Rosette Fair Trade one year anniversary (birthday) celebration during covid 19 at the Rosette Network
Rosette

Rosette celebrates its first birthday!

This week, Rosette celebrated its first birthday—that is, the one-year anniversary of its launch! This is a time of rejoicing and reflecting all at once, and I wanted to share some updates with Rosette’s amazing followers (like you!).

2019 was a big year for Rosette Fair Trade, and 2020 has proven to be even more amazing! And yet, I write this post under quarantine with the realization that these are stressful times for many folks. There’s a lot to think about, for sure.

Keeping spirits up during the COVID-19 quarantine

Much about Rosette’s day-to-day operations hasn’t changed, as it primarily does operate remotely to begin with. However, I’ve have definitely missed meeting up with those of you who are in Ottawa to do hand-offs of fair trade goodies! While I’m still offering a (contactless) pickup option, folks are understandably more nervous than usual to take me up on the offer. I look forward to when I can enjoy the simple pleasure of shaking the hands of the local folks who help make Rosette successful!

As for celebrating Rosette’s anniversary, I’m grateful that we live in the digital age and keeping connected is so easy! I’m really excited to announce that I’ll be posting weekly recipes on the blog to help you with your quarantine boredom cooking—in case you’re anything like me and cooking and baking up a storm right now!

Expanding fair trade product availability in Canada

It’s definitely not just cause for nostalgia and wishes for better times! The past few months have seen Rosette expand a ton, and I’m delighted to be the only distributor of Oxfam Fair Trade products in Canada, as of September! They’ve been a total treat to work with, and Rosette now carries over 30 of their products. Most of these products (tahini, gummy bears and rice cakes, to name a few!) are brand new to the Canadian market and I love making new and exciting things available through this European partner. They’ve proven to be some of Rosette’s most popular products, but I’m still happy to report that support for Canadian businesses remains strong!

Enjoying fair trade product design

On a more self-congratulatory note, I’m also really excited that I actually got to design and sell an exclusive t-shirt within my first few months of operation! Rosette’s pineapple t-shirts were a big hit with fair traders, and while there are still a couple of them left (for now!), I think it’s safe to say I’ll need to get more t-shirts in for this coming year! The new design will be a little more minimalist (yes, I promise I can restrain myself, I just usually don’t like to!) so that more folks can enjoy wearing them in more situations.

Increasing fair trade consumption through wholesale

I’ve also had a lot of fun since the new year expanding into new avenues, particularly with respect to wholesale. You don’t hear as much about what I’m doing on that front, but I’ve been busy behind the scenes! One of the most exciting things for me this year is that I became a supplier for remaining Ten Thousand Villages locations (currently the Edmonton and Port Colborne locations), which is just plain surreal! This little bean definitely fangirled hard when they originally got in touch, because I’ve been such a fan of Ten Thousand Villages for years now. To think that they’re now coming to me to support their awesome work is humbling and exciting all at once! While I’m really sad that my local store is among the Ten Thousand Villages locations closing, I’m honoured that I’ll continue to be able to support the amazing work that remaining Ten Thousand Villages locations are doing in other Canadian communities.

Increasing fair trade consumption in general

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not about to claim that I’ve saved the fair trade movement single-handedly or anything! But what I do want to share is that since opening Rosette Fair Trade last year, I have seen all sorts of people come out of the woodworks to support this tiny business of mine, and that ultimately supports fair trade in new and exciting ways! I’ve had so many wonderful conversations with loved ones, acquaintances, business contacts, festival attendees and more, hailing from every corner of Canada (and the globe, to be honest). Each of these conversations has led to more folks who understand at least a little something about the fair trade movement and why it’s important. And from there, numerous folks have begun swapping even a product or two in their usual grocery list to a fair trade alternative. And even if it’s just his morning brew, I’m happy that guy I met once at a conference 7 years ago in Calgary is now purchasing fair trade products and supporting more sustainable agriculture and trade! For me, that’s a win. And when you add up the numerous times that’s happened, it starts to actually create a ripple, and that’s really rewarding.

Learning what works—and what doesn’t

I was super excited when I launched subscription boxes in November, but it turns out Rosette customers weren’t quite very excited about them at all. And that’s OK! It’s all a learning curve. It’s important in business to understand what’s working and what’s not, and perhaps even more importantly, to recognize when the pull the plug. The subscription boxes had an OK run, but they’re one of the few things that has hindered Rosette more than helped, and so I’m discontinuing them. Will they be back in the future? Possibly if there’s enough demand and I’m able to rework them in a way that makes sense. But if they never come back, I’m OK with that too, because keeping my focus on fewer things means I can serve you even better in those areas!

The next year for Rosette

So of course, after thinking about all of the things I had the privilege of doing this year with Rosette, I got to thinking about how amazing the next year can be, too! In the next year, you can expect more of the same, if that’s your thing, and I’m also really excited about some of the new products that I’ll be bringing in, starting in the summer. With COVID-19 quarantine putting a small wrench in the gears, I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew, so I’m pushing back new product releases a little (I was originally planning to bring them in for Fairtrade Month in May). That being said, I really hope you’ll love them as much as I do and feel like they’re well worth the wait!

I also just launched Rosette Fair Trade gift cards! I’m super stoked at how supportive folks have been through this uncertain time, and it helps a ton when you purchase gift cards now for use later, to help us keep afloat while regular sales decline during quarantine. They’re zero-waste (virtual), never expire and make perfect gifts! Your support means so much, so thank you.

I’m also so excited to launch the fair trade fundraising program! Earlybird registrations are already open! If you’re a school, club, community group or other not-for-profit entity, you can register now through the online portal to order fair trade products for your fundraising initiatives. While some items are on backorder due to the challenge of international freight right now, we have tons of amazing products from Canadian suppliers and even some European products in stock. 🙂

And most importantly, thank you. Thank you for your support that got us through our first year(!!!) in business. Thank you for telling your friends about this new business that your buddy started, or sharing your positive experience in a Google review. Thank you for placing your first or tenth order. Thank you for the follows, retweets, shares and encouraging comments. Thank you for the messages you send late at night to tell us how much you’re loving your fair trade goodies, and the panicked voicemails when you realize you missed the Christmas chocolate shipping deadline! Thank you for telling me when I mess up and letting me fix it.

And last but not least, thank you for choosing fair trade because you value people and the planet.

Here’s to many more amazing years!

In solidarity,
Lia

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