Every month we feature a ‘Pick of the month’ from the Gift Shop on the shop page of the website, but we wanted to know more about the suppliers of the beautiful arts and crafts, jewellery and handmade products that we stock in our Shop. So, we decided to introduce a monthly blog feature to get to know them. This month’s pick is ‘Just Trade’, whose jewellery we love! Read on to find out more.

Tell us a little about Just Trade?

Just Trade was founded in July 2006 with the primary aim of providing fairly paid, flexible work and training for women living in some of the poorest shantytowns in Lima, Peru.  

Whilst studying jewellery design at The School of Jewellery in Birmingham and later the Royal College of Art in London, founding Director Laura Cave, visited Peru on numerous occasions to volunteer with a fair trade jewellery project. It was there that her friendships grew with local women, she saw incredible potential in the skills that they already had, materials that were available locally and their desire to learn more. She wanted to collaborate with them make desirable products that are valued not only for their fair trade approach but also for the quality of the design and craftsmanship.

Over the last 9 years we have focussed on improving quality of both the design and manufacture, increasing production and expanding sales channels in order to provide more work for more women. We now work with groups of artisans in Peru, Ecuador and India and sell to over 300 independent boutiques and to a vast array of leading galleries and museums, including the wonderful Lightbox. Laura was particularly excited about this as she grew up in Woking, living on White Rose Lane and attending Barnsbury Primary and Middle Schools!

How do you work with your makers?

Every year we visit the projects in South America and India to work alongside the women and young people.  We always approach all new product development and skills training in a collaborative way, listening and learning as much as teaching and demonstrating. We strongly believe that this collaborative approach leads to better products and encourages a greater sense of worth and self esteem amongst the women.

What inspires the designs behind your jewellery?

Together we take inspiration from all a whole range of sources be it the local culture and environment, museums and galleries that we work or the potential of the materials and techniques themselves.

What are your top picks from your collection for Spring 2015?

We all love the brass ribbon bangle – it’s so easy to wear, such a great colour and looks better the more you wear it.

The pentagon pendant and earrings – great design and beautifully hand made by Heber in Peru, the only man in the project! He is studying to be an occupational therapist and has been able to fund all his studies by making jewellery part time for Just Trade.

We hope you've enjoyed reading about 'Just Trade' - we enjoyed getting to know them more!

Image credits: Working on designs, Brass Ribbon Bangle, Pentagon Earrings © Just Trade