Molly Acord of "Fair + Simple"
In accordance with rules or standards; free from injustice. Synonyms: legitimate, impartial, unprejudiced.
Understood or done without difficulty; not elaborate or artificial. Synonyms: clear, understandable, easy.
This was Molly Acord’s vision when she cultivated the seed of inspiration given to her two years ago by the fair trade movement. The seed would take root in a loving desire to see marginalized people valued. It would be watered and fed by mindful consumers and socially responsible organizations. Today, it boasts gorgeous blooms of fair living wages, safe work environments, and rewarding products. This is the story of Fair+Simple.
Molly earned her degree in Elementary Education but, until a couple years ago, had been running her own business of handmade products. She had been wanting to get involved with and invest in fair trade without any clue how, when all of a sudden, the concept for Fair+Simple, a new approach to gift-giving, just dropped from the sky.
Immediately, Molly tailored her newfound idea through three days of ceaseless brainstorming with no food or sleep. Soon--a mere month and a half after its initial conception--Fair+Simple debuted with only a few company partnerships, and gradually, it has grown to include products from over 20 brands that are using business as a tool for social change.
So how does it work? Molly wanted to simplify gift-giving and make it impactful for more than just the receiver. First, the gift giver purchases a Fair+Simple card, and then the recipient redeems it for any item in the ethically sourced and cause-based collection. What this means is that all gifts come from vetted, high-quality companies that are able to tell you how their raw materials are sourced, that make it a priority to pay their workers a fair and livable wage, and that support a social cause through their business.
Stories of labor exploitation are horrific and are often distressingly intertwined with kidnapping and sex trafficking. However, with Fair+Simple, the stories behind each product are ones of encouragement and hope. There are artisans in India who are survivors of trafficking and now employed. There are children who benefit from profits that have become educational scholarships. And there are friends who now have beautifully crafted gifts and more knowledge about fair trade.
Fair trade has certainly been catching momentum. Molly encourages combining this knowledge with consumer purchasing power to increase social justice by taking small advances toward big change. “I was very concerned that my buying purchases could have a negative impact on someone I don’t even know….[Learning about unethical trade is] tumultuous for some people,...it’s overwhelming, but I think [change is] about taking one step at a time and building on that.”
Molly will be taking the step of participating in Dressember this year! However, she has gone above and beyond by designing a DIY dress pattern as a form of raising money. She wanted to use her interests for good and was inspired to draft a universally flattering pattern that can also be worn as a shirt and styled many ways.
In her quaint town of Talent, Oregon, a creative organization invited Molly to teach a sewing workshop on November 16th. After hearing about her dress pattern and Dressember, they jumped at the chance to help along the way by donating half the proceeds from the class! Women and men who are unable to make their way to Southern Oregon but want to give Molly’s dress a try can find the pattern here with a suggested $5 donation to her Dressember campaign.
Molly recommends Done Good to discover responsible brands and Better World Shopper to check out basic household necessities. With her background in elementary education and as a mother herself, she would also love to see more parents teaching their children about human trafficking, fair trade, and the effects of purchases.
“The future of conscious shopping is in the next generation,” she says, and it’s true that it’s never too early to let children participate in social responsibility.
There are great benefits to coming alongside people like Molly to research favorite brands--whether it be for clothing, jewelry, home products, etc.--and learning how they measure up ethically. There are more options now for socially conscious consumers who want to cast votes with their dollars for responsibly made products. Nowadays, it’s more difficult for companies to get away with profiting from unethical supply chains or exploitative labor practices. Consumers can write or call popular companies to ask hard questions to show that they care about the difference it makes.
The fight for ethical shopping is year round, but in this coming season of holidays and celebratory gift-giving, how will you advance fair trade? Try having a mother-daughter bonding date where you sew your own dresses for Dressember. Host an accessories swap, or secondhand shop with a group of friends. Consider replacing your Starbucks gift cards with Fair+Simple cards. Share what you’ve learned around the dinner table, and promote Molly’s--and Dressember’s--vision for simple giving and restored dignity.
About the Author
Chynna Terrell is an ENFJ studying English Literature at the University of Oklahoma (boomer!). Aside from trying not to think about being a senior, she is president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and is excited to participate again and write for Dressember. And, why yes, she would love to have you over for a hot cup of tea, a puzzle, and good conversation.