What kind of name is Eighteen Rabbit?
It's a question we are asked a lot. The answer also explains a lot about us and why we do what we do.
So - to your left is Eighteen Rabbit. Quite an impressive figure. He ruled the Mayan city of Copan from 695 to 738. That's a long time ago. We visited Copan in 2005 and were naturally intrigued by this strange sounding leader.
Louise on the Tikal ferry
It turned out that Eighteen Rabbit had been a great patron of the arts in Mayan society and had been responsible for something of a renaissance in all things cultural. The name stuck in our heads.
Now, Copan is just on the border between Guatemala and Honduras. After we'd visited Copan we spent two months living in Trujillo on the northern Caribbean coast of Honduras. This might sound pretty exotic - it's close to where The Mosquito Coast was based and sure enough there were white sand beaches and clear blue seas. But we also found something else in Honduras. Poverty.
Honduras had once been a bountiful place where the locals tended crops and farmed the land. Now, we drove through vast plantations of pineapples and bananas. What had once been mixed agricultural land was now monolithic fields of single crops, destined for long trains of container trucks taking them to the ports. If the local people didn't want to work for the banana company there were other options - they could work in the sweat shops making clothes for Wal-Mart and other big chains. Everyone likes cheap clothes, right?
When we got back from Mexico and Central America we did some serious thinking. We knew we wanted to do something that would make a difference to the people we had met. We tried a lot of different routes, and spent a few years organising events such as the Observer Ethical Awards which highlighted the ways consumers could make a difference in the UK. But we were worried we weren't making enough progress. That's when the idea of Eighteen Rabbit began to take shape.
Market day in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico.
Eighteen Rabbit is an independent retailer selling fairly traded arts, crafts and gifts with a focus on style and design. We believe that beautiful things can help make the world a better place.
If you are visiting the world famous book town of Hay on Wye you can check out our shop in the heart of the town at 2 Lion Street.
Louise and Andrew, co-founders of Eighteen Rabbit; Mexico, 2015.
Our vision is simple:
Stylish designs made by inspiring people. Modern shopping with an eye on the world.
We are guided by our principles and dedication to making the world a better place by allowing producers to bring their products to market in a fair and just way, while caring for the environment we all share.
We know that we can't change the world overnight, and that we're only playing a small part in the way our global economy develops. We understand that it's easy to be cynical, or to question the value of using trade as a tool for social change. Nevertheless we're committed to creating relationships with our producers to give them a platform to show the world what they are capable of. The stories they tell, and the incredible items they produce, are living proof of the value of making trade fair.
We believe that a transparent approach is the best way to build trust in the items we sell and the producers we support. If you have any questions about the manufacture of our products or the communities who are making them, please get in touch.