Wednesday, April 28th 2010 | Short URL
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work.
Vivien Johnston, Director and founder of Fifi Bijoux. I set up the brit brand in 2006 to offer consumers jewellery made exclusively from ethically sourced materials; fairly traded gold, platinum and silver mined without mercury or cyanide. The jewellery is crafted in London by master goldsmiths. Our diamonds and gems also come from ethical sources, small scale co-operative mines where possible and carefully selected mining and cutting projects which practice exemplary social and environmental responsibility standards.
How is your business different from that of others in your industry? How do you stand out from the crowd?
Fifi Bijoux is a design label, we show at London and Paris Fashion Weeks and have been readily accepted by the fashion press. It’s a luxury product; with the unique new luxury of known provenance of all our materials. Our customers are a mixture of hip ethical shoppers and fashion-forward trend setters.
How would you say your work is ethically and / or environmentally responsible?
We take great care to partner with mining programmes which demonstrate a strict code of conduct for social standards, including no child labour, fair advancement for all workers, living wages to employees or co-operative projects which invest back into the communities where possible. Environmental standards are tough and they have to be. Standard mining practices rank 2nd in the world for environmental damage and the consequences to water sources, fish, flora and fauna, as well as local communities who depend on these for their food sources can be devastating.
Fifi Bijoux was founded on the principle of maximising the positive impacts for the local communities.
What motivates you to do business this way?
I experienced the lack of transparency in the typical jewellery business model and saw that the value chain was heavily weighted after export of rough or unrefined goods, meaning a raw deal for the producers. The extreme problems in the jewellery industry have been well documented; a lack of traceability in the supply chain ultimately allows for conflict situations and for corruption to flourish. The film Blood Diamond shows the civil war which was funded by diamonds in the 1990’s; but similar atrocities occurred as recently as Nov 2009 in Zimbabwe when Mugabe’s troops murdered miners in the diamond fields. The DRC and Cote d’Ivoire remain volatile.
At worst, diamonds and precious minerals remain an easily smuggled hard currency. At best, mining companies who do actually fulfil high standards of CSR remain invisible and often lumped together with the worst offenders because of the lack of traceability. I think consumers should be able to make informed choices, especially on something as precious and sentimental as an engagement ring for example.
How do you communicate your positive work with clients and potential clients and how do they respond?
The press have been kind and have shown great interest in Fifi Bijoux and my business model. I meet with private clients and work on design briefs with them, I also design ready to wear collections which are sold on-line and through our stockists. Currently, we have around 30 stockists across the UK and also export to France, New York and Australia.
Do you see your work as part of a movement of ethical business?
Yes, most certainly. I see forward thinking business and sustainability being critical to the global economy.
Above image: Little Acorns – 10% profits to Child Sponsorship Project, Entebbe, Uganda
Share your top 3 tips on how other businesses can work more responsibly.
Know your supply chain. Use your purchasing power to make ethical choices. Accept that ‘being ethical’ is about making a journey; you have to start somewhere and don’t be discouraged if certain things elude you to begin with. Companies like Make Hay didn’t exist 10 years ago; but now boast a very lively client list and provide a green choice for business.
How do you see the future of your business and what are you most excited about?
We launched our own on-line boutique last year and it’s going from strength to strength. Export is also growing, so we hope that Fifi Bijoux will develop its international reputation in the next few years as well as the UK has received our designs.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your work?
We have just launched a silver collection and a collection of 18ct gold engagement and wedding rings.
Visit the Fifi Bijoux website at www.fifibijoux.com
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