The Little Sparrow’s beautiful ethically handmade, one-off items for children are the embodiment of Megan Johnston and Allison Holland’s vision. Believing beautiful products should also be beautifully made; The Little Sparrow empowers communities previously exploited by providing a fair trading environment.
I first came across The Little Sparrow at the Manly Fairtrade Market. The warm colours and higgledy piggledy shapes of the children’s toys just made me want to pick them up and cuddle them. I particularly love their hand knitted Spaceship Toys.
The Little Sparrow immediately ticked the first box for me; provide a good product - things that I want to buy.
Research began by visiting producer groups in Bangladesh that were tackling poverty and exploitation, such as Fairtrade Labelling. These groups were empowering marginalised men and women through providing fair wages, health care, finance and education.
“We travelled and met with each supplier personally, this really helped to establish a good understanding of each others needs and build a great working relationship,” says Allison. “We then work with the skills of each of our suppliers to ensure that the designs will be made to meet quality standards and use existing skills held by the workers.”
|Behind the Scenes with The Little Sparrow|
To understand how this works, let’s look at the embroidered wraps. They are made in Rural Bangladesh. Workers spin the yarn then weave the fabric on a handloom as they dye and embroider the design. The yarning and weaving alone takes two women two days. The final product is then cut and sewn, with the whole process being completed at the one supplier. The money made from the sales of these products support a childcare and a primary school in the community.
|Embroidered Baby Wrap|
“When we placed a recent order for our wraps,” says Allison, “we were told; 'Thank you, the embroidery department had no work for this month'. We had just employed and entire department for a month!”
How can one little business tackle the big issues?
One embroidery department at a time.