denial to eventual acceptance. Where would you put us on the scale?
For me, we have reached the "fixed grin" stage of the Coronavirus. Everyone is doing their best to muck in (albeit safely), community spirit is at an all-time high, and neighbours are watching out for each other. How long it lasts will, you suspect, depend on how long people have cash in their bank accounts.
It would be easy to implore you to think of independent businesses, small retailers like Eighteen Rabbit who face big problems in the weeks ahead. Or to consider hospitality businesses, cafes, bars and restaurants, who right now will be trying to work out how to pay this week's wages. I could even take the moral high ground and ask you to consider our suppliers, artisans and entrepreneurs in the developing world who rely on fair trade retailers in the west to give their amazing products a market.
But I think the truth is that no-one knows where we are going, how this will end, or what situation we'll be in once the dust has settled. I am often characterised as a slightly Pollyanna-ish character, and I have to admit there is a part of me which would quite like to see a world where emissions from industry and aviation have fallen, people feel more in touch with their communites, and ideas such as a universal basic income are being seriously considered rather than dismissed out of hand. Equally, I can see storm clouds ahead over drug patents, nations taking an isolationist approach to protecting their citizens, and a spiraling pit of mental health issues.
Fair trade - the concept that people should be treated fairly - ultimately comes from a place of love. It would be nice to think that this current crisis can inspire us to see the world as a place we need to cherish and nurture, to see people around us as fellow human beings rather than foreigners or aliens, and to see wealth and capital as something to be shared as a common treasury rather than hoarded by latter-day dragons. We'll see which way the dice fall.
Stay safe out there! Huge thanks to Rabbit Fan and Boaty Buddy Danette St Onge for the inspired title of this blog.
It's easy to be down-hearted at the state of the world. No matter what your political views, we live in uncertain times and it can sometimes feel like the evening news is just a round-up of what has gone wrong on any particular day.
Yesterday, the Guardian ran a piece entitles "Is Fair Trade Finished?" and while the findings weren't quite as apocalyptic as the headline might suggest, it's still food for thought (and well worth reading). Too often we think of big corporations as benevolent consumer champions, stocking products based on their ethical credentials, when in fact these organisations are motivated primarily by profit. If we as consumers don't tell them they have got it wrong, they will veer quite quickly to the lowest denominator on price and quality.
Good news is never too far away though. We are big fans of Positive News, the magazine that focusses on the little successes that can often be missed by the 24 hour news cycle. They had celebrity praise from none other than Bill Gates this week, who tweeted his support of the magazine. It's a great read and we have the latest issue available online now!
We love all of our suppliers, but Just Trade have a special place in our hearts thanks to their exquisite "eighteen rabbit" based logic problems, which they include with every delivery they send! (try putting this one into your calculator)
They are constantly delighting us with new lines, and we have some beautiful new earrings and pendants available online now. While most of the Just Trade jewellery we sell is brass, these lines are silver and gold plated - a lovely touch of fair trade luxury :)
They are all made by the "Flowering Desert" project in Tamil Nadu, India. Perfect for fans of fairtrade (and maths!).
We're delighted to have these back in stock! It has been tricky to get hold of these, as sadly a couple of previous orders have been lost in transit. Now, thanks to Dee and her team, we have loads of new designs available again!
We have ten designs in total and all of them are available now on the website. Bottle tops are flattened and then wrapped in traditional Botswanan fabric. They come in smart presentation boxes and are all £12 a pair. We are very pleased to be able to support this fantastic project!